Le Pouce Southern Route
ElevationAscent: 1,168' 356 m
Descent: -1,166' -355 m
High: 2,434' 742 m
Low: 1,267' 386 m
GradeAvg Grade: 16% (9°)
Max Grade: 35% (19°)
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“A fantastic run with excellent views the whole way to the top of the third highest peak in Mauritius.”— Karl W
The trail begins by continuing in the same direction as the road towards the northeast, but now as a 4X4 farm road between fields of sugar cane. The road bends a little towards the northwest and gains some easy elevation. You'll come to a random small gazebo thing right after which the trail departs the farm road. After this the trail gets rockier and a little steeper, but still resembles an old 4X4 road. It bends the the northwest and enters thick shady forest. You'll gain some ground and turn some switchbacks in the forest. Soon you'll exit the trees and the views get great. The trail heads west along massive rock-cuts for the old road that offer clear views to the east and south. Berthelot Peak to the south is especially prominent.
The trail will bend around the western end of Le Pouce on a wide cut-out-switchback. After this you'll get great views to Snail Rock and behind it Port Louis. You'll encounter the route to Le Pouce from Port Louis in the meadows shortly. Follow the now-singletrack trail through thick brush to the east. This section of trail is easy going, but the clay-like dirt can be slick when wet. You'll get a few excellent view points, including a nice grassy field just before the final ascent begins that is perfect for a rest/snack. Pieter Both, the second tallest peak with it's famous balanced-rock summit, is clearly visible from here.
The final ascent up the "thumb" (Le Pouce means The Thumb, FYI) is where the trail gets challenging. It can be very narrow and steep. Some sections will require small amounts of scrambling to get over rocky ledges. Some parts head along catwalks with quite a bit of exposure. However, it's over before you know it and you'll be at the top! The summit offers incredible 360 degree views of nearly the entire island. Port Louis is clear to the west, Pieter Both to the east, numerous peaks to the north and south, and even Piton de la Petite Riviere Noire is visible far to the south on clear days.
The downside to the summit is that it is very small with very steep edges. It can feel crowded with as few as six people, and anymore than 10 might be uncomfortable. The final route up the summit is also too narrow to provide anywhere to "wait" for the summit. If you see a big group headed up before you, you may want to just hang out at the meadow overlook for a bit until they come back down.
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