Cerro La Punta, The High Point of Puerto Rico
Cerro de Punta, at 4,389 feet tall, is Puerto Rico’s tallest mountain. Unlike many Caribbean mountains, Cerro de Punta is not a volcano but simply the highest point in La Cordillera Central (The Central Mountain ranges) that divides the island by running in an east-west pattern. In a way of comparison, the highest peak in the eastern United States is North Carolina’s Mt. Mitchell, which rises to a height of 6,684 feet above sea level. Cerro de Punta is located close to the center of Puerto Rico in the town of Jayuya.
Those who would like to visit Cerro de Punta may wish to stay at Parador Hacienda Gripiñas in Jayuya. Formerly a coffee plantation, Hacienda Gripiñas still grows coffee on a small scale. The main buildings have been restored and converted into well-appointed guest rooms with air conditioning. Hacienda Gripiñas is the perfect place to stay when exploring the natural delights of the rugged Cordillera Central, and Cerro de Punta especially, as a dedicated hiking trail to the mountain can be accessed from the inn.
Those with the strength and stamina to climb Cerro de Punta all the way to the summit are rewarded with the best view in all of Puerto Rico. In fact, “all of Puerto Rico” IS the view, since on a clear day one can see the entire island unfold beneath them on all sides. Even San Juan is visible, over 75 miles away. If hiking up the rocky slope seems a bit much, a paved road also runs to the top. The road is said to be very steep in some places, however, so it’s definitely not a “Sunday drive”. The hike is not to be taken lightly either, as the trails are not well marked and often suffer damage from storms.
For those who are of an intrepid spirit and delight in the wonders of nature, however, hiking on and around Cerro de Punta can be a memorable experience. The abundant wildlife, flowering vegetation and the sight of one beautiful waterfall after another make any difficulties experienced well worth the trouble!