Posted February 26th, 2005, 12:30 AM
I don't want to discourage people from going to The Baths. It is a beautiful, one-of-a-kind experience that everyone should see for themselves. Children are fine; it will be an adventure for them. There are many people in their 60's and 70's who make it down the trail.
If your Mom has sufficient balance and mobility to go up and down stairs without using a handrail you will be perfectly fine on the trail. If your Mom has difficulty with stairs or uneven ground (more shuffles than walks), you will need to go very slow and help keep her steady in a few places. The hike down to the baths from the end of the road requires walking down a short gully (dry except of course when its raining). The trail is mostly hard dirt, although there are some places where there are rocks that you have to step down onto or around. There are also some places you have to walk on rocks with sand on them (possibly slippery). There are no handrails on the trail down. The hike will take an athletic person less than 5 minutes each way. Living in California, I have seen many tougher beach access trails. You can try the trail and turn back if you have to, spending time in the gift shop/restaurant at the top. If Mom is persisent and confident (just slow), I would try it; if she tends to become unsure and worry about slipping or falling, I would have to recommend against trying it. Perhaps there are some short dirt trails in your local park that you can try her out on before you decide.
Inside the baths, you have to duck walk in one place for about 10 feet, scamper up a large wet rock (with assist from a rope), and climb up/down several step-ladder-like contraptions.
If you think she would be able to climb up and down a ladder into a boat, that might be the better choice. The beaches are very nice without going into the Baths. Charters are offered from Totola (there have been some other posts in this group). Or, you can take the ferry from Totola to Virgin Gorda and take a jitney for a few dollars each way to the Baths.