Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take a shower under a waterfall? Puerto Rico’s El Yunque Rainforest has one of the most beautiful waterfalls called La Mina Falls where cool water flows freely over large rocks and into a natural swimming pool. You need to do some hiking to get there, though, and either go on the La Mina Trail or the Big Tree Trail.
Start hiking early, unless you want to elbow your way into the falls because a horde of excited swimmers are already there. The La Mina trail is not all that steep and there are several steps that help hikers adjust to the changes in elevation as you go deeper into the forest. One very useful tip to remember: hearing the sound of water rushing means you are on the trail’s steepest section.
Head on to a bridge joining the La Mina Trail with the Big Tree Trail and go down carefully onto the large rocks that lead to a pool at the waterfall’s bottom. The rocks are extremely slippery so be cautious about wading your way carelessly. Watch out for the drop-offs as you are making your way towards the water because these have the tendency to be large.
Leaving La Mina Falls gives you two choices: you can continue by using the bridge again and taking the Big Tree Trail or retracing back your steps the same way you got to the waterfall. The latter is the easier alternative since you are going back to where your car or some other transport is waiting. If you choose the former option, you will need someone to hike up back to the La Mina Trail head for the vehicle.
The La Mina Trail measures approximately 0.7 miles long from its trail head on Road 191 at KM 12.2 of the Palo Colorado Ranger Station. It has an elevated drop from 2100 feet to 1640 feet that would take a one way, 40-minute average hike. The La Mina Trail has been rated as “challenging,” as far as the level of difficulty is concerned, by the U.S. Forest Services due to its narrow path and series of steps along the trail.
Before you start your trek to La Mina Falls, prepare everything that you will need during your hike and for swimming when you get to your destination. Have an idea of the trail conditions from park rangers at the Palo Colorado station such as what footwear (walking sandals, sneakers or boots) would be most suitable, for instance, and other gear you should bring (jacket and extra t-shirts).
You should also pack your own water bottle, a small first aid kit, some fruits and nuts to munch on in case you get hungry during your hike, a couple of towels if you plan to go swimming, and emergency medication for headache, stomach ache, and other common ailments and be sure you have protection against ultraviolet (UV) rays (sunglasses, sunscreen, hat or bandanna). Enjoy a cool natural shower under the La Mina Falls!