Hiking an active volcano

Montagne Pelée 


(Mount / Mont  Pelée)

is an active volcano on the island of Martinique in the lesser Antilles (south eastern Caribbean).

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano


It is famous for the destruction of Sainte Pierre and the death of 30,000 people caused by an eruption in 1902 which was dubbed the

Worst volcanic disaster of the 20th century!


Edit: I just found this cool smithsonian site about the Global Volcanism Program and Pelée.  Click here to read more.


I’ll write more about the disaster when I share photos and stories from Saint-Pierre sometime later. This post is all about our lovely hike up to the top of the volcano.


Edit- sometime later I wrote another post about Saint-Pierre. Click here to check it out!

Also, I did another post about a few things around Fort-de-France. Click here to check that one out!


Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano


I know, when you think “active volcano” and see these photos, you’re wondering where is all the lava and magma!??!??  Mt Pelée is currently quiescent and is grown over with vegetation, but is suspected to erupt again in the future.




There are 3 different hikes up to the crater:

Desiles hike: from Macouba.  This is the longest and least-trodden trail

L’Aileron: from Morne Rouge. This is a relatively popular one and was recommended by this blogger

La Grande Savane: from Le Prêcheur. This is the trail we chose and is another popular option.


Mt Pelee hiking trail map


Mt Pelee hiking trail map


La Grande Savanne trail to the top of Montagne Pelée


On D10 just south of Le Prêcheur there is a sign to this Mt Pelee hike. Take the road inland; as most roads in Martinique, this one is very windy and narrow. The road ends at the sign above with a tiny parking area (not an obvious parking lot by any means).

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

There is a jeep road that continues to the right. I have no clue where this road goes. A few trail guides we found tell us to take this route as the beginning of the hike. However, there is a marked trail just to the right of the sign. Since 2 other groups of hikers took this trail before we set off, we decided to follow them up this trail.

The trail starts off easy enough, up a gentle incline, through trees, and even over a nice bridge! Note- this bridge is your only moment of almost flat walking! Every other moment of the hike is on an incline. Be in decent shape or you might get exhausted quickly (or just take your time and hike more slowly).

Martinique- hiking a volcano

A view looking down the mountain at the bridge.  This is very close to the entrance of the hike



The majority of the hike is out in the open sun, so


and be sure to reapply.

Two fair ladies hiking in the Martinique sun… and we even wore sunscreen… let me just say it was bad. I am not sharing photos of our awful sunburns.



I digress….back to the hike! Behold the beauty!

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

This looks like it belongs in the shire! I LOVE THE SHIRE! Thus, I love this hike.


Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

 We pretended that I was Frodo and my friend was Sam

We were delivering the ring to toss in the fires of Mt Doom

Luckily, we did not encounter Shelob nor any orcs



The hike in different parts has gravel, stairs, rocks, grass, and overall is very well maintained. Know that there are times that are more of a scramble (using hands and climbing up rocks). I’m quite certain this is the case for all of the hikes up to the top of Mt Pelée, so any folks wanting to brave the volcano should be active.



There is a lot of interesting and lovely vegetation to be found up here too:

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano


Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

I love this guy- he looks as though he belongs underwater!



Up to the crater

Once you arrive to the crater rim, there is a posted sign with multiple direction options. One of them looks as though it is straight up (and it is), but it leads directly to the shack structure.

From here, one can hike up to chinois, the summit- which is another hour or so round trip (from the shack).

Continuing around the back of the shack is a trail which continues the crater rim loop and will bring you back to the posted sign.

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano


On an extremely clear day, one can see to the neighboring islands, but clear days are very rare on the island.  We were lucky to not be engulfed in the cloud when we reached the crater rim. Though on the hike down, the cloud began rolling in:


Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano

Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano





The hike up to the crater rim should take 1.5-2 ish hours one direction.

The hike around the crater rim is said to take 2 or so hours.  Since I left my hiking partner at the crater rim trail “head,” I did not hike the full loop, but went straight up to the shack and came back- which took approximately an hour round trip.

The hike from the shack to Chinois- the summit- is said to take an hour+ round trip.


Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano



The hike was beautiful and exhausting. Our  legs were a bit shaky at the end of the hike.

We took the following day “off” and relaxed a bit to rest our tired legs and sunburnt necks. I highly recommend hiking at least up to the crater.  It is certainly an experience!


Montagne Pelée- hiking an active volcano



Would you like to see photos of another adventure?


Click here to learn about my hike through Partnachklamm- a beautiful gorge in Germany


Or click here to learn about my hike over the top of the O2 in London



Thank you for visiting, and as usual, please let me know if you have any questions about this trip or if you would like to know more about an area you are traveling to- I might have been there and can expedite a post for you!



  • Have you ever hiked a volcano? Would you like to?


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One thought on “Hiking an active volcano

  1. Alyssa says:

    Looks like you had a blast and I’ve never thought of Mont Pelee like LOTR, that was funny! Enjoy Martinique, thanks for the shout out :)

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