Trail of the Ponds
|A group of "etangs," or fresh water ponds.
Time: 2 hours each way. Difficulty Level: 3. This trail is marked. Warning: fog and night come on quickly in the forest. Trailhead: Depart from the Grand Etang parking area on Carbet Falls Road. Arrive at Moscou, altitude 700m, 5km northeast of Gourbeyre.
When hiking the Soufriere range you'll see several bodies of water in the southeast which maps designate as "etangs," fresh water pools or ponds comparable to a mountain lake. They form when depressions in the ground are enclosed by volcanic gullies that retain water.
This is how a former volcanic flow came to rest on Morne Boudoute to create the 748-meter Etang As de Pique (Ace of Spades Pool). Its overflow runs to the east and feeds, 350 meters below, Grand Etang (described elsewhere).
Two other nearby ponds, Roche and Madere, are wedged between the southern flank of Morne Boudoute and the Madeleine range. Often dry, they may look like vast grassy expanses, a rare sight in a dense forest.
Another small pond, Etang Zombi, at 410m, is several hundred meters northeast of Grand Etang. Fed by the waters of the Tonnelle Ravine, it is bordered by a network of raised roots that makes the approach difficult.
Starting from the trail head at Grand Etang, in about 10 minutes abandon the Grand Etang circle and go right on a trail that climbs fairly steadily, then makes switchbacks to a blazed fork where you have 2 possibilities.
To the right, the main trail leads to Ace of Spades and Moscou. To the left are the pools of Madere and Roche. It should take 15 minutes to see Roche and Madere, a little longer for Moscou.