The Grand Etang Shoreline Trail Hike is a relatively easy one, wandering between two and three miles and taking about 1-1/2 to two hours roundtrip.
Grand Etang Lake is approximately 20 feet deep and 36 acres in area. The lake covers the caldera of an extinct volcano that last erupted between 15,000-25,000 years ago. Located at almost 1,800 feet, come prepared for a chilly wind and possibly rain. The best overall lake views come a short way into the hike.
Moving along the lake shore, you’ll walk through a palm brake dominated by fern trees and mountain palm (Euterpe palm). Above the palm break is a colorful forest of mahogany trees with orange, scarlet and yellow hibiscus growing on the trees. The mahogany was brought in from Jamaica after 1955’s Hurricane Janet. Besides helping reforest Grenada, the timber has a remarkable blue/green grain that makes outstanding furniture and handicrafts. It’s also sometimes used for fencing.
If you didn’t see any Mona monkeys hanging out at the food stands near the Park Centre, you’re almost certain to spot some around the lake. They are most active at sunrise and sunset as they swing through the forest canopy rich in staghorn ferns, wild orchids and epiphytes.
You also may spot nests of the red-necked pigeon in high trees; those small birds darting through the foliage are probably the Antillean crested hummingbird (males have a blue-green head crest) or the rufous-breasted (rust-colored) hummingbird.
Along the shoreline are cattle egrets, which migrated over from Africa and first appeared in Grenada around 1950; hooded tanagers (iridescent plumage with a black cap); and little blue herons. The symbol of Grenada’s national park system is the broad-winged hawk (brown and white with a banded tail), which likes to soar high over the water. The lake itself is slowly filling with reeds and may one day become merely a grassy marsh.