Charco Azul Fresh Water Natural Pool Puerto Rico Travel Guide

Ever since moving to Puerto Rico earlier this year, I am beach and water obsessed.   Coming from the hot, dry desert the beach is still a magical, mysterious place.  I am always on the hunt for special, secluded little places and ask all of the long-term residents about their favorite spots.  So I was surprised when multiple trusted locals told me about the secret mountain pools around the island.  Intrigued by other natural water activities, we decided on a visit to Charco Azul.

charco-azul-natural-pool-puerto-ricoCharco Azul is a fresh water, natural swimming pool located in the southeast mountain region of Puerto Rico.   It is close  to our neighborhood in Palmas Del Mar.  It is also the most popular natural pool on the island.   We braced ourselves for huge crowds and (possible) disappointment, then drove out Sunday morning in the off season (August – November) to explore. Continue reading “Charco Azul Fresh Water Natural Pool Puerto Rico Travel Guide”

South Mountain Park

Hiking is one of my favorite free activities in Phoenix.  Our desert valley is surrounded by mountains providing stunning views and wildlife.  South Mountain Park/Preserve in the heart of Phoenix is over 16,000 acres, approximately 20 times the size of New York’s Central Park, it is the largest municipal park in the country!  Now is the perfect time to Go Take a Hike!

South Mountain Park
South Mountain Park

South Mountain Park is easy access from anywhere in metro-Phoenix and offers trails for every level of athletic ability.  Horses, dogs, and mountain bikes are all welcome on the trails.

Desert Classic Trail
Desert Classic Trail

With nearly 60 miles of trails, I like to map out the hike before heading to a trail head.  Most trails are easily followed with metal signposts along the trail as a guide, and many of these were recently updated with trail name, QR code, elevation, and specific trail post information.  I always bring a hard copy trail map of the area I plan to be in.  A recent hike with friends was so beautiful we decided to add another couple miles to our hike, which was easily accomplished with a brief look at our trail map.south-mountain-park-map

 

 

There are at least 4 main parking lots, and many more parking areas near perimeter trail heads.2015_SM1There are excellent maps and detailed descriptions of trails provided by National Geographic at All Trails website.  Here is more information about the beautiful desert trails including petroglyphs and ruins.

Pima Canyon entrance from Guadalupe
Pima Canyon entrance from Guadalupe

Pima Canyon entrance is accessed from I-10 and Baseline road, just off of 48th street and Guadalupe.  This popular parking lot is usually packed with cars, and offers restrooms, water fountains, shaded benches, and areas for cooking/grilling.

Pima Canyon Gazebo
Pima Canyon Gazebo

 

Desert Foothills Parkway is a smaller parking lot located at the Southern tip of the park and offers shaded area, water fountains, and portable toilets.

Desert Foothills Parking and Gazebo
Desert Foothills Parking and Gazebo

 

 

Continue reading “South Mountain Park”