High North Peak hike takes you to the summit of Carriacou’s highest point where spectacular views over the neighbouring islands can be enjoyed. With a little luck, you may also catch sight of land tortoises, soldier crabs, iguanas and even a macaw
Via research ahead of our Caribbean trip, I discovered that High North Peak was the highest point on Carriacou. Although a modest hill in terms of elevation, it instantly jumped to the top of our “things to do” list while on the island.
There didn’t appear to be a great deal of information about the High North Peak hike online so I queried this with our Airbnb owner. Thankfully, Allison just so happened to be the owner of Carriacou’s premier tour guide company, Isle of Reefs Tours. She told us that the route is not particularly easy to find or follow and suggested that we hire a guide.
Allison gave us the details for Antonia, a local hiking guide who came highly recommended. As a result, we made contact with her and arranged a suitable day for the hike.
Starting Point for the High North Peak Hike
Antonia suggested that the best meeting point would be the junction of Bogles and Prospect which was precisely the same starting location for the Anse La Roche hike.
Antonia had also arranged for other members to join our hiking party. These included Rina Mills from the Carriacou office of the Grenada Tourism Authority and Dario Sandrini, founder of the Kido Foundation. In addition, we were joined by Hansel and Sarah, both volunteers with the Kido Foundation.
The actual trailhead is located along the High North Nature Trail, a short distance past the Anse La Roche turn off. It was at this moment that I realised that we were wise to opt for a hiking guide.
To start with, there was no indication as to where the actual trail commenced, just a small opening in the undergrowth off to our right. In fact, the main reason why Dario and his team were joining us was to plan upgrades to the trail to make it a more user-friendly.
KIDO Foundation – 2019 Nature Conservation Award from the CTO (Caribbean Tourism Organisation)
Commends any group, organisation, tourism business or attraction working towards the protection of natural and/or marine resources
The High North Trail
The initial section of the High North Peak hike is moderately steep and takes you along a trail that is not very well defined. Moreover, for the most part you could easily think that there was no dedicated trail at all.
The track meanders through the fairly dense dry deciduous forest consisting of a variety of trees, plants and shrubs. Owing to the thickness of the vegetation, there are limited views to be had and therefore no external reference points to assist with your general sense of direction.
Within a short distance, there is a path that heads off to the left, marked by a red cable tie on an overhanging branch. To emphasise, we only knew that this was the indicator for this turn thanks to members of our hiking group.
You will head up this path for a couple of minutes and as you do the canopy that has been shielding you opens and the Caribbean sky greets you once more. You now find thick wild grass underfoot as you make your way to the first of three vantage points from where to soak up the views on offer.
Vantage Point 1
Here you get to enjoy sweeping views right down the west coast of Carriacou from the main town of Hillsborough along to Paradise Beach. Additionaly, you will clearly see the island’s second highest peak of Chapeau Carre as well as the three small islands that sit a short distance off the west coast: Jack-A-Dan, Sandy Island and Mabouya.
Once you have enjoyed the wonderful views on offer, return to the main trail and turn left. This next stretch of the hike is fairly flat. Incidentally, off to your right you will now spot the remnants of a 2 metre (6 foot) high stone wall which during colonial times was used as a cattle pen. As a matter of fact, it is believed to date back to around 1750.
Shortly after, a number of Century plants will be visible off to your right along with one of the few permanent signs that indicate that you are on the right track for High North Peak.
The trail now steepens as you make your way towards the plateau of the national park. This section of the hike once again leads you through thick, wild forest. It is only once you reach the top and vantage point 2 that you once again get to feast your eyes on the wonderful views.
Vantage Point 2 – Summit
From this location, you now get to look south along the green forest-clad interior of Carriacou. Better still, are the views you now have out to the east.
The beautiful, vibrant turquoise waters of the tidal lagoon sit just off the coast, beyond which are the smaller, islands of Petite Martinique and Petit Saint Vincent (right to left).
In addition, just a stone’s throw to the south is the third and final location to admire these enticing Caribbean vistas.
Vantage Point 3
Once again, you get to enjoy the spectacular southerly views right down the length of Carriacou. But now you can take in these views whilst seated on a couple of large rocks that are literally perched right off the southern tip of the summit plateau.
From this point the High North Peak hike loops in a clockwise direction hugging the outer edge of the summit plateau.
There was really no discernible track during this stage of the hike. As a result, it was simply a case of picking our way between trees and through undergrowth. Thankfully, Hansel came equipped with a cutlass so he lead the way clearing the path as he went.
Dario kept emphasising that we all need to be more aware of our environment and always be on the lookout for the array of wonderful things that surround us. Almost immediately, Sarah gazed up into the canopy high above and spotted an Iguana happily basking in the sunshine.
Shortly afterwards, Dario pointed out the tiny nest of a Hummingbird. What a beautifully intricate work of art that these little creatures are able to create.
Being a part of this rich and very diverse environment, so far removed from our day to day reality, helped make our experience even more memorable.
As we headed north along the western summit ridge, Dario pointed out a tree that resembled a giraffe. I am not kidding you, it really does look like a giraffe! It is just amazing what nature is capable of, even if it is totally by accident.
Eventually the loop trail rejoined the path on which we ascended High North Peak. Here we turned left and followed the track back to the trailhead.
It was during our return journey that Sarah caught sight of a young Morrocoy tortoise alongside the trail. What a devine little creature!
High North Peak Hike – Questions & Answers
How high is High North Peak?
291 metres (956 feet)
How long does the hike take?
The hike should take approximately 2 hours to complete. However, we took nearly double that time but that was because Dario was inundating us with endless information about the hike, wildlife and nature. Above all, it was certainly an informative 4 hours.
How difficult is the hike?
There are a couple of moderately steep sections but if you are in reasonable physical shape, this hike will cause you no problems.
What wildlife can be seen in High North National Park?
During the hike it is possible to see creatures including iguanas, Manicous (opossum), boa constrictors, hummingbirds and even a macaw or two. In fact, we spotted an iguana, a number of soldier crabs and also a baby Morrocoy tortoise.
What varieties of trees and plants can be seen along the trail?
Within the dry deciduous forest of High North National Park you will see numerous species of trees and plants. These include:
High North Peak Hike – Our Thoughts
In conclusion, this was a thoroughly pleasurable hike through wild and varied forest, offering an abundance of wildlife, trees and plants to feast our eyes on. The three viewing locations offered spectacular and wide-ranging views across the whole of Carriacou and its neighbouring islands.
Having Dario (Kido Foundation) and Antonia (guide), accompanying us ensured that we were kept informed each step of the way. Above all, the passion and dedication that these two individuals had for wildlife and nature conservation was infectious.
The trail clearly required a lot of improving, including proper signage and information boards, if more locals and visitors are going to be attracted in greater numbers to High North Peak. Most importantly, these guys clearly had a plan, along with the dedication and passion to get this done.
If you are planning on doing some hiking in the Caribbean and find yourself on the island of Carriacou, the walk to High North Peak is well worth the effort!
Update: September 2019
The High North Nature Trail has had the overhaul that it clearly required. I have just spotted this excerpt from a post on the Kido Foundation’s Facebook Page:
“Only recently the Grenada Tourism Authority, Kido Foundation and the Government of Grenada collaborated on a project in that area to enhance the visitors experience by clearing the foot trail, erecting locally crafted signage and building tables and benches for a picnic area”.
For full details of the amazing work that has been carried out since our visit in January 2019, check out this Facebook post.
Summary of changes made to the High North Nature Trail since our visit
- New sign indicating start of hike (trailhead)
- Red turtles painted on trees to help guide visitors along the hiking trail
- Vantage Point 1 – A traditional viewfinder table with geo-cardinal points to help visitors identify locations in Carriacou
- Vantage Point 2 – New summit elevation sign plus interpretive panel and bench
- New signs highlighting points of interest along the trail
- General clearing of the trail
A huge well done to all those involved in implementing these significant changes!
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