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Hiking

Most visitors come to the Blue Mountains for hiking. Because of rains, the worst months for hiking are May, June, September, and October. Of the more than 30 known trails in the Blue Mountains, only two-thirds are likely to be passable at any given time.

At no point do we recommend that you hike alone in the Blue Mountains. Weather conditions can change rapidly, and hiking maps are, in general, very poor; it is easy to lose your direction. Security is also a major concern for the unaccompanied hiker on the Kingston side of the mountains. A guide will not only clear an overgrown path for you, but may keep you out of harm's way. (To retain the services of a guide, ask at the tourist office.)

The most popular and scenic hike begins at Whitfield Hall (tel. 876/878-0514), a high-altitude hostel and coffee estate about 10km (6 1/4 miles) north of the hamlet of Mavis Bank. Reaching the summit of Blue Mountain Peak requires between 4 and 5 hours from here each way. You can also take much shorter hikes if you don't want to see everything. En route, hikers pass through acres of coffee plantations and forest, with temperatures cooler than one might expect and high humidity encouraging lush vegetation. Along the way, watch for bird life such as hummingbirds, many species of warblers, rufous-throated solitaires, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, and Greater Antillean pewees.

Dress in layers and bring bottled water. If you opt for a 2am departure to watch the sunrise from atop the peak, carry a flashlight as well. Sneakers are usually adequate, though many climbers bring hiking boots. Be aware that even during the "dry" season (Dec-Mar), rainfall is common; during the "rainy" season (the rest of the year), rain, fog, and mist are all frequent.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.