The Mt. Britton Tower sits high up on a hill in the lush El Yunque National Forest of Puerto Rico. This stone structure was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, an organization formed by Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide jobs in environmental conservation. On clear days, the views from the tower stretch over the dense vegetation all the way to the coast. But even on gloomier days, the walk through the cloud forest is beautiful and we thought it was cool to be able to experience the misty weather that this area is known for.
Getting to the Mt. Britton Tower Trailhead
The trailhead for the Mt. Britton Tower hike sits just off PR-191, which is the main road running through El Yunque National Forest. We were coming from Luquillo, so we followed PR-191 south from El Portal Visitor’s Center until we reached the turnoff for PR-9938. This is a one-way loop that circles back to PR-191. Along the loop there is a small parking area and some other limited spaces along the road.
Hurricanes have caused landslides and other damage to the infrastructure in El Yunque over the recent years, so there is ongoing construction. There is a road that leads up closer to the tower, but this was closed when we went. So, we parked along PR-9938 as mentioned above and took the trail from there.
As of 2023, there also seems to be construction along PR-9938, closing a portion of the loop. Other parking is available near Baño Grande. The good news is that closures and other signage were pretty clear in the park when we visited. Be sure to check the National Forest site for closures and other information before your visit or stop at the visitor’s center on the way in for updates.
If you don’t have your own transportation, booking a tour is a good option that will allow you to hit multiple park highlights. Taxis and rideshares are not permitted in El Yunque, so a tour is your best bet if you don’t plan to rent a car. There are tours that leave from Luquillo, San Juan, and other areas.
The entrance gate near La Coca Falls along the road to the Mt. Britton Tower trailhead opens daily at 8 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m. Visitors must exit before 5 p.m. We recommend arriving early to secure parking at the trailhead.
Holiday hours may differ and the Forest Service may also close roads in the park during hazardous weather. Check here for alerts and closures.
Fees & Reservations
While some attractions in El Yunque charge a fee, access to the Mt. Britton Tower is free.
However, a reservation system has been put in place to reduce crowding along the PR-191 route past La Coca Falls. Make your reservation up to one month in advance on Recreation.gov. If you’d like to wait until closer to your excursion, there are some spots that will be released at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. within 24 hours of visits. You cannot obtain a reservation ticket upon arrival at the park.
The reservation is technically free, but Recreation.gov charges USD$2 per transaction. You can make a reservation for up to two cars at a time and must have your printed or e-ticket along with your ID when arriving at the park.
If you come with an organized tour, the reservation will likely be included or taken care of for you. But confirm this beforehand if it isn’t clear upon booking.
Hiking to the Mt. Britton Tower
Hike Type: Moderate out-and-back trail
Distance: 2.6 kilometers (1.6 miles) roundtrip from the trailhead parking area along PR-9938
Duration: 1h15m – 1h45m
Regulations: Please stay on the trail. Take note of construction signage and closures in the area. Pets are permitted on leash.
After stops at La Coca Falls and Juan Diego Falls, we made our way to the Mt. Britton Tower trailhead. It was a cool, gloomy morning, which maybe played a role in how quiet the forest was.
The trail ascended right from the beginning, winding through the palm forest. We were happy to be walking on the maintained stone path as opposed to the muddy trails we encountered earlier. Beautiful flowers were blooming along the trail and the thick mist brushed the treetops around us.
Soon, we came out to forest road 10, which usually provides access closer to the Mt. Britton Tower, but was closed at the time. We walked the road for a short way before following the path back into the forest. The trail is pretty steep, but it isn’t a long way to the tower and there are multiple little shelters to take a break at along the way.
The Mt. Britton Tower soon emerged from the palms ahead of us. We climbed the concrete stairs to the top and misty clouds rushed past us with the breeze. The fog concealed all of the surrounding views, but we enjoyed experiencing the cloud forest. Luckily, the sun came out later when we headed down and while we visited the Yokahú Tower, allowing us to witness the vast views over the rainforest.
After our time at the tower, we headed back the way we came to continue our El Yunque adventure. You can also continue hiking to El Yunque Peak from near the tower, which would add another couple hours to your adventure. See the map below.
What to Bring to Hike to the Mt. Britton Tower
Water: There is nowhere to fill water near the Mt. Britton Tower trail, so bring plenty for the hike.
Snacks: If you’d like to refuel along the way.
Comfortable Shoes: The trail is steep and can get slippery when wet, so wear comfortable, sturdy shoes with good tread.
Rain Jacket: Rain is very frequent here!
Camera: If you’d like to capture your adventure.
Reservation Ticket: Required to access the Mt. Britton trail.
ID: You may have to show your ID along with your reservation.