Gros Pitons

  • Petit Piton From Gros Piton - © Flickr user James V. McCoy
  • Piton Ridge - © Flickr user Aramil Liadon
  • Gros Piton - © Flickr user joshplahm
  • Gros Piton - © Flickr user lizzylizinator
  • © James V. McCoy
  • Pitons - © Flickr user fussball_89
  • View of Petit Piton - © Flickr user James V. McCoy

Key information: Gros Pitons

  • Spectacular views of St. Lucia's verdant islands from the top of their iconic landmark -the knife-like twin volcanic cones of the Pitons mountains.
  • Steep pathways lead through dense jungle vegetation to the summit of the towering UNESCO-listed rock spires.
  • Though only 789m above sea-level, Gros Piton is a tough walk due to its steepness and the heat. It should not be attempted within six hours of rain.
  • Guide accompaniment is required by the National Park.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating84
  • Beauty30
  • Natural interest16
  • Human interest6
  • Charisma32
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating84

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Half day
  • Maximum Altitude: 800m
  • Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
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Piton Ridge - © Flickr user Aramil Liadon

WALK SUMMARY

The Gros and Petit Pitons of St Lucia are iconic, two cones of volcanic rock thrust up knife-like from the sparkling surf. These, more than anything, are the symbols of this small island country; it?s impossible to find a tourist brochure that does not feature them, and yet few people actually attempt to climb them. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, one can see that the mountains? near-vertical jut would be daunting, but in fact the walk up Gros Piton (Petit Piton is closed to hikers - at least officially - and requires climbing skills) represents a tough half-day climb (two hours up) for the reasonably fit, and the views from the peak of the island, the azure Caribbean beyond and, in the far distance, the island of Martinique, are unforgettable.

The Gros Piton Nature Trail leads from the historic town of Fond Gens Libre, whose inhabitants, many of them descended from the brigands and rebel slaves who used the area as shelter in the 1700s, can be hired as guides today - enquire at the Interpretive Centre. The trail leads up through lush, tropical deciduous woodland past buttresses of remarkable proportions, on these astounding conical protrusions from a serene and beautiful ocean. The woodland is crammed with diverse wildlife, including the St. Lucian Oriole, the St. Lucia Black Finch and the Red-necked Pigeon, and locals farm fruit and burn charcoal on the slopes. Many people give up at the first viewpoint, halfway up the ascent - the trails gets significantly tougher from hereon in - but the incredible panoramic views as you emerge onto the summit justify the pain of reaching them: the marvelous coast sweeping away, the lush vegetation extending right down to the shore. The sky is radiant, huge, and the sea deep and pure.

St Lucia has a rich and chequered history of French and then British colonialisation, of pirates and brigands and a heroic slave rebellion. It is a heady concoction of cultures -which can occasionally lead to a level of lawlessness of which one needs to take a modicum of care. Sadly, this means that many of the island?s visitors stick to the resorts, mainly on the North coast, depriving themselves of a fascinating glimpse of extraordinary flora and fauna, geological marvels and a riveting, melting-pot culture ? and of course meaning that most of their much-needed tourist dollars get siphoned off to holding companies and never hit the local economy at all. For anyone of a reasonable level of fitness, the walk up the Gros Piton is a must, if you are visiting here.

The sulphur from the nearby active volcano, Mt. Gimie, can occasionally be noxious.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

Gros Piton - ©Flickr user lizzylizinator

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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© James V. McCoy...
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