Reward yourself with a swim in the pool of this pretty waterfall after hiking along a river through unblemished rainforest.
La Mina Falls is one of several picturesque waterfalls within the stunning landscapes of El Yunque National Forest. Enjoy a hike to the falls. Once there, plunge into the chilly waters of its natural pool. Spot some of over 200 species of trees native to the rainforest in addition to endemic birds, reptiles and mammals.
Two scenic trails lead to the waterfall. La Mina Trail is a 0.7-mile-long (1.1-kilometer) route that starts at the Palo Colorado Ranger Center. The trail features sections of steep steps and a meandering narrow path, skirting La Mina River. Use the picnic facilities at the start of the trail to relax and have lunch before or after visiting the waterfall.
The less challenging Big Tree Trail begins about 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) from the information center. Interpretive signs in both English and Spanish provide information about El Yunque National Forest. The scenery is magnificent, regardless of which trail you choose. See centuries-old tabonuco trees, magnolia splendens and swaths of emerald-colored vines. Listen for the unique call of the coqui frog and spot native Puerto Rican birds such as rare green parrots, the broad-winged hawk and sharp-shinned hawk.
The sound of the rushing water of the 35-foot-tall (11-meter) waterfall signals the end of the trails. Appreciate the views from the staircases and a bridge, which crosses a stream created by the falls’ outflow. Get close to the cascading water by climbing down the steps and sitting on the boulders. It is safe to swim in the pool but be cautious of slippery rocks and prepare for cold water.
The waterfall is about a 40-minute drive from downtown Río Grande or from the beach town of Luquillo. Use the free parking available at the Palo Colorado Information Center and the head of Big Tree Trail.
Visit La Mina Falls any day. Admission to it and the trails is free. Allow about 45 minutes, one way, for each trail. Arrive early in the morning to avoid the crowds.