Grand Etang National Park takes up a good portion of the central part of the island. If you have a car rental, it is about eight miles driving time north of the capital city of St George's. Mt Qua Qua and Grand Etang Lake are the two main focal points of this large park set in the island’s hills and mountains. The entire park is covered with dense and pristine tropical rainforest decorated with sparkling waterfalls and home to a plethora of wildlife, especially colorful tropical birds.
Grand Etang National Park is very popular for hiking, and the hikes vary in length and difficulty from less than an hour to four or five hours. The park is also on the menu of shore excursions offered by most of the liners doing Caribbean cruises that make a port call here for a night or two. Troops of mona monkey (imported from West Africa) roam the forests. Lucky visitors might spot an armadillo. Delicate hummingbirds hover around exquisite orchids and kingfishers fish in the clear streams. Giant ferns and gum trees, towering mahogany trees, thickets of montane, and other exotic flora cover everything.
Virtually all of Grand Etang National Park is at 2,000 feet or higher above sea level, and at more than 2,700 feet above sea level, its central feature Mt Qua Qua is the highest point on the island. The hike to the top of Mt Qua Qua is doable, even for children on family vacations, and the view is quite spectacular. You can see all of Grand Etang Lake and down into St George's and much of the rest of the coastline.
This island, like many others in the Caribbean, is volcanic. Grand Etang Lake was formed in the caldera of an extinct volcano. This is the most popular area for hikers, and the lake can be seen from the visitors center. The rainforest around the lake is particularly rich in flora and fauna. Look for a variety of colorful tropical birds as well as hawks, brilliantly colored little rainforest frogs and lizards, possums, armadillos, mongooses, and monkeys.
Before you reach the park entrance, there are some food stands where you can get some modest supplies. There is an interpretive center at the park entrance where you can use toilets. After that, you’re on your own to follow some well marked hiking trails. Come prepared for rain, even if it only lasts twenty minutes or so. Wear good hiking shoes for the slippery and often muddy trails. Long pants and long sleeve shirts are recommended. You can also book a guide who will add to your enjoyment with knowledgeable commentary.
Two of the trails in this National Park of Grenada are recommended only for advance hikers, and it is best to have a professional guide with you. These trails take you to Fedon’s Mountain and Concord Falls. Concord Falls is a triple waterfalls with a good sized swimming lagoon at the lower falls. You will find many day trippers and campers here. Head up for another 30 minutes to reach the more secluded second falls. Ambitious hikers have another two hours to the highest falls. Fedon’s Mountain is part of the island’s history, named for Julien Fedon, a free man of French and African heritage who led a rebellion against the British in 1795 and hid out in a camp here.
Image: Grenada Board of Tourism