The 9,900-acre Bosque Estatal de Guánica, a United Nations Biosphere Reserve, is a great place for hiking expeditions. It's an outstanding example of a tropical dry coastal forest, with some 700 species of plants, ranging from the prickly-pear cactus to the gumbo limbo tree. It's also one of the best places on the island for bird-watching, since you can spot more than 100 species, including the pearly-eyed thrasher, the lizard cuckoo, and the nightjar.
One of the
most popular hikes is the Ballena Trail, which begins at the ranger station on Route 334. This easy 1¼-mile (2-km) walk follows a partially paved road and takes you past a mahogany plantation to a dry plain covered with stunted cactus. A sign reading "Guayacán centenario" leads you to an extraordinary guayacán tree with a trunk that measures six-feet across. The moderately difficult Fuerte Trail takes you on a 3½-mile (5½-km) hike to an old fort built by the Spanish Armada. It was destroyed during the Spanish-American War in 1898, but you can still see the ruins of the old observatory tower.
In addition to going in the main entrance on Route 334, you can enter on Route 333, which skirts the forest's southwestern quadrant. You can also try the less explored western section, off Route 325.
Rte. 334, Guánica, 00653, Puerto Rico
Feb 2, 2006
After a visit to the busy city of Ponce take a short trip to the dessert.