Hikes of Mount Pelee
|From Grande Savane to the Second Shelter|
Time: 4.5 hours, round trip.
Difficulty: 4-5. Open sun, tricky walking over pumice. Numerous, moss-covered holes at the Caldeira.
Trailhead: On route D10, at the southern entrance to Precheur, is a sign for the well-maintained road to your departure point. Another sign indicates the entrance to the trail itself. You'll find enough parking for several vehicles.
This trail, on the driest side of Mount Pelee, is noted for beautiful lookout points. It provides an ascent to the Caldeira with less likelihood of rain.
During the first 45 minutes, the trail is mostly a wide road, suitable for an all-terrain vehicle. This is an important agricultural area, the Great Savannah. The fertile earth produces abundant tomato plants, carrots, cabbage, and onions. Trees are scarce.
During the climb, you'll discover a magnificent view of le Precheur and all the northern part of the island not obscured by Piton Marcel. After about an hour, you'll walk along a ridge overlooking two deep gorges with remarkable tree ferns.
From there, you'll a superb view over the entire Bay of Saint Pierre. Also from this point you'll encounter the high altitude vegetation of Mount Pelee.
Now comes the last part of your ascent. The slope turns steeper, and in 30 minutes you'll reach the crossroads to the second shelter beside the Caldeira. It's possible to ascend to Chinois beside the third shelter.
In terms of scenery, the Caldeira is the real attraction. During the next 30 minutes, the trail will overlook the picturesque crater of Mount Pelee, with its vegetation of moss, ferns, lycopods, and mountain pineapples.
Also note the presence of orchids and a few raspberry bushes. The second shelter appears soon, on the plateau at the foot of a rocky spur surmounted by a cross. Plan on about 1.5 hours for the return.