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Freshwater Lake

Difficulty: Easy Duration: 1 hour Starting Point: In the village of Laudat, 8 km northeast of Roseau. Freshwater Lake The Freshwater Lake lies in the center of an old volcano at the foot of Morne Macaque. This, Dominica's largest lake, is located at over 762 m above sea level and is the source of the Roseau River.  Though it's only 17 m deep, the lake was historically thought to be bottomless and a persistent legend tells of a one-eyed denizen of the deep that resides in the lake. A walk around the lake provides the opportunity to study Dominica’s higher forests.   Montane forest, which can be recognized by its short, thin trees and open canopy, covers the majority of the area surrounding the lake. The shallow soils and strong winds do not permit the luxuriant tree growth, so characteristic of rainforests. The elevated areas around the lake offer a magnificent view of the East coast and the towns of Grand Fond and Rosalie to which the Chemin Letang trail leads.  On a very clear day you may even be able to catch a glimpse of the French island of Marie-Galante on the horizon, to the north-east of Dominica. The open canopy of the Montane Forest permits the sunlight to reach the forest floor where many shrubs (Blue Wax, Heliconia bihai), herbaceous plants and ferns grow. Another characteristic of the Montane Forest is the abundance of epiphytes-plants, large-leaved anthuriums and Apolexi.   In the swampy areas around the lake’s edge the most common trees are the Man Wouj and Mang Blanc, Maho Kochon, Gombo Mountain, Laurier, palms. The most conspicuous wildlife in the Montane Forest are the birds (Mountain Whistler, Purple-throated, Antillean-crested, Blue-headed Hummingbird) and, on rare occasions, a migratory Blue-winged teal, Lone Egret. The other wildlife in the area includes the Agouti (a rabbit-like rodent), Anolis lizards, bats, oposums, and feral cats. The aquatic life of the lake includes a brown and yellow crab and Tilapia, also a few clumps of water hyacinth and sedges.

Boiling Lake

Difficulty: Strenuous Duration: 6 hours round trip Starting Point: Laudat, next to Titou Gorge The Boiling Lake Hike ranks as one of Dominica's most demanding trails, with good reason -three hours to the lake and three hours back over some challenging terrain. This well-maintained trail begins at approximately 490m, where a level stretch of rocky pathway blends alternately with wooden steps.  But don't be fooled by the flat beginning—it grows steeper.  Although this is a challenging trail, the trip is among the best ways to experience the rainforest of the Caribbean’s Nature Island.  See and hear rainforest birds and other rare tropical animals while truly experiencing the heart of the island. The wet rainforest is crossed by rising gradually from 540m to 690m then goes down 30m toward the Trois Pitons River, also known as Breakfast River because it is usually the first rest stop. An hour is needed to reach this river. After this first stop, the path follows a ridge.  One passes gradually from the rain forest to the mountain forest. An hour after the river, one arrives at the highest point, 900m, which offer a panoramic view over all the central zone of the park. Some metres farther down, to the right, are a side trail to Wotten Waven. By going to the left, one reaches the Valley of the Desolation. The region known as the Valley of Desolation, which was once a lush forested area, now appears to be devoid of life. The floor of the valley is covered in a dense mat of mosses and lichens, and scattered below are grasses and the yellow-and-white flowered Bromeliad, Pitcairnia spicata var. sulpurea.   The valley is followed for 30 minutes on the right bank, then, passing to the left bank, one turns off to the northeast reaching the Boiling Lake in a further 30 minutes. This is the world’s largest boiling lake. The Boiling Lake appears like a cauldron of bubbling grayish-blue water that is usually enveloped in a cloud of vapour. The lake is approximately 63m across and its present depth is unknown. The sides of the lake are a mixture of clay, pumice and small stones. The Boiling Lake is a flooded fumarole, a crack through which gases escape from the molten lava below, rather than a volcanic crater. The natural basin of Boiling Lake collects the rainfall from the surrounding hills and from two small streams, which empty into the lake. The water seeps through the porous bottom to the hot lava below where it is trapped and heated to boiling point. This trail is the most spectacular in Dominica. It combines rain forest and mountain forest before crossing the bleak Valley of Desolation and reaching the spectacular Boiling Lake.   Do not attempt this difficult trail without a local guide. Scattered throughout the purple-green valley floors are brightly colored hot springs. The greys, blues, blacks, greens, yellows, browns and oranges are the result of minerals from the water, which have been deposited on the streambeds. Some of the rocks are also covered with yellow sulphur crystals. Hot boiling mud, mini-geysers and fumaroles are scattered in the Valley of Desolation. The water from the Boiling Lake and the Valley of Desolation flows into Victoria Falls and White River “River Blanc”, and enters the Atlantic Ocean via Pointe Mulatre River, a popular picnic area in Delices. As the trail winds past large Chataignier, Bwa Bande and Maho Kochon trees, listen for the song of the Sifle Moutayn (Mountain Whistler) in the canopy above.   From the Breakfast River, the trail winds steeply up the slopes of Morne Nicholls. It passes through the remains of one of the best stands of Wezinye Montayn, which is the only native conifer on the island.   From the summit of Morne Nicollls you may get a panoramic view of Morne Macaque to the North, the sharp cone of Morne Watt to the south, and to the west: Roseau, Morne Prosper, Laudat and Cochrane.   In the upper regions of Morne Nicholls is another type of forest, Elfin Woodland.  The trees here are stunted by strong winds, and their branches and trunks are nearly hidden by the many mosses and lichens, which grow on them. The harsh environment of Valley has limited the wildlife to lizards, cockroaches, stoneflies, mayflies and ants.

Boeri  Lake

Difficulty: Moderate Duration: 45 minutes each way Starting Point: Freshwater Lake in Laudat Boeri Lake The path to Boeri Lake begins close to the Freshwater Lake and is a moderate 4 km walk.  The path is rocky and can be slippery so be careful, especially in the rain.  The walk to the Boeri Lake takes you past hot and cold springs gushing from the side of Morne Macaque, past crystal clear streams, and through old gardens, mountain forest and elfin woodland. The lake sits at an elevation of 850 metres and covers about four acres.  It is located in the crater of an old volcano in which Morne Macaque (also known locally known as Morne Micotrin) was formed, separating Boeri from Freshwater Lake.  Boeri Lake is almost circular in shape and may be at least 36 m deep.   Fed by rainfall and runoff, the water level varies with the seasons.  The level normally reaches its highest between October and December, when water may be seen leaving the lake via the outlet. The walk up the ridge to Boeri Lake offers some superb panoramic views of Dominica’s landscape. The most conspicuous wildlife in the region of the Boeri Lake are the small tree lizards (Zannoli) and the birds. The beautiful song of the small and shy Sifle Moutayn (Mountain Whistler) should not be missed, and occasionally a solitary migratory waterfowl may be found on Boeri Lake. Butterflies are sometimes seen fluttering in the breeze above the lake, and the brown and yellow siwik or River crab often makes its home between the boulders on the lakeshore.

Middleham Falls

Difficulty: Moderate Duration: Minimum 45 minutes each way Starting Point: 8 km northeast of Roseau, just before the entrance to the Laudat Village, or alternatively, via Cochrane Village above Canefield. The trek to Middleham Falls leads into the heart of the rainforest.  The falls are striking - a narrow stream drops about 60 metres from a keyhole notch in the lip of the cliff.  A shallow cave to the left of the falls makes a great place to sit and watch the action before diving into the water. Brace yourself for a chilly dip! Though there are two trails to Middleham Falls, the more popular trail begins off the Roseau-Laudat road.  From the National Park Reception Centre, the trailhead is less than two miles from the falls.  You start at 490 metres and climb to a ridge at 670 metres and then descend back down to the falls themselves.  The round trip normally takes 2-3 hours, is relatively long and hilly, but the trail is not especially difficult. There is a trail junction above the falls indicating an extension to the Stinking Pot and the village of Cochrane.   The Stinking Pot, which is 30 minutes further on, is a cave that is the home of thousands of bats and gets its name from their droppings.   One can either return back along the trail to the Laudat entrance or continue past the Stinking Pot for a further 10 minutes to the tarred road some 2 kilometres above the village of Cochrane.

Titou Gorge

Difficulty: Easy Duration: Starting Point: 8 km. northeast of Roseau, in Laudat Titou Gorge To get to Titou Gorge (Littele Throat), drive about a half-mile beyond Laudat and look for the utility station. The trip to Titou Gorge, (Little Throat) is actually a swim from the base of a waterfall through a series of natural "rooms and ponds" formed by high cliff walls canopied by interlaced trees.  The undulating sides of this deep, narrow gorge indicate that it was not cut by a river. As the molten lava was cooling, it split and pulled apart, similar to the way a drying mud puddle split and cracks. The swim up the gorge is short, only about five minutes. Less confident swimmers or those traveling with camera equipment may consider using a flotation device.  Also note that the depth varies depending on rainfall. The canopied light filtering down the mountainside within the gorge is spectacular. A hot spring tumbles down a short wall just outside the entrance of the gorge. Soak in the warmth after swimming in the cool waters of the falls.

Chemin Letang Trail

Difficulty: Moderate Duration: 1 hour one way Starting Point: Laudat / Grand Fond This cross-island trail (Chemin Letang means Lake Road) goes from Rosalie on the east coast to the Freshwater Lake and was originally a Carib track across the island.  For many years it was the main east-west route traversing the island. From Freshwater Lake, the trail leads to Grand Fond and the Dernier Falls , then continues to the Rosalie River.

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