Hiking St. Lucia – Mount Gimie Trail
The island has about half a dozen mountains above 1,500 feet (500m), the tallest being Mount Gimie at just over 3,000 feet (950m).
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
The trail is not well marked and more importantly its mandated the use of our ‘licensed’ guides to accompany visitors when hiking in St. Lucia forest reserves.
This is a wild hike, our guide clearing parts of the trail with machete as you 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 your 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. you will see some humming birds on this hike as well. Our guide will point out and explaine both plants and birds of interest to guest in detail. These short breaks conveniently allowed you to drink some water and catch our breath.
Time required: 6 – 8 hours
Our Mount Gimie hike started with a gradual uphill climb along a typical 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 your guide will take you 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.
Your reward for making to the top
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 .
Once descended the mountain and started your way back through the valley, you can take a little detour and follow the river upstream to a small waterfall and pool, where you cooled off for a while. It was nice to feel the cool water on your over-heating feet!
Other than the folks in your party, you will 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… You will not come across any snakes or spiders on the hike, and the mosquitoes / no-see-ums were a non-issue, even without insect repellent. you get a few cuts however, on your hands and legs, from the razor grass – Not a big deal.
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 .
Note: For the hike, we started at the main road in the comunity of Migny or near the trail head. We can chose not to drive up the rough secondary road based on what vehicle that is used, which is an option if our driver have nerves of steel and a vehicle with decent ground clearance. Driving past way up the trail / road, can reduce the total hike time by an hour or more. But what’s the rush?