Col de l'Echelle Hike
The Ladder Hill Trail
Time: 2 hours. Difficulty: 3. The Col de l'Echelle trail is not blazed. This hike will acquaint you with the vegetation of high-altitude savannahs and provides beautiful panoramic views. Trailhead: Depart and return to Savane a Mulets.
After about 15 minutes of walking you'll see the branch trail to ascend l'Echelle from the south. Here you first climb the Matylis Ravine to hike past the fumeroles of Morne Mitan. The electric line on the left feeds part of the geophysical system that monitors the volcano.
Numerous switchbacks get you to the summit of l'Echelle in 30 to 40 minutes. During the climb, you'll have a good look at la Citerne (Cistern) volcano with its circular crater partially filled with water.
The low altitude vegetation here is often filled with blooms in October and November: fuchsias with garnet "bells," the yellow flowers of mountain daisies, gracious and delicate orchids with their sweet perfume, mountain pineapples with their red or yellow flowers, and the lycopods which resemble tiny Christmas trees.
At 1,397m, in front of you and quite near, is La Soufriere. Notice the different "mouths" of explosion from 1976.
Now it's time to begin the delicate descent, toward l'Echelle, in a northwesterly direction. The trail passes beside a large rock, the "Devil's Footstool," and arrives at the hill of Morne Mitan there is an electrical post.
Bear right toward the north, in the direction of the geophysical shelter you can see below. The flanks of l'Echelle and Morne Mitan are covered with peat mosses of different colors, scattered with flowers, and stones projected by La Soufriere.
At Col de l'Echelle, turn left between the fractured rock and the fumarole, then follow the blue trail into the mass of debris above the Ravine Matylis. You'll soon arrive at a road. Turn to the right. Savane a Mulets is about 400 meters away.
From l'Echelle, you can also make the circuit of the volcano in a reverse direction.