Climbing Blue Mountain Peak - Part 1
To really climb the mountain and not just part of it, the ascent should start from Mavis Bank, not Whitfield Hall.
Length: 14 miles round-trip from Whitfield Hall Hostel; this hike adds the stretch between Mavis Bank and the hostel (7 additional miles (one-way)).
Time: 2 full days. The first afternoon trek to Whitfield Hall Hostel takes 3-5 hours. The trip to the peak takes 3-4 hours. The return to Whitfield Hall averages 2-3 hours. [BZ1] Difficulty: 3-5 depending on the part of the track. Trailhead: Mavis Bank or Whitfield Hall.
Without doubt, one of the Caribbean's Top 5 hikes. If you make no other walk in Jamaica, this is the one to plan for. The peak has one of the remaining remnants of montane mist forest, a name derived from the mist that often hovers on the peaks between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Elfin woodland begins at about 5,500 feet and gradually fades into windswept scrub at the 7402-foot summit.
Trees at the peak are gnarled, short and twisted. They often wear a greenish-gray moss, ferns, lichens, epiphytes and sometimes host a dwarf species of orchid. Flowers hardy enough to grow in the chilly climate include honeysuckle, rhododendron, ginger lilies and the so-called Jamaica rose.
The full hike up Blue Mountain Peak typically begins at Mavis Bank, situated at about 2500 feet, where you'll immediately descend 1000 feet to cross the Clyde and Green rivers. While this descent is well shaded, you face an open, continuous climb from Green River to the community of Penlyne Castle before reaching Whitfield Hall Hostel.
This climb is usually made in the afternoon, the warmest part of the day. Since there is no forest canopy to shade you, expect to work up quite a sweat getting to Penlyne Castle. Some consider this leg the toughest part of the entire summit hike. A small collapsible umbrella keeps off the sun.
You should arrive at Whitfield Hall Hostel, a 200-year-old coffee plantation home surrounded by eucalyptus trees, in late afternoon. Whitfield Hall, located at 4,200 feet, is the farthest you can drive up Blue Mountain Peak.
The majority of hikers motor here, then lace-up their boots for the hike. If you've walked up from Mavis Bank, judge not harshly those who didn't. Yes, it's only 3,000 feet to the peak from Whitfield Hall, and you've just climbed 2,700 feet to reach the hostel, but try not to call them “Wimps!,” at least to their fresh, clean faces.