Grand Etang
Shoreline Trail

A walk around an extinct volcanic crater

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Grand Etang Shoreline Trail

Rain Clouds Grand Etang Lake Grenada

The Grand Etang shoreline trail is somewhere between two and three miles, taking about 1-1/2 hours for a round trip. This relatively easy hike begins on the Morne LaBaye Trail and encircles the lake shoreline at the edge of the Palm Break.

Grand Etang, in the caldera of an extinct volcano, has 5 different sub-climatic plant communities. This is one of the Caribbean's few hikes as high as 2,000 feet: be prepared for a chilly wind. And see those clouds coming down the mountain in the above photo? Also take a rain jacket.

Before reaching the lake, you'll cross a small pond. Look closely into this runoff from the lake, and you may be able to spot both crayfish and ling (a small-scale freshwater lobster).

Moving along the lakeshore, you'll walk through a palm brake dominated by fern trees and mountain palm (Euterpe palm). Above the palm break is a colorful forest of mahogany trees with orange, scarlet and yellow hibiscus growing on the trees.

The mahogany was brought in from Jamaica after 1955's Hurricane Janet. Besides helping reforest Grenada, the timber has a remarkable blue/green grain that makes outstanding furniture and handicrafts; it's also used in fencing.

If you didn't see any mona monkeys hanging out at the food stands near the Park Centre, you're almost certain to spot some around the lake. Most active at sunrise and sunset, as they swing through the forest canopy, Mona monkeys were brought from northern Africa during the early days of slavery.

If you don't see them, listen for their deep "buff-buff" grunt as they call out to one another. Mona monkeys (and opossums) like to hang out in the clusters of giant bamboo, which grow as high as 60 feet.

Incidentally, Grenadians don't anthropomorphize their animals (they did not grow up watching Bambi and Thumper or other cuddly Walt Disney characters) but make full use of their wildlife.

So you'll not only see monkeys as pets, you sometimes will find monkey--and opossum and armadillo--on the menu at some restaurants in St. George's. The monkey and armadillo are tasty; pass on the possum.

As you search the landscape for mona monkeys, take time to appreciate the staghorn ferns, wild orchids and epiphytes that grow on the sides of many trees.

You also may spot nests of the red-necked pigeon in high trees; those small birds darting through the foliage are probably the Antillean crested hummingbird (males have a blue-green head crest) or the rufus-breasted (rust-colored) hermit hummingbird.

Along the shoreline are cattle egrets, which migrated over from Africa and first appeared in Grenada around 1950; hooded tanagers (iridescent plumage with a black cap); and little blue herons.

The symbol of Grenada 's national park system is the broadwinged hawk (brown and white with a banded tail), which likes to soar high over the water.

The lake itself is slowly filling with reeds and may one day become merely a grassy marsh.

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