Hikes of the Carbet Mountains
From Absalon to Verrier

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Time: 4 hours, one way. Difficulty: 3. The climb up Morne Chapeau Negre is difficult in some places due to erosion.

Trailhead: Arrive at the trail head either at Absalon via RN3, Route de la Trace (Trail Route); take the fork to the left about 6.2 miles (10k) after Fort-de-France and continue to the watering place.

An alternate trailhead can be reached at Verrier by Bellefontaine. Take a right at the entrance to the town and continue to the Chapeau Negre house. In either case you should have no parking problem.

This hike allows you to discover Martinique's gorgeous forest with views of Fort-de-France and Lamentin. Several routes are possible other than the one described below. You can climb to Piton Lacroix, whose ascent is particularly difficult, or go back down toward Morne Rose by way of the Saint-Cyr Savannah.

Departing Absalon, the trail begins with a steep incline under a canopy of white gum trees, riviera wood, cannon wood and mahogany.In about 20 minutes you'll arrive at a crossroads. Take the left to descend toward the Duclos River, which is full of the tiny crustaceans found in Martinique's streams.

This path will lead you across the Concorde Plateau and the Saint-Cyr Savannah, and into two forests of mahogany planted by the Office of National Forests.

Next, begin climbing Morne Chapeau Negre, which peaks at 912 meters. The climb begins in a forest of breadfruit trees and cannon wood. After about 1.5 hours, the flora becomes the stunted growth of high altitudes, mostly ferns and mosses, with some mountain mangroves and laurels.

The last part of the climb goes up a narrow ridge where you can look out over part of the northern Caribbean coast, the harbor of Fort-de-France, the plain of Lamentin, and the forests of la Donis, Morne Bois d'Inde and Morne Rose. On clear days, you can see part of the Atlantic coast of the Caravelle Peninsula to the south.

From the summit, descend west into Bellefontaine, a 1.5-hour walk, or return to Piton Dumauze via the difficult ascent of Piton Lacroix. You should count on 3 more hours to return to Absalon if you take the Duclos trail.

If you decide to return to Verrier, it will take you about an hour to return to the Chapeau Negre house. This descent goes through forest.

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