North of Vieux Fort and west of Micound near Mahaut, the Des Cartiers Rainforest is the most lush and most hidden rainforest on the island. It is truly a botanical paradise.
To reach the rainforest from the east coast just north of Micoud, head inland on a secondary road (there should be a sign for Dees Cartiers) towards Anbre and Mahaut for six miles. There is a Interpretive Center at the trailhead that is sporatically staffed. Its about a 1.5 hour drive from Castries to Micoud and on to the trailhead.
This well-marked, 4km loop is a strenuous trek through verdant forest along an old military road. Prepare to see endemic wildlife of St Lucia and keep a sharp eye out for the rare St Lucia Parrot (Jacquot). This mostly flat trail skirts the Canalles River and connects with the Edmund Trail on the north side of the loop, which leads to the west coast.
A permit is requried to hike on forest reserve trails. A professional guide may also be required, and is strongly recommended in any case. Both are easy to obtain for a small fee from the Forest & Lands Department at (758) 450-2231 or 450-2078, or by contacting the National Trust at (758) 450-5005. It is a punishable offense under the Forest Soil And Conservation Ordinance Act to attempt to access the forest reserve trails without a permit and, when required, a guide.
A guide is not currently required, but check at the Interpretive Center.
Note, if you plan to use a GPS device on St Lucia, the MAP DATUM is DOS 3 Lighthouse 1955 St Lucia.
Overall, Des Cartiers Trail is the 2nd most popular hiking trail of all 6 hikes in St Lucia.