OverviewTowering nearly 3,000 feet above sea level, the majestic peak of Gros Piton, along with its twin peak Petit Piton, dominates the western coast of the country of St Lucia. The lush green slopes of these pyramid shaped icons rise abruptly from the sapphire blue waters of the Caribbean, filling the adventurous traveler with wanderlust. Only Gros Piton (2,619 feet), the taller of the two volcanic mountains, is sanctioned by the government as a legal climb.
The climb, which is 4 miles roundtrip, can easily be done by anyone in good physical condition. Allow anywhere from three to six hours to complete the entire route.
The 2 mile climb to the summit gains approximately 1900 feet of elevation.
Getting ThereSt Lucia is a Caribbean island between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago, and south of Dominica.
There are 2 airports on the island: Hewanorra International Airport at Vieux Fort is located 40 miles south of Castries. George Charles Inter Island Airport is just outside Castries.
Situated at the foot of Gros Piton is the community of Fond Gens Libre, whose name means “valley of the free people.” This small, old settlement dates back to the 1700’s, and during the slave rebellion of 1748, Brigands, or black freedom fighters, used the Gros Piton area as a secure haven, and many of their descendents still live in the town and serve as hiking guides. It is here that you access the trailhead, pay your fees, and hire a guide.
Fond Gens Libre can be accessed off the main highway along St Lucia's western coast, between the cities of Soufriere and Choiseul. Look for the Gros Piton signs near the village of Etang.
Red TapeA permit is required, as is a guide. Both of which are obtained at the Interpretive Center at the base of the mountain in Fond Gens Libre. The fees are $25.00 USD per person.
When To ClimbGros Piton can be climbed all year long, but the dry season is probably preferable.
The island has a moist tropical climate with a rainfall of 2,000-2,500mm. It is dry between January and April, wet in November and December and the temperature is constant at 26.7°C.
CampingCamping is not permitted in the Gros Piton area, the closest camping is in the town of Canaries, a few miles north of Gros Piton.
Camping is now possible on St. Lucia thanks to the St. Lucia National Trust (tel. 758/452-5005). A reserve with 12 campsites along a beautiful stretch of beach on Anse Liberté, in the fishing town of Canaries, 40km (25 miles) southwest of Castries and 13km (8 miles) north of Soufrière. At present you must bring your own tent, paying US$15 per night to rent the site. There are nearby community bathrooms and community cooking areas.