|Pitons Management Area|
Aerial view of The Pitons
|Location||Southwestern Saint Lucia|
|Nearest city||Soufrière and Choiseul|
|Designated||2004 (28th session)|
|State Party||Saint Lucia|
|Region||Latin America and the Caribbean|
The Pitons are two mountainous volcanic plugs, volcanic spires, located in Saint Lucia. The Gros Piton is 771 metres (2,530 ft) high, and the Petit Piton is 743 metres (2,438 ft) high; they are linked by the Piton Mitan ridge. The Pitons are a World Heritage Site 2,909 ha (7,190 acres) in size and located near the town of Soufrière.
The Pitons (Peaks in French) are located near the towns of Soufrière and Choiseul on the southwestern coast of the island. They are in the electoral districts of three and ten. The Pitons are located on either side of the Jalousie Bay.
The volcanic complex includes a geothermal field with sulphurous fumeroles and hot springs. Coral reefs cover almost 60% of the site’s marine area. A survey has revealed 168 species of finfish, 60 species of cnidaria, including corals, eight molluscs, 14 sponges, 11 echinoderms, 15 arthropods and eight annelid worms. The dominant terrestrial vegetation is tropical moist forest grading to subtropical wet forest, with small areas of dry forest and wet elfin woodland on the summits. At least 148 plant species have been recorded on Gros Piton, 97 on Petit Piton and the intervening ridge, among them eight rare tree species. The Gros Piton is home to some 27 bird species (five of them endemic), three indigenous rodents, one opossum, three bats, eight reptiles and three amphibians.
The Gros Piton is easier climbed with well established tours that provide transportation to the "Interpretive centre" (a small welcome center of sorts with descriptions and models of the local geography, geology and plant life).
The park service mandates that guides be used when climbing this peak. The guides are park service employees that are professional, informative and fun to hike with. The climb averages 2 hours to the summit and rewards those that make it with spectacular views of the island and the Petit Piton. This is a hike, not a climb and although strenuous does not require any special skills or present much exposure or danger.
The Petit is quite different in that there is no welcome center or even a marked trailhead for that matter. Although no guide is mandatory on this peak, you would be well served finding a local that knows the route. The climb does have some primitive fixed ropes and does present some exposure. The summit is a much smaller area, but has even better views.