We had planned on diving and hiking while in Saba and due to the weather, diving was looking less and less likely. We’d already decided that another trip to Saba would be in our future and were okay with waiting on diving until the next encounter. The hike to the top of Mt. Scenery was pretty non-negotiable for us. It hadn’t rained the night before (the only factor that would have made us second guess the hike) so we were in business. We left our hotel at around 9:30AM and headed out to Windwardside to make an initial stop at the Trail Shop.
Shearwater’s proprietor suggested that we borrow walking sticks for the hike and we took his advice. At the Trail Shop in town we were able to borrow them for free, and they also gifted us whistles, key chains and a guide to Mt. Scenery to take with us (people in Saba are truly out-of-this-world friendly). Walking sticks in hand and water bottles at the ready, we set off on our journey to the highest point in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. According to our guide book, the hike is about 2 1/2 hours round trip using the Mt. Scenery Trail both ways and reaches a peak of 2855 feet. We were moving fairly quickly and it took us closer to three hours using the Mt. Scenery Trail up and then Bud’s Trail back down. I would realistically allot 3 – 4 hours to do the hike at a leisurely pace, including stops.
Mt. Scenery Trail
As a preface to anyone planning on doing this hike, two things to know: a) this is a pretty vertical hike and it’s all steps so it’s a serious leg and glute workout, and 2) walking sticks are essential. We were skeptical about taking walking sticks but the hike would have been an entirely different experience without them. Some parts of the trail are bit muddy and some steps are very steep. The walking stick helps you pinpoint your next step, propel you and stabilize you a bit. If you have joint problems, there are other hikes on Saba that may be better suited to you — this entire hike is made up of stairs. 1064 of them.
There are 3 stops along the climb to the top of Mt. Scenery, providing rest stops every 20 – 25 minutes or so (based on our pace). By the third stop, the views of Windwardside far below were spectacular. As far as we could tell, we were the only people on the trail. But for one donkey, one cow, a few rogue birds and a couple of people who owned homes along the way, we didn’t see anyone else (much different than hiking in a more touristed region). The hike is incredibly lush and the trail is surrounded by oversized plants and trees reminiscent of Jurassic Park. Fun fact: Saba was the backdrop for Skull Island in the original King Kong.
Bud’s Mountain Trail
Bud’s Mountain Trail was recommended for the way back down the mountain. The path contains fewer steps but quite a bit more mud than the more traveled trails. More importantly, it provided us different scenery. The hike up was beautiful — lush rainforest with some stunning plants and fruit trees along the way. Bud’s Trail was different: still lush, but more grassy flat areas and some extremely mucky sections. There were a number of times that we questioned whether we were actually on a trail since there wasn’t much signage to point us in the right direction. We knew that at the very least we were going downhill which was the right direction.
Bud’s Mountain was alleged to take an additional 20 or so minutes as compared with the traditional Mt. Scenery Trail but the lack of steps helped us move along a bit more quickly. Part of me thinks that the steps are a bit easier in the sense that they’re less muddy and a bit more trafficked (at least you know you’re on the right path), but the steep staircase puts a lot of pressure on your knees during the downhill trek.
We made it down largely unscathed but for a few scratches and bruises from a couple of brief tumbles. Sweaty, muddy and undoubtedly a bit stinky, we had completed our hike by the early afternoon and returned our walking sticks to the Trail Shop where we began our journey. To be sure, the hike is strenuous, but if you have it in you it’s worth every second. Take it all in on the way up — everything’s gorgeously green and feels totally untouched and undiscovered. If you can go on a clear day, the views from the top are stunning!
Have you done the hike to the top of Mt. Scenery? What did you think?