Petite Soufriere – Rosalie Trail


Petite Soufrière is a small village on the east coast of Dominica. The name is misleading as it suggests that there would be some sulphur springs in the village or in its vicinity. That is not, however, the case.


The road from Castle Bruce to south ends at Petite Soufrière. The 2.08 kilometers between it and Rosalie is the last part of Dominica's east coast that is still lacking a motorable road. A beautiful morning hike starts ideally from Roche Marqué cape to get to Rosalie.  Walking to the top of the ridge overlooking Petite Soufriere the hiker gets a grand view down towards the east coast, the rugged bays and steep headlands plunging into the Atlantic Ocean.


Petite Soufriere was one of those areas, which because of the topography, escaped being part of the mainstream plantation structure. It developed as one of the peasant proprietor communities producing mainly coffee, cocoa, cassava and other root crops. It was settled mainly by petit blanc smallholders from Martinique; ancestors of the present day Durand, Coipel and Toussaint families who now occupy the area and who had mixed with their small numbers of African slaves and neighbourhood Caribs to form the Creole mix.  For the mean time this stretch of the original coastal walking road is one of the last surviving examples of what the walking trails around the coast of Dominica used to be like.


Rosalie estate is situated on the east coast on the banks of the Rosalie River. It was one of the largest estates on the island, totaling 2,081 acres, but since the 1960s much of it has been sub-divided and sold off. It produced sugar, cocoa, limes, bananas and coconuts at various times in its history. The ruins of an aqueduct and sugar works are still standing and the site of the old estate house can be seen on the hill above the works near to the modern estate house. The first British owners included Governor William Stuart and in the 19th 20th century the Johnson family. A maroon attack on the estate buildings under the maroon chief Balla took place here in December 1785.  After emancipation a village developed around the estate yard and there was, for a time, a police station, school and church, but when new owners, Messrs. Leach and Tabor, took over in the 1950s the land was reclaimed and the villagers had to dismantle their houses and disperse to the settlements at Grand Fond and Riviere Cyrique. The church was abandoned and fell into ruin, but in the 1990s it was restored and is now the site of the FMI Retreat Centre.


Recommencement of phase two of the Rosalie to Petite Soufriere road public road construction resumed on March 28, 2011 and is on-going.  The construction of the twenty-five million EC dollar new road is a grant funded project and covers 4.16 kilometers of road work.  Photos of the magnificent views along the trail are below.



Text Credit

Bethel SDA Church

Dr. Lennox Honeychurch

GIS, Government of Dominica