La Soufriere Cross Country Trail
The La Soufriere Cross Country Trail winds its way from sea level up to the top of the majestic La Soufriere Volcano (4048ft/ 1178m). Granite cliffs reach for the sky, giving way to sweeping valleys and deep gorges and eventually the immense volcanic crater. The walk to the crater is moderately difficult, and takes about two hours uphill from the windward side.
The La Soufriere Cross Country Trail snakes across the width of St Vincent, and can be walked from either the leeward or windward coast. The total trail is approximately 9 miles (15 km) long and offers visitors breath-taking panoramic views of the surrounding land and seascape and close encounters with fauna.
The easiest and most popular walk is a return trip to the crater from the windward (east) side, which begins at the Rabacca trail head near Georgetown - this takes about two hours to get to the summit, and is about 4 miles (6 km) long. The walk is moderately difficult, and a guide is mandatory for visitors. Visitors should be careful at the summit, it is often covered in thick cloud which makes it cold, and the edge of the crater difficult to see. It is recommended that hikers begin in the morning, to give enough time to appreciate the views and get back down before dark.
The leeward approach is longer and more difficult and the trail is more overgrown. Keen hikers can walk the whole trail from coast to coast – about a 6 hour walk. At the summit, there is a small and difficult trail down into the crater which will add an extra two hours to the hike. Please note that the trails do not begin at towns or villages, so it is important to organise transport before you hike.
Opening hours: 7.30am – 3.30pm
Distance from Kingstown:
- Beginning of windward trail: 26 miles (42 km) – 1 hour 20 minutes drive.
- Beginning of leeward trail: 40 miles (65 km) - 2 hours drive.
Facilities: At the start of the trail on the windward side, there is a visitor’s centre, gazebos, payphone, restrooms and parking. There are no facilities or services on the trail, or on the leeward trail.
Guides: All foreign visitors not in the company of Vincentian nationals must be accompanied onto the trail by a certified tour guide. Guides can be organised through the NPA.
It is important to prepare for your hike – take enough food and water, and extra layers of clothes because it is often cold and windy at the summit. Download the site rules and site brochure.
The La Soufriere Cross Country Trail is awash with a wide diversity of plants, birdlife and other fauna. Rugged and enchanting landscapes, mild temperatures, fertile volcanic soils and abundant rainfall give rise to a profusion of growth of Coastal Scrub, Montane Forest, Palm Brake and Elfin
Woodland. Floral species of note include the abundant Spanish Ash (Inga vera), Gunstock (Freizera hursuta), Sweetwood (Lauraceae sp.), and the endemics: Begonia rotundifolia, the Melastome Tibouchina cistoides, the epiphytic Peperomia cuneata and P. vincentinum and the Giant Tree fern (Cyathea tenera).
Designated by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area in the Caribbean, the volcano’s slopes support populations of forest bird species including rare sightings of the St. Vincent Parrot (Amazona giuldingii), theWhistling warbler (Cathropeza bishop), the endemic race of House Wren (Troglodytes aedon musicaI), Rufous-throated Solitaire (Myadestes genibarbis), Purple-throated Carib (Eulampis juglaris), Broad-wing hawk (Buteo playtiptirus), and the Mountain dove (Geotrygon Montana). Reptilian species include the endemic lizards (Anolis griseus and A. vincentiana)and the endemic Red-legged Tree Frog (Eleutherodactylus shrevei. The Agouti (Dasyproctor agouti)and Oppossum (Marsupialis insularis)are among the mammals that can be seen from the trail.