Compared to most people, Kevin and I do a lot of hiking during the summers in Colorado. A lot. But now I’m forced to recognize A) how incredibly out of shape I am (probably has something to do with caring for my father and his subsequent passing this past winter), and B) we spend a lot of time on the trail, but that may not mean we get more miles in than other hikers.
For instance, the three mile round trip hike to Middleham Falls in Dominica’s Morne Trois Pitons National Park is supposed to take about 45 minutes each way. Somehow we turned that into an hour and a half each way. The hike is on a trail that is in decent condition and, thankfully, not too muddy in spite of recent rains. But the trail does climb quite a bit using stairs like our experience in Nepal, rather than slowly sloping trails like in Colorado. For some of the trail there are roots to navigate so as not to turn an ankle. So, eventually our legs were “feeling it” and we were grateful we each had brought a hiking pole.
The other factor that influences how much more time our hikes take is that I often stop to take pictures, and Kevin likes to chat with whoever comes along on the trail. Both of these habits have their rewards. I guess it’s a good thing that we are never really in a hurry.
The first section of the trail to Middleham Falls is on the Waitukubuli National Trail, the Caribbean’s first long distance hiking trail. You can see that you are on the trail by the painted markers of blue and yellow.
As you hike along, listen for the calls of birds in the jungle. Take note of the massive trees and colorful flowers. Also notice the drainage that has been engineered into the trail – it’s quite impressive.
After a mostly uphill climb you’ll come to an intersection with another trail. The Waitukubuli Trail heads to the right and the trail to Middleham Falls drops downhill to the left. This is where the trail becomes even more technically challenging. Luckily, it’s a short hike downhill.
You’ll hear the roar of the falls as you approach. There’s a viewpoint to the right of the trail with a sign that may or may not say something about not going past the sign – it’s actually pretty illegible. Don’t be an idiot.
Once you get to the bottom of the canyon you can decide where to go. We climbed our way to the pool at the base of the falls but it was so windy and such a torrent that it wasn’t pleasant at all. So we headed back to a pool a little further downstream and enjoyed a soak, with the fishes. Our muscles were grateful for the cold water! At this point we noted that almost everyone we had seen on the trail (maybe a dozen or so people) was our kids’ ages.
By 1:00 the sun was dropping behind a wall of the canyon. If you want to see the falls lit in sunlight, arrive by late morning, or definitely before 1:00!
Middleham Falls is worth the effort, but be in shape and in no hurry. You have to earn this experience.
Getting there: Take Valley Road (sometimes called King George V Road) east out of Roseau. Stay on this road and follow the signs to the park. About 2.9 km after the turn off to Trafalgar Falls you’ll see a turn on the left for Symes Zee Villa – continue past this landmark. The turn off to the Middleham Falls trailhead is 1 km past Symes Zee Villa. Take the sharp left turn to Middleham Falls. After getting down the hill you’ll pass a construction site for an ecolodge development and then you’ll come to a parking area. The trailhead includes a covered picnic area and toilets. The trail begins on the north west side of the parking lot.
What to bring: hiking shoes (we wore hiking sandals so we could wear them right into the water), hiking pole(s), water, a snack or lunch, sunblock and hat, camera, rain gear.