This is perhaps the easiest route to reach using public transport or a taxi and is the route we took. From the trailhead, the route follows the old La Laja to Paria Road (which fades into a trail after not too long) to the pass between Morne Bleu and El Cerro del Aripo. The west ridge of Cerro del Aripo is then followed to the summit. There is no real trail and the going is pretty strenuous. The route is sporadically marked with ribbons or slashes on trees. There are several up and downs along the route.
Plan on an all day hike and if you are walking all the way from the Arima to Blanchisseause Road, get an early start.
Kim on the summit of Cerro Aripo. It was a challenging climb to get here!
There is public transportation along the Arima to Blanchisseause Road, but it is sporadic. On the way up, the best way might be to take a taxi from Arima. This will also be cheaper than renting a car. The La Laja Trace (road) itself is rough, but it can always be walked.
From Arima in north central Trinidad, drive up (this road can be hard to find if you are driving and not familiar with the town) the Arima to Blanchisseause Road to mile marker 6. (The sign pointing out the road was missing in December 2013). Turn right onto the La Laja South Trace.
The La Laja South Trace is paved, but usually in poor condition. Cars may not make it very far up the road. Follow this road up to a divide between the Arima Valley and the Guanapo Valley. We had to get dropped off here because of the poor condition of the road past this point. From the divide, continue along the main road (ignoring one steep side track descending to the right) to the trailhead which is just past the second waterfall and bridge. There are some private property sign around at the nearby houses, but the road and trail accessing Aripo are public access.
This is important: The trailhead sign is mostly deteriorated and may not be around that much longer, but the correct waterfall is the one in the photo below. The sign as it appeared in December 2013 is also in a photo below.
The little waterfall at the trailhead for El Cerro Del Aripo. There are actually two waterfalls, so make sure to find the right one in order to find the correct trail.
This is the sign at the trailhead as it appeared in December 2013. It may not be around that much longer.
From the trailhead, follow the steep road north. Stay on the main road at all times. Several side tracks lead to houses and plantations. At one major junction a road heads left very steeply, stay straight.
The road slowly fades into a trail (which itself is a very old and unused road). The trail eventually meets the crest of the main ridge and starts to drop down to Brasso Seco. Don’t drop down to Brasso Seco, but stop at the pass. This is at 655 meters elevation. The trail is easy to find to this point.
This is the easy section of the trail to saddle between Morne Bleu and Cerro Aripo. The route will become much more challenging after the saddle.
You should be able to locate a faint path of use heading up the hill to the east of the pass. From here on the route requires some serious routefinding. In order to find the return route, you may want to take some flagging tape along to mark the route. In some regions of the world, this might be considered taboo, but it is how trails are marked in Trinidad and could save yourself getting in a serious situation.
The trail more or less follows the ridge east to the summit, though it will take at least a few hours before you reach the summmit. There is plenty of routefinding through the jungle. There are supposedly seven different summits to pass along the way, but some are indistinct. There are at least three or four pretty good up and downs though. Peaks two and seven have the longest and steepest climbs. On top of Peak 2 is what is known as a nurse log and has several trees growing out of it.
The upper reaches of the ridge are usually shrouded in clouds and mist, so make sure you stay on the main ridge, especially on the return trip.
There are some really steep and slippery sections along the way. The summit of Aripo is a clearing. If you search you can find a small concrete monument.
It must be noted that at least one group believes the true summit is actually on the ridge to the south.
See the link below:
Use extreme caution on the way back in order not to get lost.
This is a very long all day hike if you are walking all the way from the Arima to Blanchisseause Road. If you drive to the actual trailhead, it is a shorter climb, but still plan on most of a day.
Kim navigating through the jungle on the west ridge of Cerro Aripo.
Make sure to have a good map and a compass and a way to mark your return route.