Hiking The Pitons! A trip to St. Lucia is not complete without a relaxing day on the beach, a late-night dance party, and a hike up one of the most iconic landscapes of the island, The Pitons. If you have ever looked up pictures of St. Lucia these two mountainous volcanic plugs will surely show up and don’t forget to order an ice-cold Piton beer, named for this iconic range. Whether you’re looking for a unique and challenging experience, a fun and family-friendly hike, or some of the best views on the island you cannot miss out on the adventure only St. Lucia can offer.
The Pitons consists of two peaks, the Gros Piton, which measures 771m, and the Petit Piton, which measures 743m. This range is located near the popular destination town of Soufriere, which is also considered a world heritage site. These two peaks overlook the beautiful blue water of Jalousie Bay and are connected by the Piton Mitan ridge. These beautiful mountains got their name from the French word for peak, Pitons.
Hiking the Pitons
The Pitons are not only one of the most iconic landscapes on the island, but it is also a major attraction for hikers and climbers around the world. Though both are accessible to climb depending on your fitness levels and experience, Gros Piton is the peak most often summited. Petit Piton is a challenge though and should not be missed by those experienced climbers who visit the island. Don’t fret though, Gros Piton is accessible to most people regardless of one’s fitness levels and experience and if you’re looking for some spectacular views then look no further!
Booking an experienced guide
If this is your first visit to The Pitons, you’ll want to make sure you stop by the Interpretive Center at the bottom of Gros Piton to get everything you need! It is mandatory to take with you an experienced guide, and if you decide on hiking the Pitons, many travel companies offer all different kinds of tours depending on your wants and desires. If you haven’t booked your tour yet don’t worry! The Interpretive Center has many knowledgeable tour guides who will take you to the top and ensure that you don’t miss out on any of the spectacular views and offer descriptions of the geography, exotic vegetation, and native animals along the way.
Which of the two Pitons is the easiest to hike?
Though Gros Piton is the easier of the two to hike it is no small feat, it is a difficult and challenging hike but doesn’t require any special skills and the views from the top will be worth it once you’ve finished! The trails are well marked and well maintained though some parts may be more challenging than others. The entire hike may take you 3 to 6 hours depending on your fitness levels and how much time you’d like to spend enjoying your climb to the top. Plan your day accordingly and make sure to bring snacks and plenty of water.
Gros Piton is the second highest peak in St. Lucia and promises some of the best views on the island. Once at the top you have the chance to see the blue waters of the ocean, the village of Vieux Fort, and the coconut groves surrounding it, and if the day is clear you may even get a chance to spot the island of St. Vincent. Don’t forget your camera as these views are not to be missed.
The Most challenging of the two Pitons
Though Petit Pitons is smaller, it is much more a challenge, even for experienced climbers. So if you are up for the challenge, then you should consider hiking the Pitons but the smaller of the two. The climb is much steeper and requires special equipment and previous experience for most of it. If you’re up for an adventure and a chance to do something unique on your trip then look no further.
Petit Piton is far less maintained as there is no welcome center at the bottom and you won’t find a trailhead marker guiding your way. Unlike Gros Pitons, there is no mandatory hiking guide to climb this mountain, but if it’s your first time exploring the area then it is recommended. This climb is by far more difficult and more dangerous, as the paths are not marked as clearly as Gros Pitons, but if you’re up for the challenge you will be rewarded with some of the best views of the entire island and the Piton Bay. Are you up to the challenge of hiking the Pitons?
Photo source: St Lucia Tourist Board
The Historical facts about the Pitons
The Pitons are not only well-known for their incredible views and challenging climbs, but also for their history and the stories they tell. In 1748 there was a slave rebellion on the island and many of the rebels took to The Pitons to find safety and make a home for themselves. If you considering hiking the Piton you are likely to find the rough roads carved into the sides of the mountain by those who were running for their safety (mostly on the Gros Pitons).
You can see the difficult journey the slaves took to ensure they could live their lives in safety and in peace. In fact, many people who are direct descendants of those who chose to turn to The Pitons. They still inhabit the settlements that were formed hundreds of years ago. One settlement in particular called Fond Gens Libre can be visited while climbing. Many of the locals set up little produce stalls along the way where you can pick up some local fruit to snack on.
So, whether you’re looking to take your family out for the day, want to challenge yourself, or want to experience an incredible piece of history, The Pitons offer something for everyone. This is definitely an experience that should not be missed and one that you’ll be talking about for years to come. Will you be hiking the Pitons this summer?
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