Hikes of Mount Pelee

Pelee by the North Face

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Pelee by the North Face

6 hours. Difficulty: 5. Fog may make the ascent treacherous. there is one dangerous passage before Morne Macouba. Also be aware of a barbed wire fence along the trail between the chapel and the savannah.

Trailhead: The 2 access points are situated on RN1 between Macouba (by the Cheneaux residence (Desiles district), at the exit from Macouba) or at the Beausejour residence (just before Grand Riviere). Trails from each of these access points lead to chapel, the actual trailhead, about halfway along the trail.

This is without doubt the least known and least used of the 3 routes to the summit of Mt. Pelee because of its length. Trail markings are satisfactory but take care not to leave the pathway while crossing the savannah, from the forest to the beginning of the ridge.

It's easy to stray and lose a good hour finding the trail again, especially in foggy weather.

Those who wish to go as far as possible by car should depart from Desiles; an all-terrain vehicle will get you to the chapel. From Beausejour, the trail traverses a banana grove, then takes a wooded path overlooking the Grand-Riviere Valley. After about a 1.5-hour walk, you'll arrive at the chapel at the junction of the 2 paths.

It is there that the real trail begins. You first walk beneath beautiful foliage in a man-made mahogany forest, then continue to climb in a rain forest of numerous mountain mangroves, breadfruits and cabbage palms.

After 30 minutes more, you arrive at a large savannah, where shrub-like vegetation barely pushes through numerous crevasses and ravines. The incline is now steeper; the savannah becomes a ridge after another 30 minutes.

After passing this ridge, you begin your ascent of Morne Macouba. All along the 30-minute climb, you have splendid views of banana groves and pineapple fields in Basse-Pointe and Macouba. In the distance, you'll see the neighboring island of Dominica.

Once at the summit of Morne Macouba, you'll reach the second shelter in a 15-minute hike along a ridge that is actually the edge of an ancient crater of Mount Pelee. You've reached your destination.

From this high altitude, in moist vegetation characteristic of Mount Pelee (mountain pineapple, ferns, lycopods, and some orchids) you can see both the north and south coasts, all the Atlantic townships as far as Caravelle. You can also admire the graceful and imposing silhouette of le Chinois (the Chinaman), which dominates the Caldeira.

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