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July 13, 2007
Getting to the start of the trail takes some driving skill, as you go up and down some quite steep inland roads that become increasingly less paved. However, once you arrive you will notice the start of the trail by the large sign posted nearby, along with a nearby cottage where the heritage trust people will assign you a guide and work out a route based on your abilities and time. Once you cross over the fencing that bounds the rainforest, you are immediately on a well-cleared path that skirts low gorges and boulders, winding down and then up in gradual descents and ascents that are really not taxing on the legs. Stop along the way and ask your guide anything: mine seemed to know every plant and tree including the few that were not marked by a sign, although most of the notable growth are in fact signed once. Many of these signs bear the Latin name for the tree or plant, then the local St. Lucian "kweole" (creole) name, which often derives from French. My guide pointed out with some pride that there were no less than 188 species of fern within Forestiere, although, in her words, "this was not even the largest rainforest in St. Lucia".
My route did not take in the entire circular journey you can take around the rainforest perimeter, but I did hike in fairly far for about 45 minutes inbound. The rainforest interior envelops you immediately in high old growth that practically filters out most direct sunlight so that you are submerged in a beautiful green-hued twilight. The diversity of the ferns is visible in the variety of their size which ranges from giant species several feet high to small, lichen-like types that spring up between the crevices of rocks along your way. Thick, twisting vines curl their way up the highest trees, some of which have fallen into the lower depths of the rainforest and then become home to more dependent plant life. One of the fascinating things of a hike here, if you are not a biologist used to such facts, is just how interdependent and interconnected the entire spectrum of plant life is within this type of rainforest. At one point, you also pass a small stream that pools near the forest trail, a nice spot for a break to cool off and the water is drinkable. Check ahead for hours to visit, and to arrange a guide. You can check this and other rainforest locations at: www.heritagetoursstlucia.org.
From journal St. Lucia - Shades of the Emerald Isle
Loma Linda, California
December 4, 2005
From journal Beautiful St. Lucia