OverviewThis is the standard route up Morne Nicholls and Boiling Lake. This trail goes right over the top of Morne Nicholls en-route to the lake. The trail has many steps and a few short rock scrambles (once you are over Morne Nicholls) and is moderately steep, but overall it’s a well constructed trail. The only real obstacles are the rock scramble, many rock steps and a few stream crossing.
This is a very interesting hike and one of the best hikes in all the Caribbean.
Getting ThereThe first destination is the village of Laudat (rhymes with “Yoda”). From Roseau (the capital of Dominica), several busses (excluding holidays) a day leave for Laudat from the junction of Bath Road and King George V Street. If riding the bus, get off at Laudat and follow the directions below (it’s not that long of a walk to the trailhead from Laudat).
If driving (or walking from Laudat), take the first right when you get to Laudat. Follow signs to the Rainforest Arial Tram. Turn left at the junction with a statue (sign currently missing) and take another left just before the bridge not far beyond the hydroelectric plant. Follow the road/path to the end (you will have a choice of routes, but the best route is to cross the bridge at the pipe). This is the trailhead.
Route DescriptionTo the summit of Morne Nicholls
The trail is in very good condition and very well marked. Walk up the stone steps and follow the path into the forest. The climb is at a steady grade until it drops down to the breakfast river (about an hour). After crossing the Breakfast River, the trail steepens and there are some sections with handrails. The trail follows a steady grade, but never gets extremely steep, but there are thousands of log steps to climb. The views really open out in places and there are some spectacular views of Micotrin, Trois Pitons and Morne Watt (plus several un-named peaks) along the way. In some places you can smell sulfur from nearby hot springs.
It’s about 1.25 to 1.75 hours to the summit of Morne Nicholls, where you will have a really spectacular view, assuming the weather is clear. You can see the area and steam from where Boiling Lake is at, though you can’t see it. The views of Morne Watt are impressive and you get a glimpse of the Valley of Desolation as well. From here you could return the same way, but it is highly recommended that you continue on to Boiling Lake.
Continuing on to Boiling Lake
From the summit of Morne Nicholls, the trail drops quite steeply down to the valley of Desolation. There is some rock scrambling along the way, but this isn’t difficult for an experienced hiker, though heavy rain might make it challenging.
Once down into the Valley of Desolation, the trail becomes even more interesting. There are many hot and cool springs, bubbling hot pools, and even some geysers. Stay on the trail and watch your step.
The trail then more or less follows the stream down canyon. You will pass by some beautiful warm pools (great for swimming) and there are several very steep climbs, which is perhaps the most challenging part of the route. There is a bit of scrambling as well.
Eventually you will leave the stream flowing down canyon and hike up the stream draining from near Boiling Lake. Right before the lake there is one last steep climb before you walk a short distance to the edge of the lake. The lake really is Boiling and is a site to see, though you might have to wait around a bit because of all the steam. This is either the largest or second largest Boiling Lake in the world.
The route back is the reverse of the route you took to get here. It isn’t much faster going back and remember that you have to climb back over the summit of Morne Nicholls (and several other ridges) to get back to the trailhead.
The trail is 11 miles/19 kms route trip and should be considered to be an all day excursion. Enjoy one of the best hikes in all of the Caribbean.