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Charco Prieto Waterfall: Hiking To Puerto Rico’s Secret Waterfall


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Priscella Johnston



Welcome to Puerto Rico, a beautiful island brimming with lush rainforests, stunning beaches, and hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Among these hidden gems is the breathtaking Charco Prieto Waterfall, a secret oasis nestled in the heart of the island’s rugged terrain. If you are a nature enthusiast and love adventure, hiking to Charco Prieto Waterfall is an experience you don’t want to miss.


The Charco Prieto Waterfall offers a mesmerizing sight, with its crystal-clear waters cascading down moss-covered rocks into a tranquil pool below. Surrounded by lush vegetation and the sounds of nature, it’s a place that feels like a hidden paradise, untouched by the hustle and bustle of everyday life.


Located off the beaten path, Charco Prieto Waterfall is not as well-known as some of Puerto Rico’s famous attractions. This makes it the perfect destination for those seeking a more intimate and secluded experience in nature. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting your outdoor adventures, this enchanting waterfall hike is accessible to all skill levels.


In this article, we will guide you through the journey of hiking to Charco Prieto Waterfall, providing you with essential information and tips to ensure a safe and memorable experience. From the background of the waterfall to detailed trail descriptions, we’ve got you covered.


So, grab your hiking boots, pack your backpack, and get ready for an unforgettable journey as we embark on an exploration of Charco Prieto Waterfall!


Background of Charco Prieto Waterfall

Charco Prieto Waterfall, also known as La Soplaera, is located in the municipality of Barranquitas, in the central region of Puerto Rico. This hidden gem remains relatively unknown to tourists, adding to its allure and ensuring a peaceful and serene experience.


The waterfall gets its name from the dark color of the rocks, which resemble charcoal, giving it a unique and mysterious appearance. The water flows from the Charco Prieto River, originating in the mountains of Barranquitas, and gracefully plunges down a series of cascades, forming the mesmerizing waterfall.


The surrounding area is lush with tropical foliage, including towering trees, vibrant ferns, and a variety of colorful wildflowers. The enchanting sounds of chirping birds and rustling leaves create a soothing ambiance that enhances the overall experience of visiting Charco Prieto Waterfall.


The waterfall and the surrounding landscape hold cultural significance for the local community. The area is a part of the Carite Forest Reserve, which is home to diverse flora and fauna. The reserve is also known for its historical importance in Puerto Rican culture, with evidence of ancient Indigenous settlements and artifacts found in the vicinity.


Charco Prieto Waterfall is not only a natural wonder but also a refuge for wildlife. It provides a habitat for various species, including the Puerto Rican parrot, an endangered bird endemic to the island. The presence of such unique flora and fauna makes the hike to Charco Prieto Waterfall an opportunity for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts to witness and appreciate Puerto Rico’s biodiversity.


Overall, Charco Prieto Waterfall offers a glimpse into the natural beauty and cultural significance of Puerto Rico. It is a place where visitors can connect with nature, unwind in a serene setting, and immerse themselves in the island’s rich history.


How to Get to Charco Prieto Waterfall

Getting to Charco Prieto Waterfall requires a bit of planning and navigation, as it is tucked away in the heart of Barranquitas. Here are the steps to reach this hidden gem:


1. Starting Point: The hike to Charco Prieto Waterfall begins at the town of Barranquitas. You can reach Barranquitas by car from San Juan, the capital city of Puerto Rico. The drive takes approximately an hour, depending on traffic and road conditions.


2. Parking: Once you reach Barranquitas, you will need to find a suitable parking spot. There are designated parking areas near the starting point of the trail, where you can safely leave your vehicle. It is advisable to park in well-lit and secure areas to ensure the safety of your belongings.


3. Trailhead: From the parking area, you will need to locate the trailhead that leads to Charco Prieto Waterfall. The trailhead is marked with signage, making it easier to find. It is recommended to use a GPS or a hiking app to ensure you are on the right path.


4. Hiking Route: The hiking route to Charco Prieto Waterfall is approximately 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) long, with a moderate level of difficulty. The trail is well-maintained but can be uneven and rocky in some parts, so it’s important to wear sturdy hiking shoes and use caution while walking.


5. Hiking Time: The duration of the hike can vary depending on your pace and fitness level. On average, it takes around 1.5 to 2 hours to reach Charco Prieto Waterfall from the trailhead. It’s advisable to allocate enough time for the hike to allow for breaks, photography, and enjoying the surroundings.


6. Guided Tours: If you prefer a more guided experience or are unfamiliar with the area, you can opt for guided tours that offer transportation to the trailhead and knowledgeable guides to accompany you. This can be a great option for first-time hikers or those who want to learn more about the flora, fauna, and history of the region.


Remember to pack essential items for the hike, such as plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a first aid kit. It’s also crucial to check the weather conditions before setting out, as heavy rainfall can make the trail more challenging and unsafe.


By following these steps, you will be well-prepared to embark on the adventure of hiking to Charco Prieto Waterfall and discovering the hidden beauty of Puerto Rico’s natural landscape.


Preparing for the Hike

Embarking on a hike to Charco Prieto Waterfall requires proper preparation to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some essential tips to help you get ready for the adventure:


1. Research and Plan: Before setting out, gather information about the trail, including its difficulty level, length, and any potential hazards. Familiarize yourself with the route and landmarks along the way to avoid getting lost. It’s also helpful to read reviews or speak with experienced hikers who have previously visited Charco Prieto Waterfall.


2. Check Weather Conditions: Keep a close eye on the weather forecast before your hike. Heavy rainfall can make the trail slippery and more challenging, so it’s important to choose a day with favorable weather conditions. Postpone your hike if there are any severe weather warnings or dangerous conditions anticipated.


3. Wear Appropriate Gear: Dressing appropriately for the hike is essential. Wear comfortable and moisture-wicking clothing that allows freedom of movement. Opt for sturdy hiking boots or shoes with good traction to navigate the uneven terrain. Don’t forget to wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.


4. Pack Essential Supplies: Make sure to carry a backpack with essential items for the hike. Pack enough water to stay hydrated throughout the journey. Energy-rich snacks, such as trail mix or granola bars, will help keep your energy levels up. Carry a fully charged mobile phone for emergencies and a map or compass in case you need to navigate your way.


5. Apply Insect Repellent: Puerto Rico’s tropical climate is known for its mosquito population. Apply insect repellent before starting the hike to protect yourself from bug bites. Consider wearing long-sleeved clothing and pants to minimize exposed skin.


6. Fitness and Health Considerations: Hiking to Charco Prieto Waterfall involves moderate physical exertion. Ensure you are in good health and have a basic level of fitness to handle the trail’s demands. If you have any pre-existing health conditions or concerns, consult with your healthcare professional before attempting the hike.


7. Leave No Trace: As you explore the trail and reach the waterfall, remember to practice Leave No Trace principles. Respect the environment by packing out any trash you generate, minimizing your impact, and refraining from picking or damaging any flora or fauna along the way.


By adequately preparing for the hike to Charco Prieto Waterfall, you’ll be ready to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of Puerto Rico’s natural landscape while ensuring your safety and the preservation of the environment.


Trail Description and Difficulty Level

The trail to Charco Prieto Waterfall offers a captivating journey through the beautiful Barranquitas region of Puerto Rico. Here’s a description of the trail and an overview of its difficulty level:


The trail begins with a gradual ascent, leading you through dense tropical vegetation and towering trees. The path is well-marked, making it easy to navigate. As you progress, you’ll encounter rocky terrain and some sections that may require careful footing. It’s recommended to wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots to provide better traction and stability.


Along the trail, you’ll come across several scenic viewpoints, offering panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys. These viewpoints provide great opportunities to pause, rest, and take in the breathtaking natural beauty of the area. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture these memorable moments.


The trail to Charco Prieto Waterfall is approximately 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) long, making it a moderate-level hike. While it is suitable for hikers of all skill levels, it does require a basic level of fitness and endurance. The uneven terrain and occasional steep sections may pose a challenge for some individuals, so it’s important to pace yourself and take breaks when needed.


As you near the waterfall, the sound of rushing water grows louder, building anticipation for the awe-inspiring sight that awaits you. The trail gradually descends towards the waterfall, and you’ll notice an increase in humidity and a refreshing mist in the air.


Reaching Charco Prieto Waterfall is a reward in itself. The sight of the crystal-clear water cascading down the rocks into a serene pool below is a true spectacle of nature. Take your time to relax, swim, or simply soak up the peaceful atmosphere of this hidden oasis before making your way back.


It’s important to note that while the trail itself is not overly challenging, the conditions may vary depending on weather and recent rainfall. Heavy rainfall can make the trail slippery, so caution is advised. It’s always a good idea to check for any trail closures or advisories before setting out.


Overall, the trail to Charco Prieto Waterfall offers a moderate-level hike suitable for nature enthusiasts of various skill levels. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the stunning beauty of Puerto Rico’s natural landscape while enjoying a fulfilling outdoor adventure.


Exploring the Charco Prieto Waterfall

Exploring Charco Prieto Waterfall is a truly memorable experience that allows you to connect with nature and revel in the tranquility of this hidden gem. Here’s what you can expect when you arrive at the waterfall:


As you approach the waterfall, you’ll be captivated by the sight and sound of the cascading waters. The crystal-clear water gushes down the moss-covered rocks, creating a mesmerizing and picturesque scene. Take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty and let the soothing sound of the waterfall wash over you.


The pool at the base of the waterfall beckons you to take a refreshing dip. The water is cool and invigorating, providing relief from the tropical heat of Puerto Rico. Swim in the clear pool and let the waterfall’s gentle spray rejuvenate your senses. It’s important to swim with caution and adhere to any safety guidelines or restrictions in place.


For those seeking a more adventurous experience, there are opportunities for cliff jumping into the pool below. However, always exercise caution and assess the depth of the water before attempting any jumps. Safety should be the top priority when engaging in such activities.


Surrounding the waterfall and pool are large, smooth rocks, offering the perfect place to sit and bask in the natural beauty of the surroundings. Relax and take in the peaceful atmosphere as you enjoy a picnic or simply contemplate the wonders of nature.


Photography enthusiasts will find that Charco Prieto Waterfall provides a stunning backdrop for capturing breathtaking shots. The combination of lush greenery, cascading water, and the serenity of the surroundings offers ample opportunities to capture the essence of this hidden paradise.


It’s important to respect the natural environment and leave it undisturbed. Avoid littering and be mindful of any guidelines or regulations in place for protecting the area. By doing so, you contribute to the preservation of this natural treasure for future generations to enjoy.


Before leaving the waterfall, take a final moment to appreciate its beauty and the sense of tranquility it offers. Reflect on the privilege of having experienced this hidden gem and take the memories with you as you head back towards the trailhead.


Exploring Charco Prieto Waterfall is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty and serenity of Puerto Rico’s natural landscape. Allow yourself time to connect with nature, unwind, and create memories that will last a lifetime.


Safety Tips for Hiking to Charco Prieto Waterfall

While hiking to Charco Prieto Waterfall is an exciting and rewarding experience, it’s important to prioritize safety to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. Here are some essential safety tips to remember before embarking on the hike:


1. Research and Prepare: Familiarize yourself with the trail, its difficulty level, and any potential hazards. Research the weather conditions for the day and plan your hike accordingly. Check for any trail closures or advisories before setting out.


2. Wear Proper Gear: Dress in lightweight, breathable clothing suitable for hiking. Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots with good traction to navigate the rocky terrain. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Consider using insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes and other bugs.


3. Hydrate and Fuel Up: Carry plenty of water to stay hydrated during the hike. It’s recommended to bring at least one liter of water per person. Pack energy-rich snacks such as trail mix or granola bars to maintain your energy levels throughout the journey.


4. Pace Yourself: Hiking to Charco Prieto Waterfall is a moderate-level hike, but it’s important to listen to your body and pace yourself accordingly. Take breaks when needed, especially if you’re feeling fatigued. It’s better to progress at a comfortable pace rather than pushing yourself too hard.


5. Stay on the Trail: Follow the marked trail and avoid taking shortcuts or venturing off the designated path. Straying from the trail increases the risk of getting lost or encountering unsafe conditions. Adhere to any signage or guidelines in place for your safety.


6. Watch Your Step: Be mindful of your footing, especially on uneven or slippery terrain. Take extra caution when crossing streams or stepping on wet rocks. Pay attention to your surroundings and watch for any loose stones or potential hazards along the trail.


7. Be Aware of Weather Conditions: Keep an eye on the weather forecast before and during your hike. Be prepared for sudden changes in weather and adjust your plans accordingly. If there’s a risk of heavy rainfall or thunderstorms, it’s safer to postpone your hike to a later date.


8. Hike with a Buddy: It’s always advisable to hike with a companion, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area. Having a hiking buddy provides an extra layer of safety and support in case of an emergency.


9. Respect Wildlife and Nature: While you’re exploring the trail and enjoying the waterfall, remember to respect the wildlife and natural environment. Do not disturb or feed any animals you may encounter. Leave plants and natural features intact for others to enjoy.


10. Carry Safety Essentials: Pack a well-stocked first aid kit that includes basic supplies such as bandages, antiseptic, and any necessary medication. Carry a fully charged mobile phone for emergencies. It’s also a good idea to have a map, compass, or GPS device to navigate your way.


By following these safety tips, you’ll ensure a safer and more enjoyable hiking experience to Charco Prieto Waterfall. Remember, safety should always be a top priority during any outdoor adventure.



Hiking to Charco Prieto Waterfall is a truly unforgettable adventure that allows you to connect with the natural beauty and serenity of Puerto Rico. From the moment you set foot on the trail, you’ll be immersed in a world of lush vegetation, captivating vistas, and the soothing sound of cascading water.


As you navigate the trail and reach the hidden oasis of Charco Prieto Waterfall, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views and the opportunity to cool off in the crystal-clear waters. Whether you choose to swim, relax on the rocks, or capture the beauty through photography, this secluded paradise offers a sense of tranquility that is hard to find elsewhere.


However, it’s important to approach the hike with proper planning and safety in mind. Research the trail, prepare for the journey, and be aware of your surroundings. Stay hydrated, wear suitable gear, and hike at a comfortable pace. Respect nature, leave no trace, and prioritize safety at all times.


By following these guidelines, you’ll not only ensure your own safety but also contribute to the preservation of this hidden gem for future visitors to enjoy. Charco Prieto Waterfall offers a chance to escape the crowds and immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Puerto Rico, creating memories that will last a lifetime.


So, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner looking for an adventure, make sure to include Charco Prieto Waterfall in your Puerto Rico itinerary. Experience the magic, beauty, and tranquility that this hidden gem has to offer. From the lush foliage to the mesmerizing waterfall, every step along the trail is an invitation to connect with nature and find solace in the magnificence of Puerto Rico’s natural landscape.


So pack your hiking gear, prepare for an exciting journey, and prepare to be enchanted by the hidden paradise of Charco Prieto Waterfall. Get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty of Puerto Rico and create memories that will stay with you forever.