San Cristóbal Canyon or Cañon de San Cristobal has been named one of the top 10 Natural Wonders of Puerto Rico. Forests that end at sheer rock walls that rise out of rivers with beautiful waterfalls — sounds great right?!
It is not the easiest place to get to (being at the bottom of a 500+ foot descent), so it does require some planning and, for best results and safety, a guide!
There is Montaña Explora, a family-run tour company that offers an extreme adventure that includes hiking and rappelling in the canyon.
Orientation & Some History about Cañon de San Cristobal
Located in between Aibonito and Barranquitas, the San Cristóbal Canyon is the deepest canyon in all of the Antilles Islands. It is a naturally occurring split in the central mountain range called the Central Cordillera. The Río Usabón runs through the bottom of the canyon, some 500 feet below the surrounding area, cascading over rocks in a number of places.
The canyon had been used for years (from the 1950′s through 1974) as a dumping site for everything, including metal and machinery of all types. In 1974, the dumping was outlawed and the EPA started clean-up of all this toxic stuff, but evidence of this dumping site still remains embedded in the rock.
Today, the Fideicomiso de Conservación de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico Conservation Trust) owns the land surrounding the canyon, with the hope of preserving the area for future generatons.
It is not an easy place to find or hike into and a guide is recommended. I think that is good advice for all but the most experienced/prepared hikers. Once you find the trail (a task unto itself), it is slippery and steep. Also, the river can rise rapidly and extremely high, and the trail can become unusable during & after heavy rains. Having a knowledgable guide (especially one with safety ropes and other safety equipment available) can be a life saver (literally!).
A little help on how to hike this area Click Here.