Forest Trek 2017

General Information about Forest Trek 2017

Gourie Forest Management Area

Level of Difficulty: 7-Participants must be fit

The eighth staging of Forest Trek scheduled for Saturday, March 18, 2017, is a 10 KM cross-country hike through the Gourie Forest Management Area in Manchester.

This year the Forestry Department offers two transportation options for participants who sign up for the group or individual packages.

1.    Transportation included

2.    Transportation excluded

Persons who choose the transportation included option will be transported to Gourie and from Gourie on the day. Participants will meet the buses at the Forestry Department, 173 Constant Spring Road, St. Andrew , where parking is provided free of charge. All hikers must gather at the Check Point located in the Parking Area at 5:30 a.m. At the Check Point, participants will be boarded on buses and dispatched to Gourie for the start of the hike.

Those who select the transportation excluded option will meet us at Gourie, which is about 10 minutes by road, from the town of Christiana. Parking is provided at the Coleyville Camp Site and Bryce Church play field which are a few metres away from Gourie. Hikers are invited to meet us at Gourie at 8:30 a.m. for the start of the hike.

On the walk through the forest, hikers will enjoy picturesque views of the natural forest and breathtaking limestone rocks.  The trail will take hikers pass the Gourie Cave which has a river running through it and is said to be the longest known cave in the island. After the hike through the forest, hikers will be able to plant a tree and also get a peek at the newly refurbished cabins that will form part of an ecotourism package to be offered by the Forestry Department in the very near future.

After lunch, hikers may relax and enjoy the cool Manchester breeze before boarding the buses for the return journey. Prizes will also be available for participants to win after they have completed the trail.

Purpose of the Hike

The main aim of the hike is to increase public awareness and encourage a greater appreciation for forests in Jamaica. The Trek will take participants into the forest to see and experience its environment first hand and also to contribute to its resources by participating in a small tree planting exercise. 

About the Gourie Forest Management Area

The Gourie Forest Management Area is situated in the central plateau at an average elevation of 840 metres (2,750 feet) and is located about 3.2 km (2 miles) to the north of Christiana.

The area has an average annual rainfall of approximately 1780 mm (70 inches) and mean annual temperature of 20º C (68º F). The Forest Management Area is underlain with yellow and white limestone.

The earliest history of Gourie goes back to about 1890 when the present block of 107 hectares, now owned by Government, formed a part of a property owned by the Webb family of Christiana. The forest area was then under virgin forest cover of Santa Maria, White, Red and Cherry Bullets, Broadleaf, Sweetwood and several other species common to the Cockpit area.

When the Forestry Department took over the management of Gourie, the site was severely degraded and most of the original Wet Limestone forest, which was similar to that of the Cockpit Country, had been cleared due to years of cutting for timber and clearing for agriculture.

The Forestry Department first began reforesting Gourie in 1942, and the plantation forests were established mainly by trial and error using a wide variety of tree species. Over the years, Blue Mahoe, Eucalyptus, Silky Oak, Santa Maria, Cassia and Caribbean Pine have been planted and of these, Caribbean pine has proved the most successful.

In the 1970s, the Forestry Department established a forest camp at Gourie with the construction of three cabins; these cabins were made available to the general public for overnight rentals and longer stays.

For the past year, the Agency has been focused on developing various activities and renovating the cabins that will form part of the ecotourism package to be offered to the public.

Registration

Registration for Forest Trek 2017 will open on Monday, February 6, 2017 and close on Tuesday, February 28 or as soon as the quota of 400 hikers is reached.

For this year’s trek, participants can choose to include transportation in their package or they can provide their own transportation.  If you choose the transportation provided by the Agency, registration fee for groups is $4,200 per person and for individuals $4,500. If individuals or groups opt to provide their own transport, the cost is $3,800 per person.

Methods of payment include company cheques, cash, debit/credit card and direct deposit. Company cheques should be made payable to the Forestry Department. Please refer to respective registration forms for more details.

For persons registering outside of the Corporate Area, you may contact the Forestry Department to find out how you can make payments without having to travel into Kingston.

Group Participation

Companies, Government Agencies, Community-Based Organizations, fitness groups, and other groups may submit a team comprising of no less than ten (10) persons. Each member of the group must complete and sign an Individual Registration Form and a Participant Waiver Form to be submitted along with the Group Registration Form.

A team captain should be named on the form, through which and to whom all information relating to the hike will be sent for dissemination to the team members.

Individual Participation

Each participant must complete and submit both the Individual Registration Form as well as the Participant Waiver Form.

The deadline for the submission of forms and the payment of registration fees for all participants is Tuesday, February 28. Payments may be made Monday to Thursday, 9 am- 4 pm and on Friday between 9 am and 3 pm. 

N.B. All Registration Fees are Non-Refundable.