The Tet Paul Nature trail is a short hike in southern St. Lucia just minutes from Soufriere. It’s a loop that could easily be completed in 45 minutes or less, though the rewards for those who take their time are many.
When it comes to hiking, I love a challenge. A multi-day trek up the tallest mountain east of the Rockies? Sign me up! Hiking through boiling hot sulfur springs? I can’t wait! Hiking through a snake infested mountainside in rural Cuba? I’ll have to tell you that story another time…
Anyway, being an adventurous sort, I was skeptical of the Tet Paul trail. Just 45 minutes? An easy hike? Frankly, it sounded a little too… I dunno… boring.
(Boy was I wrong…)
Right out of the parking lot, visitors begin their short walk in a working organic farm. It was pleasant, to be sure. My chat with the folks there was a good test of my knowledge (or lack thereof) of Caribbean flora and the many, many medicinal uses for practically everything that bursts from St. Lucia’s fertile soil. While I should have lingered, I was a bit antsy to get on with the physical side of the hike.
From the farm, I walked up a small path and was greeted with a preview of what was to come: a picture perfect view of Mount Gimme — standing proudly at over 3,000 feet, its peak is the tallest point on St. Lucia. Immediately, my mind started planning expeditions to its summit. Would it be a difficult hike? How long would it take?
(More misguided distractions…)
A little further on, the path sloped down toward a lookout platform.
Here, the lush green expanse of St. Lucia stretched out below me before giving way to the sparkling Caribbean Sea. Birds soared on thermals just out of reach. I could see the airport in the distance. The sun was bathing everything in its glowing embrace and… Wait… Was that St. Vincent on the horizon?
OK, this was pretty magical… but could I really enjoy the vista if I didn’t have to nearly kill myself scrambling up near-vertical, barely-there paths and brave hungry serpents to experience it?
(When will I learn?)
Anyway, I did linger a bit longer at the lookout before deciding to move on. Back on the path, it began to rise again. In short order, I came to a sign: Stairway to Heaven. Yes, my skepticism had been thawing, but this was going too far. “Stairway to Heaven?” Really?
I snapped a photo of the sign just to have it and moved on, marching up those fabled wooden stairs. As I progressed, a slight clearing on the left came into view. It looked fairly interesting, but since there were already people partaking of that particular lookout, I continued to press on.
Almost immediately, there came a break in the trees and then… Well… See for yourself:
(I was such an idiot.)
Mount Gimme, Vieux Fort, the surrounding villages of Chousiel, Laborie, Soufriere, the neighboring islands of St. Vincent and Martinique, plus the larger-than-life Piton mountains — so much of St. Lucia and it’s surrounding waters stretched as far as I could see in a dizzying 360° panorama of greens and blues. The star of the show, of course, is the views of the Pitons: Gros Piton and Petit Piton.
The lesson here is that even though the Tet Paul Nature Trail offers up its majestic views in an easy to access package, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!
That, and don’t be like me!
Instead, stroll, linger, relax, breathe, and just be in the moment. Do this and the Tet Paul Nature Trail will grant you one of the best deals to be found anywhere on St. Lucia.
Any taxi will be able to get you here and if you decide to drive, there’s plenty of parking. Or just check out Real St. Lucia Tours.