Guadeloupe
Vauchelet Cascade Trail
This short walk is like an unmarked nature trail.

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Time: 45 minutes round trip. Difficulty Level: 2. This trail is marked only at the beginning. The cascade, located about 500 meters northeast of Saint-Claude, was formed by a rupture in the bank of the Riviere Noire.

Trailhead: Depart and return to the Saint-Claude police station across from the prefect's residence.

After parking near the police station, stay on the concrete road that ends at a house. Go around the house by walking to the left, below a small wall.

The trail, narrow at the beginning and sometimes overgrown with tall grass, becomes wide and shaded.

The walk takes about 20 minutes, giving you time to notice several interesting plants: the chestnut, with large leaves and fat prickly burrs; and also the Resolute Tree (Chimarrhis cymosa), with its clusters of white flowers. Its yellowish-orange wood--very hard and insect-resistant--is used in construction.

Along the path's edge, you'll also see sang dragon (or swamp bloodwood, a large tree with enormous buttress roots and blood-red latex in the sap), heliconias, cannon wood, numerous tree ferns, and the rose apple, whose fruits are delicious and fragrant.

The trail, now overlooking the river, bends right, then descends and becomes narrower, bringing you opposite the tumbling waters of the Riviere Noire. The cascade has at least a 20-meter drop.

Cross the bridge (flanked on the right by an enormous chestnut tree) reaching the cascade and its basin. To the left and a little before the pool are the remains of a shelter built by the Montagnards.

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