Lifesaving Tunnel Along Martinique’s Grand-Rivière to Le Prêcheur Hiking Trail

Lifesaving Tunnel Along Martinique’s Grand-Rivière to Le Prêcheur Hiking Trail

The middle of the Grand-Rivière to Le Prêcheur Hiking Trail is the last place you might expect to find any kind of man-made anything in Martinique. This is the island’s most grueling and rewarding trail. The trek covers 10 miles, much of it uphill. Over the course of the five+ hours generally required to complete the one-way trek, expect to climb a cumulative total of 3,000 feet spread over four steep and densely-forested peaks. Indeed, this hike is no joke!

Still, I found myself chuckling a bit when I took it on in March of 2019. The reason: the curious tunnel pictured above.

I was three hours into my Grand-Rivière to Le Prêcheur hike… and struggling badly. Carnival festivities the night before in Fort-de-France, plus J’ouvert tramping at dawn had me much the more worse for wear. At this point I had already (barely) tackled two of the four steep peaks. This third one, though, felt like it would do me in.

It wasn’t so much the height (elevation: about 330 feet) of the third peak that almost killed me. It was the steep, STEEP incline. 

The trail seemed to run straight up from Trois-Bras River. My entire body strained with each step; my legs shaking, cramping, screaming for relief.

(Note: The Trois-Bras River is a prime spot for canyoning and chasing waterfalls in Martinique.)

Salvation came in the form of this tunnel. Strategically carved through the mountain, it made a nice passageway to the decent. The extra bit of climbing I avoided was a lifesaver, making it a bit easier to complete the hike.

The tunnel dates back to the French colonial days in Martinique. Back then, the hiking trail of today was a road linking the villages and plantations of Grand-Rivière with those in Le Prêcheur. As such, the tunnel is wide enough for a carriage to have passed through back in the day.

The old colonial road between Grand-Rivière and Le Prêcheur also linked Martinique’s west coast with its Atlantic side via the island’s wild and unforgiving most northerly highlands.

Today, no such road exists here; just the trail, the same untamed natural wonders, and the most remote man-made tunnel anywhere in the Caribbean.


Uncommon Caribbean
is Steve and Patrick Bennett, two brothers from St. Croix changing the way people think about travels to the Caribbean by putting authentic aspects of island life and the region's unique cultural heritage in the spotlight ahead of the glitzy, one-size fits all tourist trap image popularized over the years. More about us

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