Grand Etang National Park
One of the Caribbean's best system of hiking trails.
Grand Etang National Park
and Forest Reserve
Grand Etang National Park is the center of Grenada's hiking. The ranger station/interpretive center is pictured above. Most trails are well marked and require little assistance, although it's always more enjoyable to have a guide who can share the local folklore.
Situated high in true tropical rain forest where the mountain peaks are frequently obscured by clouds, Grand Etang Park is a wonderful conservation example to governments around the world.
Grand Etang, headquarters for Grenada's National Park System, is supported by the British Development Division, the United Nations Development Program, The Organization of American States, the U.S. Peace Corps, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the government of Grenada.
That's quite an impressive array of backers, and it makes one wish this sort of international cooperation was a commonplace practice, not something to point out as unusual.
Only 8 miles from the center of St. George's, sections of the park are more than 2,000 feet above sea level, high enough to cause decompression sickness (the bends) in anyone foolish enough to scuba dive, then go hiking the same day.
Grand Etang ("large pond" in French) at 1,740 feet is named after a small lake there, actually an old volcanic crater.
The park vegetation is extremely diverse, including cloud forests, montane thickets, palm brakes, and elfin woodland, as well as rain forest. A modest interpretive center called the Park Centre has a receptionist and guide who, if contacted in advance, may personally escort you. You're better off bringing your own guide.
Displays also feature the island's wildlife (particularly the mona monkeys), forestry and natural history, including more than 20 different wood samples. Several small food stands located near the Park Centre sell cold drinks.
With 160 inches of rain falling annually, the hiking trails can be quite muddy and slick. Long pants are not essential if you stay on the trail path and avoid encounters with razor grass, a climbing grass with extremely sharp edges. I find it takes a long time for even minor razor grass cuts to heal.
Grand Etang is most noted for its tall mahogany and gommier trees, ferns and other plants. Animals include the mona monkey, armadillo, broad-winged hawk (locally called “gree-gree”), Antillean crested hummingbird (the “little doctor bird”) and the Antillean tanager (called “the soursop”).