Pristine beaches, lush forests, and diverse wildlife are just some of the vistas to be enjoyed on the beautiful archipelago of Puerto Rico. The scenic terrain is prized by residents and visitors alike, inspiring physically and mentally fulfilling journeys into the great outdoors.

This November 17th is Take a Hike Day, an awareness event devoted to the benefits of hiking. Beyond the clear advantages of healthy physical activity and time spent in nature, taking hikes offers opportunities for emotional, cognitive, and social growth for both children and adults. Hiking is associated with a reduction in brain function related to depression 1, can positively influence how often and for how long you socialize with friends 2, and may aid in improving focus while working or studying.

3. Looking for gorgeous views and friendly trails in Puerto Rico? A visit to El Yunque National Forest offers well-maintained and charming trails that venture through the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo mountains. There, visitors can see unique flora and fauna, view ancient petroglyphs created by indigenous people, and swim in pools beneath cascading natural waterfalls.

The biodiverse forest, which is considered one of Puerto Rico’s national treasures, has trails for hikers of all ability levels. A novice might wish to start out on the La Mina trail, a short hike which spans only a mile and a half. If you’re up to a more significant challenge, the 2.5 mile El Angelito trail includes a journey across a lagoon on a rope swing — a daring feat to be sure.

If you choose to celebrate Take a Hike Day at El Yunque, here are a few things to remember:

  • The park exists in a high rainfall area, so you may wish to bring a poncho to protect your clothes; there’s also plenty of swimming opportunities, so dress accordingly
  • High rainfall means slippery rocks, so make sure your footwear is non-slip and waterproof
  • El Yunque is one of Puerto Rico’s most popular outdoor destinations, so it’s best to arrive around 7:30 when the park opens to avoid large crowds

As always, take appropriate safety precautions — this includes safe hiking gear, first aid supplies on hand, and sun protection for everyone. Happy hiking!