The Bassin Bleu and the Parabole
Time: 2.5 hours. Difficulty: 2-4. Parts of this hike require wading in water, scrambling up walls and some rock climbing. Not marked; the trail is easy to Bassin Bleu, difficult after that. Trailhead: Depart and arrive on the Moscou Road, 4km northeast of Gourbeyre.
The Galion River is born at the foot of La Soufriere, and tumbles down a series of cascades, entering the Caribbean near Fort Saint-Charles. If the large Galion Waterfall (Hike 9) is well known, the same certainly is not true of other cascades like Bassin Bleu and la Parabole, which are rarely visited.
The departure point is northeast of Gourbeyre. To get there from town, take the Plateau du Palmiste Road (next to town hall) by following the signs for the Park--Trace des Etangs (Trail of the Ponds). A second sign is located 3km from the town hall; take the road to the left.
On this route, you pass 2 roads going off to the left. Park at the bottom of the hill after the second road, at a crossroads area on the left. From the crossroads, go about 10 meters to a break in the hedge on the left, the starting point for your hike. This hedge break can be hard to spot when the grass is high.
This trail was created several years ago to facilitate construction of a water intake in Bassin Bleu. After a 10 minute walk, this rather wet and humid trail crosses a cultivated banana grove, then climbs a little ravine and goes into a forest.
In a short time, you'll come out into the main bed of the Galion River, across from the Bassin Bleu. It takes only 20 minutes to reach this small body of water, wedged between two rock walls and fed by a vigorous stream spurting from a volcanic gully six meters above.
Continue toward La Parabole by scaling the little rise on the right. A rope may hang there; otherwise, grab some roots to help you up.
Follow the water culvert past the concrete structure, to where it crosses the river to collect the cold water of the misnamed Ravine Chaude (chaude means "warm"). From this confluence, there is hardly any trail: you have only the river to guide you.
To reach La Parabole, it's necessary to look for a trail on the bank, wade in the water, leap from rock to rock, climb the wall of a small cascade...an adventure of sorts...if you're up to it.
Otherwise, it's best to turn back.