Dominica, Portsmouth, Farm & Mountain

This is a loop hike, about four hours long, tough enough to be challenging at times. The trail takes you through lovely farmland then into challenging rain forest. Swimming holes at both ends will allow you to cool off. A good part of the hike is on section 11 of the Waitikubuli trail, but in this shortened version you are going to walk out of Portsmouth and take a path to join the trail, and then bail out when not too far from the medical school. The trail and some part leading into it, are marked with blue and yellow paint and sometimes red numbers. These are painted on rocks, stones and trees. If four hours is too long, either end of the trail can be used for shorter walks. More about that later.

The best dinghy dock is the Indian River, walk back into to town turn right by the bus square along the Main road out of town in the direction of Calibishe. 10 to 15 minutes walking will bring you to a wide grassy road on your right. At this point you can see the top of a big aerial ahead of you, probably horses on your right, maybe the stables sign still on your right, and some kind of industrial thing with cement trucks and a big fenced compound on the other side of the grassy road. Turn down the grassy road; it is lovely with guava trees lining it some of the way. The road crosses the upper reaches of the Indian River with bathing pools for a quick dip. The road continues up through delightful farmland. Just before a fairly sharp right turn in the road is a big dark rock on your right. Your trail continues on up the road, but if you take a tiny path down past this rock it brings you very shortly to a lovely small spring, one of the sources of the Indian River. Higher up the road you will come to a major road division, you take a right turn here, clearly marked the Waitikubuli trail. The road will soon turn into a path and you will have been walking now about an hour. The path is uphill, but good walking. At one point you pass right between two little farm huts. The path continues up and up and you think you are going to the top of a mountain, but happily there is a trail sign and you come to a clear division (about one and half hours from town). The sign points up the mountain, but you want to make a right turn here into the forest. You have now come off the feeder into the Waitubuli trail and are on the main trail; this where the hike gets a little challenging. The trail is muddy and slippery in places. It is mainly well-marked, though very small, and often steep. Many steps have been cut in, but lots of these have washed out. Luckily you are in the forest so trees serve as handholds much of the time. You are going deep into the forest here, so take your time and avoid a fall. Be prepared for some butt slides if you feel more comfortable. The path takes you steeply down into a deep ravine, and then up and up on the other side. It than takes you along a pretty ridge lines for some of the time and here it is easier. But there is still some tricky downhill work to be negotiated. After about three hours into your hike you come a delightful covered shelter with a picnic table with a panoramic view over Prince Rupert Bay. You can breathe a sigh of relief here; the path they used to carry all the building material cannot but as bad as the one you have come along. However it is steeply down and still quite challenging. You come down to the river where they have built a fabulous suspension bridge which will take you across. Walk on up to the road. Here you will be turning right to get you off the trail and back into civilization. However a short way down you will find access to the river and a great swimming hole called Basin Powell. If you are hungry and thirsty Riverside Restaurant is just a short walk away, and the quickest way to get back to the Indian River is to pass through the customs area and follow the coast.

If you hike the trail the other way round, you do the difficult part more at the beginning of the hike. From the Riverside Restaurant, come out to the main road and turn right, cross the bridge and pass the supermarket. Take the first road on your left which is right beside a utilitarian part of the medical school. Continue a long way up this road. Look for the Waitukubuli Trial sign pointing downhill on your left. However you are really going to have to look, as is aligned for people coming the other way along the trail. A little higher than the sign is a building, under construction when we passed, with water pipes stacked up.

If you want a shorter walk, the first part of this hike, to the Indian River water source, is a perfectly lovely and easy walk. Return the same way. At the other end you can take a picnic across the suspension bridge and up to the shelter with a view. Afterwards you can return, turn left on the road and follow it up to the old water source, and spend some time playing in the river.