Soaring 2,500 feet from the clear blue waters of the Caribbean, two towering peaks dominate the skyline. The larger of these green-laden summits is known as Gros Piton and its smaller counterpart is Petit Piton. They border Soufrière, a colorful Saint Lucia town that once served as the country’s capital. The Pitons are volcanic plugs that were created when lava cooled within a vent of the currently-dormant volcanoes. The Pitons of Saint Lucia are among the largest of the world’s volcanic plugs.
In 2004, the Pitons were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vibrant coral reefs cover nearly 60 percent of the surrounding marine area, which is home to 168 different species of finfish. The tropical forests that cover the Pitons are also a refuge for a range of unique flora and fauna. Gros Piton is home to 148 plant species and the Petit Piton is home to 97. On the small ridge between the two plugs, eight rare tree species have also been found. The forests lining the Pitons are teeming with almost 30 different bird species, five of which are endemic, as well as rodents, opossums, bats, reptiles, and amphibians.
The Pitons have become an iconic image for the island nation. So much so, the Saint Lucia-based Windward and Leeward Brewery named a beer after them. Their award-winning Piton beer was first brewed in October 1992 and includes many varieties like Piton Shandy Lemon or Piton Shandy Ginger. The popular beer can be found throughout the Caribbean and beyond.
Know Before You Go
The Gros Piton trailhead can be found at the following address: Gros piton soufriere, Soufriere, St. Lucia. The almost three-mile, out-and-back hike climbs 1,814 feet and takes about 3-6 hours to complete each way.
Visitors can also hike the one-mile, out-and-back trail to the top of Petit Piton. This hike takes usually around an hour and 15 minutes to complete with an elevation gain of 1,250 feet. Both trails are open year-round, but the Gros Piton trail is better marked and more well-traveled. Visitors shouldn’t hike the Petit Piton trail when it’s rainy, and special permits and guides may be required to hike the smaller Piton.