Level of Difficulty, from 1 to 5: 5
Mt. Gimie stands at 3,117 ft. above sea level as the tallest peak in all of St. Lucia. The trail cuts clear through the central rainforest, starting just inland from Fond St. Jacques. There is a wide variety of tropical vegetation and if lucky you may hear and see the St. Lucia parrot. On a clear day one may see all of St. Lucia but on most days there is too much fog to see even a mile away.
Few take this hike, and it is well off the beaten path. There is neither a fee to hike nor maps available. A guide is necessary (often PCVs know local guides but you can otherwise contact the forestry department, which services the nearby Edmund Forest and Enbas Saut trails). Around Mt. Gimie there are Rasta communities living sustainably and completely removed from the rest of Soufriere. Their farms are clearly visible 2,000 ft. above sea level, but away from the main trail.
The trail starts at the end of the road coming from Fond St. Jacques. It is a good 2-3 hour hike from Fond St. Jacques simply to Gimie’s trailhead, during which you’ll cross three rivers. The hike up and down takes about 2 hours each way. The trail leads you through the rainforest, so expect for a fair bit of rainfall. The descent can be difficult because the path becomes very muddy. The hike is of moderate incline throughout but is strenuous simply because it is long (~10 hours round trip). Pack a few sandwiches and plenty of water. There are several natural water taps on the trail to Gimie but none on the ascent (i.e. bamboo pipes from clean spring water).
Peace Corps Procedure:
-ALWAYS travel with at least one partner, preferably two.
-Call your APCD to inform them of your hike, and again upon
returning safely to the bottom.
Jennifer Leshnower, EC77
The hike was grueling for this unseasoned athlete. I don't even think stretch ing first would have helped. As painful the experience was for me, it's a bonding experience and well worth the bragging rights post-hike. It's a "first time's the charm" hike - meaning, that I won't need to do it again. I would recommend the hike, but hope for a clear day. Our summit was foggy and rainy, but unforgettable nonetheless.
Ben Wiechman, EC77
As one faces a long walk (~3 hours) just to reach the base of Mt. Gimie, the trek is traveled by few and secluded off the beaten path. It therefore provides hikers with a peaceful yet invigorating feeling as you explore the forest, cross over rivers, and ascend to the top of the highest mountain on St. Lucia, only to find that it’s completely foggy when you get to the top. But, in the end, you don’t really mind at all.