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Blue Mountain Peak
Mountain/Rock

Blue Mountain Peak

 
Blue Mountain Peak

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Jamaica, North America

Lat/Lon: 18.06819°N / 76.65367°W

Object Title: Blue Mountain Peak

County: St. Thomas

Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering

Season: Spring, Winter

Elevation: 7402 ft / 2256 m

 

Page By: TrekAdam

Created/Edited: Jan 19, 2009 / Jan 20, 2009

Object ID: 481585

Hits: 10632 

Page Score: 83.69%  - 17 Votes 

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Overview

 
The Blue Mountains, Jamaica
The View From The Mountain
Sitting in the middle of the lush, cloud covered and densely forested Blue Mountains is Blue Mountain Peak or simply “The Peak” (as referred to by locals) at an elevation of 7,402 feet, the highest point in Jamaica. Typically hiking these mountains is done in the middle of the night so as to see the sun rise from the summit before the mists and rains engulf the peaks by late morning. The views from the top are incredible. On clear mornings after the sun burns through the clouds expect to see Kingston to your south, Port Antonio and much of the north coast as well as the whole of the Blue Mountain range. It’s been said that on clear days one can see Cuba in the distance over 130 miles away. If you’re lucky to climb the mountain on a night when its not raining or misting you’ll be able to see Kingston as well as the faint lights of many small villages from many points on the trail.

Roughguides.com states that the mountain “seems daunting, but isn't the fearful climb you might imagine – though it's hardly a casual stroll, either. It's magnificent by day and thrilling by night.

Along the main trail of the mountain, the hike to the top is roughly eight miles. Plan on spending at least six hours on the mountain or possibly more if you stop a lot to enjoy the scenery on your way back down in the daylight. “Signposts make this route up the mountain easy to follow without the aid of a guide, but in this remote area it's sensible to go with someone who knows their way. Don't stray onto any of the tempting ‘short cuts’ – it's illegal, you'll damage the sensitive environment and you'll almost certainly get lost.”

 
Dangerous Shortcuts on Blue Mountain Peak
Dangerous Shortcuts


At around 7000ft where the upper shelter is located on the plateau at Lazy Man's Peak (also know as East Peak) is where some hikers turn around and head back down. However, “it's worth struggling on for another twenty minutes, as a far more spectacular panorama awaits you at the top.”

For Blue Mountain Peak Trail information click HERE


Getting There

Hiking the trails to Blue Mountain Peak can be done from either the south side of the Island from Kingston or the north side from Port Antonio although entering the mountains from Kingston is much more common. Unless you’re staying at a hotel in Port Antonio that has information about hiking the mountain, good luck finding many (or any) locals who have made the journey or know how to get you to where you need to be. I started my Blue Mountain Peak adventure from Kingston and even still had trouble finding a cab driver who knew how to drive to Mavis Bank where many hikers begin their trek.

To get to the mountains from Kingston, Hire a JUTA taxi driver who knows his way around the mountains. You’ll head north out of the city on Old Hope Road which is paved and relatively well kept until you get to the one-way bridge in the small foothills village of Gordon Town. From here you’ll make a right and head over the bridge – this is when you’ll notice the neglect of the roads. Potholes, dips that lead to cliff ledges and old, rusted car wrecks along the side of the road are sure get your heart going as this is where the adventure truly begins – and I forgot to mention that you’ll be traveling along this one way mountain road at about 80 kilometers an hour, way too fast if you ask me. Expect the rest of the ride in the foothills to take another 30 minutes or so until you come to the town of Mavis Bank which sits in the Yallahs River Valley in the upper foothills.
 
Looking Down to Abbey Green Coffee Plantation
Looking Down On Abbey Green Coffee Plantation

From Mavis Bank, where you typically meet up with your guide, you’ll make the hour long, five mile drive up the narrow, steep, winding road through the upper foothills to the trailhead at Penlyne Castle near Abbey Green Coffee Plantation which sits at 4500 feet. “Abbey Green is a completely different world, where wind whistles through eucalyptus trees and mists billow over the mountainside only to evaporate in the sun.”* If you’re trekking the mountain alone and haven’t made plans to hire a guide and jeep be sure to ONLY attempt the road from Mavis Bank in a vehicle with four wheel drive – you won’t make it far without a Jeep or Land Rover.

“On the way up, you'll turn left through Hagley Gap – a one-street village where you can buy provisions and get a hot meal – after which you'll traverse one of the least road-like roads in Jamaica, with huge gullies carved through the clay by coursing water and a constant scree of small boulders in your path.”* Once at the trailhead, which is the beginning of a service road for trucks and jeeps in the upper reaches of the coffee plantation you’ll feel completely alone unless other hikers are coming to the area at the same time.

*Quotes from Rough Guides*

The Blue Mountains, Jamaica
The Blue Mountains, Jamaica

Lodging and Guide Services:

 
Hiking Blue Mountain Peak, Jamaica
Trekking through the night.
Mavis Bank is home to many of the lodges that offer guide services to the peak and many other smaller mountains in the area. Don’t simply show up in the middle of the night or even the middle of the day for that matter and expect to find a guide that will take you to the peak. Plan your trip and make arrangements in advance with one of the lodges in Mavis bank. Forres Park is perhaps the best option for an overnight adventure. They offer transportation in old 4X4 Land Rovers to the trailhead and guide services along with well kept rooms for you to rest in before your hike begins at 1 in the morning. However, their guides do not work directly for the lodge – they hire local peoples, many younger locals to take avid hikers to the peak. Check out the Forres Park website HERE or call them at 1-876-927-8275/5957. Natalie is the owner and she and her daughter are welcoming and eager to please their guests. They’ll always be sure to ask if you have enough water, food and warm clothing before heading out in the middle of the night. I stayed at Forres Park this year at the nightly rate for a room was $85 USD. The transportation to and from the trailhead and guide service was $70 USD per person.

If you’d like to stay even closer to the trailhead and further up the mountain there are two hiking hostels which provide comfort and warmth to hikers.
 
Truck Driver in the Blue Mountains, Jamaica
Our Jeep Driver from Forres Park

“Whitfield Hall ( 876/926-6612 or 927-0986; bunks Below $25, cabin $50-75) is the most atmospheric, set in an old stone planters' house, with a grand piano, a log fire, low ceilings and a prewar kitchen. You sleep in bunks or in a self-contained cottage. A few hundred yards down the road is the more comfortable Wildflower Lodge (876/929-5395; bunk Below $25, private rooms $25-50, cottage $50-75), a modern two-storey house set in gorgeous flowered gardens. Bedding choices include private double rooms with bathrooms as well as bunk beds and a self-contained cottage; there's also a gift shop, cavernous kitchen and dining room. Another option, on the hillside just below Wildflower, is the simple, friendly guesthouse run by local Rasta Jah B (876/977-8161; Below $25); meals are available. Whichever lodge you choose, it's a good idea to arrange to have a hot meal ready for your return. Any of these lodges will be able to provide a peak guide for around US$30.”*

*Quoted from Rough Guides.

When to Climb

Although the mountain is covered in mists and rains throughout the year its best to attempt the peak during the “dry” season in Jamaica. Typically, hikers trek the trails from late December to April. According to local guides, it’s rare to hike the mountain and not hit at least a small patch of rain or mist, especially in the night. Expect only a few hours of sun and blue skies each morning when the sun first rises even during the dry season.
 
The Cloudy Blue Mountains, Jamaica
And the Clouds Roll In...

 
Sunrise on Blue Mountain Peak, Jamaica
Sunrise from the Peak

Misc. Information

Of note – Be sure to secure a ride with a reputable taxi service or driver back to Kingston or the airport before you head into the mountains. Cell service is spotty from Mavis Bank and it’s often difficult to find a willing driver who will take you back to where you need to be for a reasonable price. Many taxi drivers in the city who work for JUTA will give you their business card and have you call them when you want to head back but be sure to check that you have service in the area before he leaves after dropping you off at a lodge.

It’s much colder at the top of the mountain so be sure to bring warm clothing. When I hiked I was layered with a North Face Denali jacket and had a hat and gloves – not what you’d think for a Caribbean Island.

You’ll definitely need a flashlight or headlamp! When I climbed the moon was full and bright but once we reached Portland gap the trail from there to the peak was through thick forest where no moon light shone through.
 
A View of Kingston from the Blue Mountain Peak Trail
Kingston and the Moon Seen from the Trail

Other than the peak itself the only other “attraction” in the area is the Jablum Coffee Factory which is the main factory that produces the ever famous Blue Mountain Coffee beans. Located in Mavis Bank, you can tour the factory or simply buy coffee. However, the coffee is expensive and security is incredibly tight in the area – they take their business seriously. Generally, hikers will visit the factory after the hike to the peak once they’re back down in Mavis Bank. To get to the factory simply head out of Mavis Bank on the road towards Kingston. Its five minutes from Forres Park lodge and the lot is usually filled with JUTA tour busses.




Camping:

Camping is allowed at Portland Gap which is 3.5 miles from the peak. Pitch a tent or rent a cabin here.

Click HERE for more information about camping in the Blue Mountains.

External Links

 
A Coffee Tree Growing on Blue Mountain Peak, Jamaica
A Coffee Tree Growing on the Mountain

Forres Park Lodging - Click HERE
JABLUM Blue Mountain Coffee - Click HERE
Whitfield Hall - Click HERE

Here is an article about the current problems Blue Mountain Coffee Farmers face - Click HERE

Images

The Blue Mountains, JamaicaThe Blue Mountains, JamaicaBlue Mountain PeakSunrise on Blue Mountain Peak, JamaicaLooking Down to Abbey Green Coffee PlantationDangerous Shortcuts on Blue Mountain PeakTruck Driver in the Blue Mountains, Jamaica
A Coffee Tree Growing on Blue Mountain Peak, JamaicaA View of Kingston from the Blue Mountain Peak TrailThe Cloudy Blue Mountains, JamaicaHiking Blue Mountain Peak, Jamaica