Hikes Near Gourbeyre

La Madeleine Trail
Part 1

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Time: 5 hours. Difficulty: 4-5. Not marked; take food and water. Trailhead: The departure for this hike is located at the crushing station to the southeast of La Madeleine, on new RN1 past Gourbeyre and La Regrettee, coming from Basse-Terre. You can park nearby.

La Madeleine is one of Guadeloupe's most important volcanoes. The trail, which goes through diverse landscapes, is for experienced hikers skilled at finding their way. The trail--not blazed--is sometimes confusing, especially after the climb to Petit Carbet, where it meanders into mostly marshland.

After parking and reaching the end of the crushing station, take the concrete service road through the banana plantation, a severe and difficult incline. Fortunately, it eventually levels out.

Three hundred meters farther--and here you have to pay attention--the trail bears right from where the hibiscus branches form a vault. Stay on this trail; a concrete stretch will eventually appear. You are now in a dense forest populated with redwood and white mahogany, a slender tree of moderate size, with smooth light bark.

The trail now climbs steadily and makes a sharp left turn, followed shortly by another turn to the right. At the end of the path you'll have to step over a tree trunk.

A few minutes after this obstacle, you leave the main trail that continues straight ahead. Instead, you want to take a right turn to follow a narrow trail bending left for a good 100 meters on level ground. Then it descends rapidly to Petit Carbet, whose source is on the southeast flank of la Citerne, at the bottom of a difficult ravine.

The trail crosses a calm river where you might see some large crayfish, armed with pincers. Beyond, the trail continues into flat and marshy terrain. It is sometimes difficult to follow the trail beyond this point.

About 300 meters after the junction, cross at a perpendicular angle a ravine that comes from the mountain on your right. About 10 meters farther, turn right onto a recently opened trail and climb back up to the ravine, shallower and wider at this point.

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