NNL Vista Trail
Updated: Sep 10
Total triangle hike - 2.5 miles, about 1 hour:
Paved road from VNWR Gate to South Parking Lot (lower flag, 18.1212, -65.4254) - .8 miles;
Off road trail under canopy (lower flag to upper flag) - .7 miles;
Gravel Road from VNWR Gate to North Parking Lot (upper flag, 18.1288, -65.4275) - 1.0 mile;
45 - 60 min. round-trip;
Best in the morning before 10am or in the afternoon after 3pm
Recommend sneakers, water, camera
"Backbone" of the triangle is a dry, dirt track, moderate but steady rise
"Base" of triangle is a flat, paved road. Recommend walking on the single- track, dirt path in the grass which parallels the north side of the road.
"Slope" of triangle is a gravel road with a few steep sections.
Trail is located on the Vieques Nat'l Wildlife Refuge
Things to observe on a Nature Walk up the NNL Trail.
I love the watchtower trail because of its abundance of birds to hear. One frequent birdsong might be of a "Reinita Mariposera". A noisy conversation between two birds might be some woodpeckers nearby.
I also tell my group to carefully observe the soil, because as you hike up this trail, you will see slight changes in its composition. Halfway through the trail, there's a curious tree full of thick spikes. This is a "Espino Rubial" tree, and when it was young it was covered top to bottom in sharp spikes. But as this tree grows, very similar to the iconic Ceiba, the spikes become bigger and farther in between, because the trunk of the tree doesn't need so many spikes anymore, since it is big and strong, unlike when it was just a young sapling.
I would point out other vegetation, like the papaya tree next to the "Espino Rubial", the many flowers that attract all types of butterflies and critters. You can observe interesting bugs like the giant millipede or "Gongolón". The giant millipede is safe to grab, but be careful! Its poop can stain clothes! But one can observe them easily crawling slowly on low hanging branches.
The trail is a great spot for reptilian observation as well! The types of lizards you can spot are endless, and you might even be lucky and see two lizards fighting! This trail has so many tiny things to offer, one could stay for hours just analyzing the soil, or the vegetation, or the wildlife. These are just a few things I almost always encounter while on this trail, but anything is possible!
- Venus A. Paez Hernandez, Certified Interpretive Guide & Biology Undergrad, UPR
Post text, images and map by Greg Guckenburg,
Elliot Anderson, Venus Paez Hernandez and Susan Bromm