During our winter visit to St. Lucia, John and I took a day to hike the famous Gros Piton, the most popular hike in the country. If you’ve ever seen photos of St. Lucia, you’ll immediately recognize the Gros Piton and the nearby Petit Piton, two of St. Lucia’s most famous landmarks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well.
If you’re into hiking and visiting St. Lucia, especially during the dry season from December to May, set aside half a day to hike Gros Piton. It’s not easy, but it’s a very rewarding hike with exceptional panoramic views at the top.
Summary of the Gros Piton hike
The distance. 6.5 km or 4 miles return.
Height increase. Approximately 21,914 feet or 553 m
Required time: 3 – 4 hours for return.
Campaign hours: The trail is open daily from 7am to 2pm. Go early for cooler temperatures.
The best time to go hiking. December to May when it is usually sunnier and drier.
Difficulty level: Moderate to difficult depending on conditions (more difficult when the Gros Piton trail is wet) and your fitness level. The first half is much easier than the second half of the hike, which I would call difficult.
The height of Gros Piton. 2,619 feet (798 meters) high.
Location: Steep trail with lots of roots and rocks; sometimes big steps (see pictures below)
What to take during the hike? Sturdy hiking boots, but full hiking boots are not required, plenty of water, light, breathable clothing, raincoat and sun hat.
- Petit Piton can also be climbed, but it is much steeper, more difficult and dangerous.
- Bring cash so you can buy ice cream from a local vendor at the end of the Gros Piton hike.
- If you sweat a lot, bring a bandana.
- If you are just showing up, the cost to climb will be $50 per person. Plan to tip at the end of the hike.
Why are you hiking Gros Piton?
If you’re like me, you don’t like to sit around for long on holiday. I love visiting beaches, but I get bored quickly. The challenge of doing the Gros Piton hike and doing some serious exercise is always appealing.
Hiking Gros Piton is one of the best things to do in St. Lucia, and for good reason. Not only are the views from the top spectacular, but the hike is also interesting as it leads through a tropical rainforest filled with giant plants, many of which are unique to the island.
Need a guide to hike Grosse Piton?
A guide is a must when hiking Gros Piton. All guides are locals who have been trained and certified by the St Lucia National Trust. Some guides are more talkative than others. Don’t hesitate to pick their brains on a topic that interests you, whether it’s the history of the area, local plants, geology or birds.
You can order Gros Piton Trek with Viator or Get your guide (using local guides) ahead of time – and they’ll pick up hotels, provide water and more.
If you can get to the village of Fond Gens Libre on your own, you can find guides waiting at the foot of the mountain, so even without a reservation you should have no trouble, but you may have more peace of mind with a reservation. Bring cash (US dollars is probably best) to pay your local guide.
Our guide was the son of one of the older guides so he was very green. He was certainly aware of the trail and the history, but not so knowledgeable about the birds. Still, we loved him because he took us to a view of the summit that only a fraction of people see, and it was much more panoramic than the summit view.
At the end of our hike we were driven back by one of the impressive female guides who did it Gros Piton hike over 3000 times. I think he’s a record holder.
Description of the Gros Piton hike
At the orientation session required for the Gros Piton hike, we were informed that the hike would be divided into four sections, with a nice rest stop at the end of each. The first quarter of the hike is the easiest and the last quarter is the hardest as it is on a rougher, very steep trail. The trail loops around the mountain, climbing through dense forest with occasional views.
Climbing Gros Pito can be aerobically challenging, but it’s easier than climbing down, especially when it’s wet and muddy.
The hike begins gently for the first half hour. There is a rest stop at the quarter where you can drink water and enjoy the view. Keep an eye on the vegetation as you walk. In the lower levels you will see lots of lush tropical foliage. There are some gorgeous big trees around the three-quarter mark, just as the trail bends and breaks. Expect more rocks and stones the higher you go.
Once you reach the fruit and cold drink vendor, you are only minutes away from the summit. Keep climbing to reach an open area with great views.
Once you reach the top of Gros Piton, you can enjoy the panorama that includes Soufriere, Vie Fort and St. Vincent Island. The rainbow of colors that make up the roofs of the local fishing village can also be seen along with the Maria Islands Nature Reserve.
Side trip to the lookout
When we got to the cold drink vendor, our guide asked us if we would like to walk up to the lookout. We did not appreciate what was waiting for us.
The hike was on a trail that doesn’t see much traffic. There isn’t much height, but you have to move vines, lift leaves and scramble through rocks. At the end of the approximately 15-minute hike, look out over the Petit Piton and the Caribbean Sea. It’s a whole panorama.
Take your time on the way down from Gros Piton. The scent can be complex at times, and this is not a track you want to fall into. There are many handrails. Use them. Find your own pace. Stop often to listen and look around.
Look for parrots
Few are lucky enough to see the endemic but rare Saint Lucia parrot. It is mostly green with a cobalt blue front, and although it is large, it is hard to see in the dense foliage. After becoming endangered, the bird was declared the island’s national bird in 1979 and protected. Today their number has reached about 250 parrots.
Final thoughts on the Gros Piton hike
If you are planning to visit St. Lucia and love hiking, don’t miss the Gros Piton hike. It will be a tough hike if you are not used to steep climbs, but the reward of reaching the top and seeing the natural beauty and unique flora and fauna is more than worth it. John and I went to the top, feeling so good from the exercise and the delicious ice cream we enjoyed in the village at the end of the hike.
Where to stay near the Gros Piton hike?
John and I spent four nights there Fond Doux Eco Resort. It was not on the beach, rather in the woods, and our room was very private. We loved our cabin and the staff was great. The food was nothing but good.
If you want an upscale resort, check it out Sugar Beach – Viceroy’s resort. It is on an island with beautiful white sand beaches for good swimming and snorkeling.
Further reading on things to do in the Caribbean and Central America
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