The Trail: Starting at the trailhead sign, the trail ascends rapidly through the Sierra Palm forest, crosses two rushing mountain streams and then intersects with Forest Service Road 10 (closed to public vehicle traffic). The hiker turns right and continues along this road for approximately 500 feet, where it intersects with the remaining portion of the trail. The trail leads steeply upward through the Cloud Forest – take a right towards Mount Britton Tower or go straight or to the left to continue onto El Yunque Peak.
The Tower: Constructed of stone, the tower was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937-38, becoming the tallest of the Civilian Conservation Corp towers with stone masonry. Both tower and trail are named for botanist Nathaniel Britton who with his wife and colleague, bryologist Elizabeth Knight Britton identified a substantial amount of the native and endemic tree and plant species of the Luquillo mountains in 1912. They began and completed the compilation of a “Scientific Survey of Porto Rico,” a survey of the physical and natural history of the island focusing on its geology, zoology, botany, culture and broader natural science fields. The 19 volume product of this survey stands as one of the most complete descriptions of the natural history of any tropical area in the world!
On a clear day the tower’s observation deck affords the lucky hiker a panoramic view of the surrounding forest, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the southeastern and northeastern coastal plain.
Location: : The trailhead is located on a one way loop road, PR 9938, located off the upper (southern) end of PR 191 (near Km. 13).
Distance: 1.3 km
Time: 45 minutes one-way
Elevation: 760-940 meters; Tower is at 3,087 feet
Amenities: Rain Shelters
Special Safety Messages: Limited parking is available along the road in designated areas. Cars must be parked well off the road, not blocking the road or trailhead, and should be locked with any valuables secured in the trunk or carried along on the trail.
A segment of Rd 10 is being repaired and closed to pedestrian access. Stay on the trail to return to the vehicle parking area.