Hiking St Maarten St Martin
Both sporty and culturaly, Hiking St Maarten St Martin is a way of discovering the most unexpected sites of Saint-Martin / Sint Maarten. The paths used by today´s hikers have first been, in former times, the main means of communication to go from a village to another, or from a home to a harvest, grazing or fishing location. They had a logical purpose, which has now run into oblivion. Their present interest is to offer access to an incredible variety of landscapes.
Discovering the forest clutching to the hill crests in the center of the island, the ravines and valleys sloping down, the rocky shorelines, the vestiges of the past encountered around a trail bend, the close-by islets, is a step by step reassembling of a giant geographical and patrimonial puzzle. The hiking distances are never very long but, depending on the season, vegetation may block a trail at any moment, or the sun, temperature or rain may render very hard a hike that, in other climates, might be a routine warm-up for a good hiker. Before starting, it is always better to seek information on the state of trails from local hikers, have powerful sun protection (sunblock, glasses, hat…), and a first-aid kit. Also, thorny bushes and occasional wasps are good reasons to keep arms and legs covered on wooded trails.
1. Northeast Crests (4,5 km. 410 m.)
This path follows a wooded ravine, leaving from Pic Paradis toward Orient Bay. Shortly before crossing RN7, it leads through the abandoned hamlet of Petit-Fond, where some ruins and a few graves lay.
2. Central Crests (6,5 km. 155 m.)
Starting at the antennas at Paradise Peak, and leading to the Concordia Pass and Mount St Peter´s, this classic path hugs the crest line, alternating between savanna brush and underwood. After rainy periods, overgrowth may at times make it hard to see. From the level of a Creole garden, track # 11 allows a descent toward the village of Colombier, as the crest line path goes on alongside the old stone wall materializing the border, to reach the Concordia pass, then Mount of Accords, and finally the antennas at Mount St Peter´s.
3. Southwest Crests (4,5 km. 315 m.)
Only for experienced hikers, this path is an extension of the central crest line one, which prolongs towards Sentry Hill, with a few hazardous sports. The rest is easier, slopes down to Cay Bay beach to end at Fort Amsterdam after following the shoreline.
4. Williams Crests (4,5 km. 290 m.)
This path diverges from the crests to reach Reward Pass, then goes on alongside a stone wall to reach a concrete path leading to Mary´s Fancy plantation.
5. Careta Gully (3,5 km. 410 m.)
From the hairpin curve on Paradise Peak road, go down to a well before joining a large path leading to the Hope reservoir.
6. Hope Gully (2,5 km. 315 m.)
Same departure point as # 1. This less than obvious trail, following the bottom of the ravine as much as possible, requires quite a bit of guessing. If the bottom is not usable, climb up on the left to a dirt road. This path goes through the archaeological site of Hope Estate. The road to the site then leads to the reservoir.
7. Eden Well (3,5 km. 215 m.)
Leaving from the west antenna at Paradise Peak, go down a ravine on the North slope to the ruins of the Paradise sugar plantation, the island´s highest point, and a well with two large cast iron boilers, before going up to the crest line path, not far from the departure point.
8. Lottery Gully (3 km. 335 m.)
Connected to # 9, this historical path used to be, in ancient times, the shortest way from Marigot to French Quarter.
9. Moho Gully (2,5 km. 360 m.)
From the crest line, this path takes you to French Quarter in 35 minutes, passing the Moho spring and an Arawak petroglyph: a carved rock.
10. Grand-Fond (3 km. 320 m.)
From the crest line next to the tower, a track leads down to French Quarter. A path then branches out to the top of Mount Flagstaff.
11. Colombier / beginning (2,5 km. 205 m.)
Leaving from the village edge, by a telephone booth, on a path leading to homes, then following Creole gardens to lead to the crest line path. Beautiful overviews of the valley.
12. Colombier / end (2 km. 225 m.)
Short, but fairly hard to follow, this path leaves from the back end of the village, follows the ravine bottom to a well, along garden walls, to climb up to the crest line path.
13. Rambaud – Friar´s Bay (1,6 km. 90 m.)
Short and easy, this path goes down a valley. Villagers used to follow it to reach Guichard Pond and Friar´s Bay beach.
14. Petites Cayes (3,5 km. 100 m.)
Follow the dirt road along the right side of the Marina. At the end, a narrow path climbs right up a hill offering a beautiful view of a small pond, and, on the other side, of Little Cay beach, which is reached through a fairly steep slope. A shore path then leads to Great Cay, then Cul-de-Sac.
15. Gevene Bay (2,5 km. 60 m.)
At the southern end of Guana Bay beach, follow an unmarked but obvious coastal path. At the foot of the Back Bay rocks, the beautiful natural pools require a stop before proceeding to Point Blanche.
16. Tintamarre (3,5 km. 30 m.)
A wild, unmarked trail which covers the Atlantic coast of the island, passing by a former plane landing strip to lead to the beautiful calcareous cliffs at La Fourche. A splendid decor, with St Bart´s, St Martin, Anguilla, and Saba as background.
17. Pointe Arago (2,5 km. 60 m.)
Circling the Marigot business harbor, the path then follows the shore, passing by the volcanic rocks at Pointe Arago and the small, discrete Lovers´ beach to end up at the road to Friar´s Bay beach. Beyond that, one can reach, in 10 minutes, the secluded and beautiful Happy Bay.
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