OverviewThis traverse of Mount Saint Catherine goes over the summit of the mountain Paraclete on the east side of Grenada and descends the east side all the way to near the west coast at Victoria. It is not an easy route.
We got talked into a guide for this one since we heard horror stories about the condition of the route. This time it did live up to the hype, at least since we descended the Victoria side. At this time, the trails are not in good condition. Unlike the trails around Qua Qua, it seems that this one was never reconstructed or maintained after the hurricane. The trail is easy enough to find from the radio towers east of the peak, but it's still very steep, muddy, washed out, has bushwhacking, and is currently not in good condition. The razor grass stings like hell if you have any skin exposed as well. Long pants are a must and I really wish we had brought long sleeved shirts. Although there is said to be an alternate route from the Mount Horne Road, we saw no sign of the trail coming up from the Mount Horne Road.
A guide isn’t needed for an experienced hiker to climb St Catherine from the radio towers, but it isn’t an easy hike. On top of St Catherine, is an old derelict and crumbling radio tower (formerly serviced by helicopter, but now unusable), which is somewhat of an eyesore.
The Victoria side of the mountain was challenging as well. There are several landslides that have to be bypassed on alternate routes. This time the guide did earn his money since the route would be difficult to find without one. Even with him, we got lost a time or two and had to search around for it. There is always lots of mud as well. I wouldn’t recommend doing this route without a guide. Going up this route would also be hard to find. Using public transportation, it took us all day and it was almost dark when we finished the hike.
The Traverse of Mount Saint Catherine was pretty, but to be honest I was a slightly disappointed with it. Although it is the highest mountain on the island, I thought the Mount Qua Qua to Concorde Falls was a more scenic hike and it wasn't as difficult either. We also didn't pass any waterfalls on this route.
If your time is limited on Grenada, I’d suggest the route from Mount Qua Qua to Concorde Falls as the best hike on the island.
Getting ThereSince you are making a traverse and ending up on a different side of the island, using public transportation is best. Get an early start as well.
From the bus terminal in Saint Georges, take Bus 6 (as of April 2016) to Grenville. This takes an hour or so. From Grenville, take another bus to Paraclete. You can walk from here, but you can also pay the bus driver a few more dollars to take you to Blaize and part way up the concrete road to the Cable and Wireless Station. The road to the Cable and Wireless Station is concrete, but it's steep enough that a bus won't make it and only a 4WD or AWD will.
You will most likely be descending this route, but several buses a day go to Victoria from the Terminal in Saint Georges. Some of them go farther to the Diamond Estate and the Tufton Hall Estate. You can often find a ride along the road to and from the trailhead. If no ride is available, it can be walked.
Route DescriptionMake sure to get a very early start for this hike. It will take all day and you wouldn't want to get caught in the dark on this route!
From Paraclete, either walk or get a ride up the road towards the cable and wireless station. Usually you can get a bus to take you to Blaize and a little beyond. Although there is a concrete road in this section, it is sledom used and it is a pleasant walk through rainforest and farmer's fields.
One you at the communication tower, the real work begins! If you aren't into a serious jungle mud walk and bushwhack, the walk to here provides some great views without continuing to the summit of Mount Saint Catherine.
Once you are at the communications tower, locate the trail on south side of the tower area (left when facing Mount Saint Catherine). This trail drops rather steeply in places and there is lots of razor grass, which is very painful if you didn't bring a long sleeved shirt!
The trail has several steep and muddy ups and downs along the way. In a few places, a cable aids in descent and ascent. There is some bushwhacking as well. The steepest part of the route is right near the summit.
It's a much longer and more arduous than it looks from afar, but if everything goes well, you should find yourself on the summit. Any experienced jungle mountaineer should be able to make it to this point without a guide. Take a big breather here. Unfortunately, the summit is marred by an old derelict communications tower that is no longer in use and very rusty.
The route down the mountain isn't any easier and it is longer, distance wise. From the summit, locate the very slippery trail to the northeast. Victoria should be seen in the background.
Once on the trail, just follow it down the mountain. Unfortunately, much of the old route has been obliterated by landslides, so as of April 2016, a guide is very useful. Even then, plan on doing some backtracking if you reach a landslide. The trail is extremely slippery in places as well. Keep an eye out for monkeys and the lower slopes of the mountain as we saw several.
Eventually you will find yourself in farmers fields. The hardest part is now over. It is still quite a distance on the trail through, so take a quick break and continue on the trail through the fields.
Eventually you will find yourself at a road. Follow the roads, always downhill towards the Diamond Estate. Hopefully a bus or ride will take you part of the way. Expect to spend all day on this route.
Essential GearA machete is very useful. Long pants are a must. I'd highly recommend taking a long sleeved shirt as well. Also, take a good map if you are doing this hike without a guide. It might be a good idea to throw a headlamp into your pack just in case as well.
Prepared to be completely covered in mud if doing this hike. If you are riding a bus, take an extra pair of clothes in your pack. Also, take a pair of boots or shoes that you wouldn't mind being wet the entire time.
A walking stick or pole is a must as well.
When to ClimbThis route should only be done in the dry season. Even in the dry season, it rains frequently and the trail is always muddy and wet.
There are no real dry seasons in this region, but some seasons are certainly wetter still than others. Needless to say, this region is very wet and heavy rains are possible at any time.
On average, February, March and April are the driest months, followed by December and January. June through November are wetter, although the difference from the dry season is not always dramatic. From about mid-December through early May is the best time to climb, but even in the driest seasons, it rains almost every day up high.
Weather averages for the Camp Jacob (Guadeloupe) at an elevation of 1750 feet/533 meters are below. Information is from the book World Weather Guide, page 323. Although Camp Jacob is on Guadeloupe, weather conditions at Camp Jacob are more representative of the mountains on Grenada than the weather stations near the coast.
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