Mountain Hike Vacation in St. Lucia
The Mountain Hiker Rating: 8 out of 10
- Contributor: MGF
- Time required: 6 – 8 hours
- Degree of Difficulty: 7 out of 10
- Height: 3,117 feet [950 meters] (Actual hiking vertical is approximately 1,970 feet [600m], as the trail starts somewhere around 1,150 feet [350 meters])
- Distance: Approximately 5-6 miles (8-10km) round trip
- Guide Required: YES. The trail is not well marked and more importantly the Saint Lucian government has mandated the use of ‘licensed’ guides to accompany visitors when hiking in St. Lucia forest reserves.
Our Mount Gimie hike started with a gradual uphill climb along a typical Caribbean island secondary road for about 40 minutes or so. Although this is a rough road, it is a nice walk. This part of the trail has some nice views of nearby valleys, as well as a few grapefruit and tangerine trees on the side of the road along the way. For the next hour or so our local guide took us through some dense rainforest, going down into a valley and crossing a small river, before climbing the mountain itself. At this point, it’s pretty much uphill, at a steeper incline, for another hour or so until you get to the top. There are many photo opportunities along the way, including some amazing rainforest plants as well as some clear views of the Pitons.
This is a wild hike, with our guide clearing parts of the trail with his machete as we walked along. The trail has plenty of up and downs and twists and turns, along with some very interesting footing. Actually, there are a few short distances of vertical where we climbed (some up, some down) with our hands using tree roots as a natural ladder. The trail is full of amazing flora (plant life), some of which are used in traditional herbal medicines, and some of which just look cool. We saw some humming birds on this hike as well. Our guide pointed out and explained both plants and birds of interest to us in detail. These short breaks conveniently allowed us to drink some water and catch our breath.
From the top of Mount Gimie we could clearly see the East and South coastlines, including Vieux Fort and the Maria Islands as well as the rugged terrain of St. Lucia itself, stretching out to the North of the island. Being we’re inland and in a rainforest, it’s common for the top of the mountain to be enveloped in clouds, however we lucked out with a spectacular view – Our reward for making it to the top.
Once we descended the mountain and started our way back through the valley, we took a little detour and followed the river upstream to a small waterfall and pool, where we cooled off for a while. It was nice to feel the cool water on my over-heating feet!
Other than the folks in our party, we did not see anyone else during this hike. This trail is likely not used more than a few times a month.
In summary – St. Lucia’s Mount Gimie trail hike really has it all. It’s not too long or too steep for too long, has a number of near vertical sections to spice things up a bit, is filled with amazing plant life and a waterfall, and has some spectacular views… We did not come across any snakes or spiders on our hike, and the mosquitoes / no-see-ums were a non-issue, even without insect repellent. I did get a few cuts however, on my hands and legs, from the razor grass – No big deal.
The Mountain Hiker Tip: When crossing or walking up small/shallow rivers, just get your feet wet and walk on the river bottom. Trying to keep your shoes dry by jumping from rock to rock is likely to end up with a fall or two (It usually does with me).
Note: For our hike, we started at the main road in the town of Migny. We chose not to drive up the rough secondary road, which is an option if you have nerves of steel and a vehicle with decent ground clearance. If you do drive part way up the trail / road, you can reduce the total hike time by an hour or more. But what’s the rush?
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