Grand Etang National Park, Grenada
The Mount Qua Qua hike is a moderately challenging trail that follows the volcanic crater ridge to the west of Grand Etang Lake, offering beautiful views across rainforest to Grenada’s east and west coasts
Hiking to the Summit of Mount Qua Qua
The Mount Qua Qua hike was one of the adventures that we added to our ‘must do’ list prior to arriving in Grenada. However, we were desperate to select a day when little or no rain was forecast. We had read plenty of negative reviews of individuals and groups whose hikes had been miserable or even dangerous, following heavy rainfall on the trail.
We were staying in Grenada during December/January, which is the transition between the dry and wet seasons. Moreover, being located in the rainforest covered, mountainous interior of Grenada, we knew that finding a rain-free day was not going to be easy.
Our opportunity arose when we were staying in the village of Bathway, on the northeast coast of Grenada. So, early one morning, our Airbnb hosts dropped us in River Sallee where we jumped on the number 9 bus to Grenville.
Next, we took the number 6 bus which deposited us right at the entrance to Grand Etang National Park and the starting point of the Mount Qua Qua hike.
Where is Mount Qua Qua?
Mount Qua Qua is located in Grand Etang National Park, in Grenada’s mountainous centre. The national park entrance is situated just off the main road connecting Grenada’s capital, St Georges, with the island’s second biggest town, Grenville.
Finding a Guide
Upon arriving at Grand Etang National Park just after 09:00, we headed straight to the visitor’s centre where we signed in. Here we enquired about a hiking guide as we were unclear as to the difficulty and state of the trail to the summit of Mount Qua Qua. We were the only people there and at first, we weren’t even sure that the park was open.
We then looked up to see a number of tour coaches arrive and within minutes hoards of cap and camera-clad tourists marched in our direction. At the same time, a friendly young man, called Gemry, introduced himself as our guide to Mount Qua Qua.
The Mount Qua Qua Hike
We negotiated a EC$100 (£30 approx) fee for the hike and headed 200-300 metres down the road in the direction of St Georges, to the trailhead on the right-hand side of the road.
The first section of the trail is relatively flat and leads you through pleasant forest on a well-defined track. After a short distance, there is a route off to your right which leads down to Grand Etang Lake and the Shoreline Trail, if you fancy a little further exploring.
At this point, the Mount Qua Qua hike gradient increases but some helpful man-made steps integrated into all the steeper sections greatly aid your climb.
The forest does a great job of acting as a natural windbreak as the trail winds its way up the ridge. The canopy also works nicely as a parasol, shielding you from the strong Caribbean sunshine.
Views Open Up!
As the elevation increases, the canopy gradually opens up and regular gaps begin to appear in the undergrowth off to both left and right. As a result, glimpses of the sparkling ocean beyond the thick carpet of dark, lush forest become visible for the first time.
If you are anything like us, you will probably find yourself stopping at regular intervals to marvel at the wide variety of exquisite views on offer.
Grand Etang Lake will also now come in to view behind you and what a sight that is! A glistening lake encircled by light green vegetation, with a backdrop of craggy, dark green peaks. A photographer’s dream for sure!
Up on the Ridge
As the Mount Qua Qua hike leads you on the final stretch towards the summit, you really get a sense that you are walking along a mountain ridge. This is because the forest that was acting as a shield a little further back, is now a little thinner. You are now fully exposed to both the sun and those strong, gusty easterly prevailing winds.
A short distance from the summit, there is a path leading off to the left. This will take you to the beautiful Concord Falls if you are looking for additional hiking excitement.
There is certainly no mistaking the point at which you reach the summit of Mount Qua Qua. For one, the path simply ends. Secondly, there is an enormous boulder which is frankly hard to miss!
If you want some extra sumptuous views, scramble on top of the summit stone and marvel at the wide-ranging vistas across Grenada’s east coast. However, please be careful as there is one heck of a drop from the far side of this stone.
Once you have soaked in the splendour of the summit views, it is time to begin the descent.
Mount Qua Qua Hike – Questions & Answers
How far is the Mount Qua Qua Hike?
4.3 km (2.67 miles) out and back – total
How long does the hike take?
It took us 3 hours in total – 1 hr 45 mins going up and 1 hr 15 mins coming down.
How difficult is the hike?
This is not a difficult hike in our opinion. If you are in reasonable physical shape, you should have few problems. Obviously, if you choose a day during or following heavy rain, the difficulty level will be ramped up significantly. Check out the TripAdvisor page for hikers experiences.
What is the trail like?
When researching this hike prior to arriving in Grenada, we were led to believe, by some, that the trail was still in relatively poor condition following the damage caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. However, we thought the trail was in really good condition. There were also signposts indicating the destinations of the paths leading off the Mount Qua Qua trail, so there were no issues there either.
We also picked a day when no rain was forecast. In fact, it had not rained during the preceding two days. This ensured that the track underfoot was firm and there were only a couple of muddy areas along the trail.
How high is Mount Qua Qua?
Mount Qua Qua height – 722 metres (2370 feet)
Is a Guide Required?
We felt it wise to hire a guide as a result of the online research that we had undertaken prior to arriving in Grenada. Having completed the Mount Qua Qua hike, we can safely say that a guide is certainly not necessary.
Having said that, we picked up some really useful pieces of knowledge from all the hiking guides that accompanied us in the Caribbean. So, their services were always deemed worthwhile.
Is Parking Available?
It is safe to say that the majority of visitors to Grand Etang National Park arrive via a tour bus or private taxi. However, if you plan on arriving by car, there are parking places immediately outside the entrance to the national park on the main road.
Grand Etang National Park – Some Useful Information
- The Grand Etang National Park was established in 1906 and covers an area of 3816 acres (1544 hectares).
- The source of Great River, the largest river in Grenada can be found within the national park. This joins the Atlantic Ocean on the Island’s eastern side.
- The Grand Etang Crater Lake, the park’s focal point, was formed by volcanic activity that occurred 15,000 to 25,000 years ago.
- Grand Etang Lake is approximately 6 metres (20 feet) deep and 36 acres in area.
- Some areas of the national park receive as much as 400 cm (157 inches) of rain each year.
- Grand Etang Lake sits at an elevation of 548 metres (1800 feet) above sea level.
Flora and Fauna
The various elevations and terrain types of the Grand Etang National Park enable the existence of a variety of ecological subsystems, including the elfin woodlands on the high slopes of the park’s central mountains.
The national park is also home to towering Mahogany and giant Gommier trees. You will also find a wide range of ferns, tropical flowers in addition to a variety of other native plants.
The abundance of thick, lush vegetation provides shelter for a wide variety of animals. The park is home to many species of birds such as the Broad Winged Hawk (known locally as the gree-gree), Lesser Antillean Swift, Antillean Euphonia, Purple Throated Carib, Antillean Crested Hummingbird (known as the Doctor Bird) and the Lesser Antillean Tanager.
Other Things to do in Grand Etang National Park
Mount Qua Qua Grenada Hike – Our Thoughts
Grand Etang National Park is like a different world to that of the island’s coastal areas, offering its own unique beauty. The temperature, for one, is approximately 6-8 °C cooler. The splendour of the location is instantly apparent, with the sparkling crater lake sitting beneath a backdrop of forest dressed peaks.
The Mount Qua Qua hike itself was a real treat. It was not a taxing hike by any stretch of the imagination but a thoroughly enjoyable one nonetheless.
Our guide, Gemry, was great company and dropped useful snippets of local knowledge into the conversation along the route.
We were amazed at just how quiet the trail was. Considering that we had witnessed the arrival of multiple tour buses as we left the visitor centre, we only passed one group during the entire hike.
The views along the trail were simply spectacular! In every direction, different shades of lush green forest adorn the landscape. In addition, the sweeping views to both coasts as well as Grand Etang Lake are magnificent.
As mentioned earlier, we picked a good weather day for undertaking this hike. We had read too many online reviews by those who had attempted the hike following or during a spell of rain. Consequently, their days turned out to be miserable and in some cases, dangerous.
A cautionary note to take on board here is that it rains a great deal in this region. Whether it is the dry or wet season, up here in the mountainous interior, rain can come at any time. Therefore, if you are not spending sufficient time on the island to pick the perfect weather day, just make sure you wear decent waterproof hiking boots and carry appropriate rain gear.
We loved it, we are sure you will too!
Let us Know Your Thoughts…
Want to find out what others are saying about their Mount Qua Qua hiking experience? Check out the Mount Qua Qua TripAdvisor page.
Have you experienced the Mount Qua Qua hike? If so, we would certainly love to hear your thoughts. Please share in the comment box below…