Puerto Rico  > Puerto Rico Islands > Isla Caja de Muertos > Hiking in Caja de Muertos

Hike to the top of Dead Men’s Box for Celestial Views…

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Puerto Rico is a playground for nature lovers offering nature reserves with great hiking trails. If you like hiking, then be sure to visit Caja de Muertos where you can explore a dry forest with dry plants such as cactus rising up to 20 feet tall.  Caja de Muertos is one of the natural treasures of Puerto Rico offering interesting hiking trails with unique flora, ruins of a lighthouse, and impressive views.

As you start out heading north on the trail, most of it is flat and fairly easy walking through a beautiful, tranquil, secluded “tunnel” of island, desert-like vegetation, including majestic 15 ft. high cacti.

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There are a few precious moments along this stretch where you can look up and see the lighthouse up and to the right.

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There is an extraordinary feeling of peacefulness and a true connection with nature. You’ll see many small lizards, white butterflies, large colourful caterpillars, birds, and species of interesting plants.

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The trail then turns east and up towards the lighthouse. This is where the challenge begins. Make sure to have hiking boots to do this. The trail is rugged, filled with rocks with jagged edges.  In our opinion, this is not a trail for young children. The surrounding vegetation is thick, but the trail is clear and about 6 feet wide the whole way to the top. You’ll need to pace yourself, unless you’re in really good shape, as you climb up the side of the mountain that the lighthouse sits on top of. You also need to concentrate on pretty much every step you take due to the rocks. Nevertheless, it is one of the best hikes in Puerto Rico.

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You cannot see the lighthouse as you walk up the trail, so the suspense and excitement builds as you yearn to make it to the top and ultimately see this historic landmark. During the last 50 yards or so of the trail, if you look up to the left, you can catch glimpses of the top of the lighthouse as it looms above.  Once there, be careful as you walk around the lighthouse, this is a very old structure built in 1887.  For your safety, the front door of the lighthouse is locked and no entry is permitted due to its deterioration.

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The entire hike is rewarding all by itself. For those that live hectic lives, hiking is a great way to “get away” and for a moment enjoy the simple things in life.  On this hike, you get an extra bonus reward…the views.  Walk around towards the south (counterclockwise) and you’ll find the observation deck.  Take a pause, breathe the fresh air and enjoy the celestial views with vivid colors of forest greens, to aquamarine and cerulean blues.

From the observation deck, the view is truly indescribably breathtaking…as you feel you are looking down on the southern end of the island from an airplane.

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Facilities on the hiking trail

Along the trail you can make a stop to rest at a gazebo with a picnic table. There is a restroom with a composting toilet.  There is no toilet paper or running water to wash your hands, so be sure to put a few wipes in your pocket and hand sanitizer.

Tips for hiking the trails at Caja de Muertos

  • Plan on 35-40 minutes each way to complete the 2+ mile journey to the lighthouse and back.
  • Try to go in the morning before it gets too hot.
  • Give yourself at least 2 hours in order to pace yourself and take great pictures.
  • Things to bring: camera, sunblock, and plenty of water  as there are no refreshments along the way.
  • Pay close attention to the main trail, as there are some semi-misleading “offshoots” that you don’t want to stray on.
  • On parts of the trail and around the lighthouse, there may be dead cacti laying on the ground and plants with long thorns, so be careful.
When you walk the trail, please look but don’t touch, stay on the designated trails, take the memories and nothing else.  The cactus have some pretty mean needles and there are two identified poisonous plants on the island named Manzanillo and Chicharron. Chicharron is comparable to Poison Ivy and you can also end up getting some nasty blisters on your skin from it. If you’re allergic to it, you may even have a worse reaction.  The fruit of Manzanillo which looks like a small apple, is poisonous and when you lay or stand below the branches it releases a toxin that can affect your respiratory system.

The Trails at Caja de Muertos

The main trail leads to the lighthouse, just before the intersection of trails to the lighthouse, you can follow the trails leading to Coast Guard beach, Playa Blanca, and Almeida Cave.

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