APRIL 2018 UPDATE: It's been a few years since Katie personally hiked Gros Piton, but we've recently been in touch with the Gros Piton Trail Office in St. Lucia to answer reader questions and ensure that this post is up to date. Here is Katie's experience with updated pricing and tour information.
Do you love a challenge?
Gros Piton is a lush, steep mountain rising 2,619 feet above sea level on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. I hiked Gros Piton and enjoyed a challenging but rewarding climb.
Gros Piton is a Unesco World Heritage site, and as such hikers must register at the base of the mountain, pay the fee, and hike with a guide. Guides are waiting at the base and reservations are not required.
Our guide, Larry, was a native St. Lucian who grew up in Fond Gens Libre, the village at the base of the mountain. He hikes Gros Piton nearly every day, and the day we hiked, he chose to hike in his soccer cleats. He treated it like a morning stroll, but for the rest of us, it was a challenging climb. We enjoyed having Larry along to guide just the four of us, and he answered all our questions about St. Lucia and gave us an interesting history lesson on the battle for freedom fought among the French, British, and natives in St. Lucia.
All the information we read recommended we start the climb early, but our desire to sleep in won out and we started our climb around 9:30 a.m. Larry recommended we bring 1.5 liters of water per person (you can buy bottled water at the start of the hike), and we could have drunk that much and more.
The hike takes you up 2000 feet in roughly two hours. There are four designated stopping points along the way with benches to rest, although some hikers stop more often. The trail is improved, with handrails and many steps built into the mountain, but we were still climbing over small boulders and taking steep steps on the path.
The first quarter of the hike is sunny and very warm. The last three quarters we were mostly in the trees, which made it a bit cooler, but St. Lucia is humid and we were dripping sweat by the time we reached the top. I wish I had brought a small washcloth or handkerchief to wipe my face as we climbed.
We made it to the top in one hour 40 minutes. At the top there are two viewpoints; the first viewpoint gives you a great view of St. Lucia looking inland at the mountains, but if you walk ten more minutes across the top of the mountain you will be rewarded with eye-level views of Petit Piton and the ocean, which is a more stunning view than the first. Many hikers are tired and skip this second view, but we were so glad we didn't miss it. We stayed up top for about 45 minutes enjoying the views, taking pictures, and resting before heading down.
The hike down was definitely easier, but our calves and legs burned from the steepness of the descent. Our guide said he had taken children as young as five before, but I think little legs would struggle. I wouldn’t take my children under age eight. This hike is not a dangerous one, just one you want to be in fairly good physical shape for. The feeling of accomplishment for summiting Gros Piton is a vacation memory worth making.
Good to Know
Where: Near the village of Fond Gens Libre. The turn off is hard to miss. There is a sign for the Tet Paul Nature trail (not where you are going) and a smaller one that says Fond Gens Libre/Gros Piton Hike. The GPS coordinates are about 13.819474,-61.044518
When: Start early if possible. Tours are available from 7 AM to 2 PM each day.
How much: $50 USD per person, updated April 2018. You can pay by cash or card, plus a cash tip for your guide. Visa and Mastercard are accepted.
How long: At least 4 hours round trip
Amenities: Restrooms, bottled water and snacks for purchase at base of hike.
Thanks for the tips and comments on the gros piton hike. I plan on doing the a gros piton wedding photoshoot with my future husband as seen here – http://www.grospiton.com/1/post/2013/12/making-history-with-a-gros-piton-wedding-photo-shoot.html#.UqY3pJGUs8M
Miata, a Gros Piton wedding photo shoot would be amazing! Thanks for the interesting link.
Were you staying on the island or were you there on a cruise? We are going on a cruise in April and we are interested in Hiking Gros Pitn. We are concerned that with travel time from the port we might not have enough time. We have 8 hrs in the port.
I was staying on the island, but I feel confident you could do this if you have an 8-hour window. Plan for the drive from Castries to Gros Piton to take about 1 hr 20 min and you should plan on four hours to hike up and back. Doesn’t give you a ton of extra time, but enough that you can do it. There are two viewing points at the top and we spent almost an hour at the top of Gros Piton. You could shorten your time there if you felt like you were in a hurry. Good luck!
Il 21 settembre 2014 ho fatto la mia “scalata” al gros piton, accompagnato da mia moglie e dalla guida, Larry, un ragazzo di 19 anni molto in gamba e professionale.
Parlo di scalata perché a mio avviso non è stata una passeggiata( pratico climbing e sport d’alta montagna) ma per chi non è pratico abbastanza impegnativa. L’ascesa è stata di 550 metri in 5km circa.
siamo partito dal campo base quota 250 metri ed arrivati in vetta 809 metri, in 1h e 40 minuti , mentre la discesa fatta sempre sullo stesso itinerario si è svolta in 1h circa.
Il costo della guida è di 30US$ a testa.
Noi ci siamo fatti prelevate da un autista dal st. James Morgan Bay e ci ha riaccompagnati alla fine dell’escursione. Costo totale compreso della guida 230US$ X due persone.
È stata una bella esperienza anche se appena partiti ha iniziato a diluviare e non ha smesso fino a che abbiamo terminato la discesa.
Il tutto lo abbiamo prenotato via mail sul sito realstluciatours.com
This is an awesome post! Thank you so much for all of the details. We are planning a family trip and can’t wait to hike St. Lucia!
Thank you! I hope you have a wonderful trip. If you find that anything has changed, I hope you’ll let me know when you return.
JamesDixon - London, UK
Just come back from St Lucia and my family and I completed the Gros Piton hike.
Fantastic views and well worth it. Leave four hours minimum for a round trip including some time at the summit. Challenging at times, but very doable for a reasonably fit family….. but perhaps not for under 10s due to the scrambling in the last half mile.
Finally, note that from Jan 1st, 2018 the charge is now $50 per person payable card or cash. Much, much cheaper for St Lucians though!
Thanks for the update! So glad to hear about your experience.
Great tips! We are going in June and will rent a car and drive there from Soufriere, hoping it’s not too hard to find as I’ve ordered a map to study ahead of time. Sounds like you can just show up, no prior reservation needed? Tours are so expensive but we know you need a guide. How much was the entry fee plus guide if you don’t mind me asking? Thanks!
Hi Angela! It’s been a while since this post was written, so I’m trying to find a current contact in St. Lucia who can help. I’ll let you know if anything has changed when I find out about it. I understand from a previous comment that the price is now $50US.
Is parking free? And if you go without a guide, is it free to enter the mountain area?
Hi Dawn! I finally have answer to your question. Parking is free at Gros Piton. You must hike with a guide, who will be included with your admission fee.
What company did you go through? Can you post the website?
Hi! Katie did not book through a tour company. If you just show up at the Gros Piton trail head during its open hours, you’ll be assigned a professional guide. I have confirmed this recently with the Gros Piton tourism board.
Hi Angela! I have new information from the Gros Piton Trail Office. Yes, you can just show up with no reservation. The entry fee is currently US$50 per person. Hope it’s a great trip!
How can i get in touch with Larry to request him as a guide?
Hi Nicole. I don’t have that information now, but am trying to find a current contact in St. Lucia who can. I’ll let you know if I find out more. Thanks!
Hi Nicole! I have new information from the Gros Piton Trail Office. There is not a way to request Larry, but a good guide should be available anytime you arrive at Gros Piton.
Many years ago I watched a program on public television about hiking the Gros Piton of St. Lucia. I live in a mountains state and enjoy hiking and backpacking. After watching it I said to myself “I can do that and I’m going to someday“.
As we planned a cruise with some friends I pushed my own agenda. I was instrumental in picking where in the Caribbean and which itinerary to follow. To my dismay I found that our third-party booking agency as well as the Royal Caribbean International did not have any hiking tours to the Pitons. Because the boat doesn’t arrive till 9 AM and leaves at 6 PM they knew it was too risky to make such an adventure available. We then turned to the Internet to see if we could organize a private tour. The only company we found that would work with people on a cruise vacation is realstluciatours.com. Owner is Janus Gyan. Tour fees were less than all others and included the fees at the park itself.
We were very happy with our arrangements with this company. Our driver was excellent and spent many dedicated hours to us that day. He spoke highly of the company and the owners philosophy for doing business and sharing the proceeds with those in need. Our guide that took us up the mountain was also excellent. His name is Akim. I don’t think it matters which of the 50 guides takes you up the mountain. Either male or female they are all extremely friendly and hike like mountain goats. I could not be happier that I met my goal to hike to the summit of the Gros Piton which has been a goal of mine for many years.
Considering our vacation situation on a cruise boat as opposed to staying in a hotel this tour company was the only one that made it possible to do and I would recommend them to anyone regardless of the type of vacation plan that gets you to St. Lucia.
Correction on the tour company website:
Hi Bill – Thanks for your informative post! We’ve booked this tour for next Tuesday. We often hike mountains with hiking poles, but not sure if they are needed or useful for this hike. What are your thoughts?
Thanks so much for sharing your experience! Timing is always so tricky with cruise excursions. I appreciate your sharing your recommendation, and I’m so glad that you had a great experience on Gros Piton!
Thank you Allison and Bill!! We are actually staying at one of Janus’s rentals and I agree with Bill, he’s very helpful. I appreciate all the information provided and will be sure to let you all know how it was when we return!👍