Tobago
The Gilpin Trail
Part 2

More details of the Gilpin Trail.

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Orange-winged parrots, red-rumped woodpeckers, cockey crows and many different kinds of hummingbirds occupy the reserve. One of the rarest is the white-tailed saberwing hummingbird, which one forester has seen only 7 times in 6 years. He says that each occasion "was a privilege and honor to see it."

Agouti, armadillo, opossum and a several harmless snakes, including the counterfeit coral snake, live in the thick foliage. Cicadas call loudest at two times, just before the rainy season begins and ends. Another signal that the rainy season is on the way is the yellow poui tree, which flowers just before the regular showers begin.

An underground stream also appears at the start of the Gilpin Trail. Appearing like a tiny brook initially, after the first kilometer it's carved a gully over 100-feet deep you must cross on a large, reinforced log.

The trail is described according to how people usually divide up the walk:

Trailhead to the first waterfall: This short 1.4km. walk is the one most people make and never venture farther. You'll see at least thirty different species of ferns, including small tree ferns; also lots of bamboo.

Termites and ants furnish several unusual stopping points on this short segment. There are between 11 and 13 different kinds of termites, and each species exudes a kind of repellant to keep away predators. The system works: some of the Little Tobago mounds are huge.

Even more impressive is the 6-foot tall nest of leaf-cutter ants at the base of a tapana tree. The leaf cutters are the ones who carry small bits of green leaves in a wide line, so it sometimes seems the forest floor moves along like an escalator. A large ant trail on the right looks like it was created by a person sliding down the bank.

According to folklore, ants are handy for first aid if you happen to cut yourself: the theory is to use the ants to bind your wounds. You let them bite you, then pinch their bodies off and leave the heads there. Tough on the ants, though.

At 1.4km. you will reach a small, unnamed waterfall that is part the Gold-Silver River. The river gained its unusual name partly from the color of water, which has a shiny silvery color. However, the background material the water flows over is gold in color, created by oxides deposited by the river. Hence the name Gold-Silver River. It takes about 1.25-hours to walk to this point.

From the first to the second waterfall: At 1.7km. on the trail, just 15 minutes beyond, is a second and smaller waterfall. It's apparent how few people walk this far from the remarkable change in the pathway. Until the Gold-Silver River, the trail is worn and muddy from frequent use. But since the heavy travel ends there, a layer of vegetation covers the path. The second waterfall, though small, is striking because of the water falling on the dark green ferns. The stream is so small here you can literally step across it.

From the second to third waterfall: at 2.5km. is another small waterfall with a narrow stream that can be stepped across.

From the third waterfall to the interpretive center: the toughest part of the hike from 2.5 to 3.2km. because of the sometimes steep grade. The first third is uphill. The middle section undulates up and down. The toughest climbing has been saved for last. Good physical condition and a walking stick are essential. This last section of trail contains the hollow fiddlewood tree you can stand inside. You'll also see another small waterfall. The recreation center is at 3.5km., a trek of 2.5-3 hours from the outset.

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