Barre de L’isle / Morne La Combe
Central Forest Reserve, St Lucia
The Barre de L’isle Trail, which means “island ridge”, is an extraordinary way to acquaint yourself with the interior rainforests of St. Lucia. This out and back trail ends with a steep climb up 1,446 ft (438m) Mount La Combe, where from the lofty summit of the mountain you are privy to panoramic views of the Roseau and Mabouya valleys. The signposted trailhead strikes into the Central Forest Reserve directly from the central Castries-Dennery highway, it will be on the right side of the road as you drive towards the town of Dennery. Across the road from the trailhead you will see a small building where a ranger will collect a required hiking fee of EC$25($9.25 USD) per person, they also have beverages available for purchase. After paying your fee, which helps to maintain and protect the trails, you are ready to begin your hike. Upon entering the forest you will be amazed by the lush green foliage and the thick jungle canopy. The trail is crowded by huge elephant ferns and other tropical flora in every shade of green possible. Along the way you will be pleased with the many signs that identify the different species of trees, and with the strategically placed steps that help make the steeper sections easier to tackle. The trail itself, which is about two miles roundtrip, now leads directly to the summit of Morne La Combe. We had read in guidebooks that the Barre de L’isle trail and the trail to the summit of the mountain were separate hikes, but as far as we could tell they are now one in the same. As we made our way up the mountain we stopped to admire the tropical flora and fauna, in particular we enjoyed the Julia butterflies, the purple-throated Caribs, and an odd placed land crab. We noticed the crab when we stopped to rest along the trail. I heard a rustling in the leaves off to my right, and my first thought was that it might be a snake, but to my surprise it was a huge land crab with his claws outstretched—apparently he was just as surprised to see me. Closer to the summit of Morne La Combe we were excited to hear the squawks of the rare and endangered St. Lucian parrot. Unfortunately, we never caught a glimpse of the colorful bird, but we were still happy to have at least heard one. It took us an hour and twenty minutes to reach the summit, where we enjoyed the expansive views of the valley. After a brief rest at the top, we retraced our footsteps back down the mountain, arriving at the car in forty minutes, for a roundtrip hiking time of two hours. The Barre de L’isle trail is an easy and accessible way to enjoy some of St. Lucia’s incredible and unsurpassed beauty.