Difficulty: 7/10, With descent to crater: 9/10
Overall Rating: 4/5
Time: Summit and return: 3-4 hours, With decent to crater: 4-6 hours
Elevation Gain: 650 m (2100 ft) (Parking area to crater rim)
Long steep incline with areas of gradual uphill walking. Rock climbing at the top for a great view inside the crater and out over the ocean. Dog do-able.
From Ross University, make a left (heading west) onto the island main road. Drive west/northwest passing Spratnet. About 5 to 7 minutes after Spratnet you will come to a fork in the road. Stay right. Proceed along island main road for another 5 to 10 minutes depending on rate of travel. You will see a sign for Mt. Liamuigi. Make a right onto the road immediately adjacent to the sign. Cross the train tracks and follow the road to the end. The trail begins through the left gate in parking area.
Smaller cars in good shape can usually make it, but if it has rained recently, there are several large mud puddles that you could get stuck in. It’s also a long, gradual incline, so be sure that your radiator is in good order to prevent overheating.
The first third of the trail is a gradual incline with some stairs and rope handholds. The rope may seem unnecessary when it’s dry, but this section can get extremely muddy after large rainfall. We often call this the “warm up”. It’s not overly difficult but can be tiring.
The second third begins when you reach a riverbed and it becomes much steeper. Take care when returning that you follow the trail across the riverbed and not down. There are a few markers to remind you.
After climbing up a rocky riverbed, you will take a left turn up another fairly steep section. At the top of this, you will take another sharp left turn where the trail will start to flatten out.
The final third begins with a short uphill section that levels out and actually starts going back down in parts. There are many large exposed tree roots so take care not to trip over them. After some time, you’ll reach the base of another rocky riverbed. You are nearly there! This final section is a steep climb up slippery rocks, but there are lots of handholds and places where you can stop and rest.
Once you reach the top, you’ll be able to see down into the crater through the trees. For a better view, turn left and head up the trail. There are two viewpoints with openings along the trail. For the best possible view, come back and turn right. Head up over, or around the large rock and follow the ropes. Climb up three rocks using the ropes to assist. This can be a bit tricky depending on how tall you are. You’ll then see a wooden ladder on your right. Take this ladder up and you’ll be on a tall, open rock ledge with an amazing view.
There are a few other places you can explore at the top. If you climb down a bit further from the main open rock ledge and look towards the sea, you’ll have a great view of the islands to the north, as well as the farmland below, giving a great impression of how high you’ve climbed.
You can also turn left at the ladder and climb (very carefully) along the rocks to get a similar view towards the northwest. If you are an extremely confident climber, light, and in good shape, you may be able to get around the back of the rock and find a small blue rope that will take you up even higher. This is not recommended unless you are with someone who has been up there before.
For a more challenging hike, add climbing down into the bottom of the crater to see the pond, smell the sulfur, and feel very small inside a volcano! Add 2 hours time and leave the dog at home. Climbing into crater also entails some very steep descents down the crater walls on ropes. Getting down goes quickly (20 minutes), but be sure to save lots of energy and arm strength for the climb back up.
The trail starts right after you finish climbing the final rocky stream bed. You should see some ropes dangling down a very steep gradient. Going down, you can basically just lower yourself down the steep sections using the ropes. At writing time (Spring 2014) the ropes were in very good shape and most sections had backups.
Once you reach the bottom, head straight towards the large rock pile. Be sure to pay attention to where you came down (and possibly mark it) as it’s often overgrown and could be difficult to find again. The water level in the crater lake varies significantly in different seasons. Sometimes there is no water at all, whereas during the wet season, it can become quite deep.
Fumaroles are cracks or openings in the ground through which volcanic gases from beneath the Earth’s surface escape. Monitoring of fumaroles by analysing the gases and measuring temperatures may be useful in predicting volcanic eruptions. Volcanic gases may be hazardous to humans and animals and have in some cases caused death. Condensation of the gases into groundwater can result in alteration and dissolution of rock near the surface, making these areas prone to collapse or subsidence.
Gases such as sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen sulphide (H2S) are present in toxic amounts close to the vent of an erupting volcano and/or may be emitted from fumaroles. One of the most common volcanic gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), is not poisonous but nevertheless, it is extremely dangerous. As it is heavier than air it tends to accumulate in hollows in the ground, displacing the breathable air. Since it is invisible and has no taste or smell, people and animals are unable to notice that it is there and may suffocate. People have died in this way at the Boiling Lake in the Valley of Desolation in Dominica.
Active fumaroles occur in the crater of Mt. Liamuiga, along the coast below Brimstone Hill and along the base of Brimstone Hill.
For more information, see: http://www.oas.org/pgdm/hazmap/volcano/stk_volc.htm
Getting to the Fumaroles from Where Trail Terminates at Base of Crater
Once you have reached the bottom of the crater you will emerge into a grassy plain area. Walk straight out into the crater for about 300 feet. Turn 90 degrees to your left and begin to walk towards the woods. Your goal is to make it to the edge of the crater wall behind the woods in front of you which will be partially visible from where you are standing. Once at the woods, find an opening and begin walking through that woods in a straight line towards the crater wall. There is no marked trail through this woods so be sure to pack a machete.
As you progress deeper into the woods you will notice three things; one, the size quantity of the sulfur chunks will increase; two, you may or may not begin to smell the pungent odor of sulfur; and three, a milky colored streambed which banks look like gray clay. Once you reach that streambed, follow it uphill. Eventually the streambed will lead you into a rocky clearing.
The larger more active fumaroles are up the left branch of the stream, you will hear them long before you see them. The ones at the bottom are the most majestic, there are ones further up but they are smaller and less active.
Also make sure to venture up the right branch of the stream as well. Although small, there is an exceptionally loud fumarole along that streambed that sounds like a teapot whistling.
Things to Keep in Mind While Visiting the Vents
1. The steam and gas escaping from the ground is superheated far beyond the boiling point for water, it will burn you instantly if you make any contact with it.
2. The gases in this region are toxic and can prove fatal if breathed in at high enough concentrations. Keep visits brief and if you feel any abnormal symptoms while visiting vacate the area immediately.
3. The ground in this region is also exceptionally hot. You will easily be able to feel the heat through any sneaker or hiking boot. Absolutely no open toed shoes of any kind can be worn while visiting this region.
4. Avoid slipping in this area. The ground is loose and it is easy to fall. It is also loaded with hot gas and superheated steam. Any skin that makes contact with the ground could be be burned immediately.
5. Do not put your hands or any other body part in, on, or around the water in the stream or near, the vents. You can get a very painful burn in a fraction of a second.
Overall, this is an awesome place to visit but it is also brutally dangerous. It can be visited and admired safely but that requires you the visitor to exercise extreme caution. If you would not do it within three feet of a campfire, do not do it here.
Map and GPS Points of Interest
Google Maps Engine Link: https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zPhxi0e6Ldgs.kPhLh8XXGxRY