Virgin Islands National Park

Hiking

St. Johns is not a huge place, and the trails don't cover a great distance—a couple miles at the most. But within that length limitation, hiking at Virgin Islands National Park can be a diverse experience. Trails range from easy walks to difficult climbs, from well-maintained to brushy. Guided park hikes of Reef Bay Valley (five hours) provide opportunities to visit mysterious-in-origin petroglyphs (rock carvings) and the ruins of St. John's last active sugar mill. And don't forget you're in the tropics: paradise is an idea, but the sun, heat, bugs and thorny vegetation are real. Wear loose clothing and bring along the sun block, insect repellant and lots of water.

GORP has pulled together a number coded trail map above...

North Shore Trails

1 Lind Point Trail
(1.1 miles, 1 hour)
Connects the National Park Visitor Center at Cruz Bay with Honeymoon Beach at Caneel Bay. Trail ascends 0.4 miles to scenic Lind Point overlook (elev. 160 ft.). At 0.7 miles, a side trail leads to Salomon Beach. Open dry forest with cactus scrub environment.

2 Caneel Hill Trail
(2.4 miles, 2 hours)
Joins Cruz Bay village with Northshore Road entrance to Caneel Bay. A 0.8-mile climb from Cruz Bay leads to scenic overlook atop Caneel Hill (elev. 719 ft.). Trail continues to Margaret Hill (elev. 848 feet) then descends to Northshore Road through a forest environment.

3 Caneel Hill Spur Trail
(0.8 mile, 40 minutes)
Starts from Lind Point trail. Crosses Northshore Road at point overlooking Cruz Bay and Caneel Bay. Joins the Caneel Hill trail at 0.4 miles.

4 Water Catchment Trail
(1 mile, 30 minutes)
A forest-canopied trail between Centerline Road and the Northshore Road. Trail joins the Caneel Hill trail over a portion of its route.

5 Turtle Point Trail
(0.6 mile, 30 minutes)
Trail begins at north end of Caneel Bay Plantation. Hikers wishing to use this trail should enter the property through the main gate and register at the front desk.

6 Peace Hill
(0.1 mile, 10 minutes)
Scenic grassy overlook with old sugar mill tower and figure of Christ. 2.8 miles from Cruz Bay just off the Northshore Road.

7 Cinnamon Bay Self-Guiding Trail
(0.5 mile, 1 hour)
Shady, signed, history-nature loop trail passes through old sugar factory site and native tropical trees. Trail begins a few yards east of entrance road into Cinnamon Bay Campground.

8 Cinnamon Bay Trail
(1.1 miles, 1 hour)
Beginning 100 yards east of the entrance road into Cinnamon Bay Campground, this forested trail follows an old Danish plantation road uphill to its junction with Centerline Road. The Reef Bay trailhead is 0.9 miles east of this junction along Centerline Road.

9 Francis Bay Trail
(0.5 mile, 30 minutes)
Begins at the west end of the Many Creek paved road. Trail passes through a dry scrub forest, past the historic Francis Bay Estate House and onto the beach. A mangrove forest and brackish pond provide good bird habitat. A boardwalk provides for easy viewing of pond birdlife. Swimming and snorkeling are favored activities from the beach. No lifeguard service. Caution: Avoid deep-water passage of Mary Point because of strong currents and boat traffic.

10 Annaberg School Area
(0.2 mile, 15 minutes)
This trail leads to ruins of one of the Caribbean's oldest public school houses. The site was stabilized and an exhibit placed here by the St. John Historical Society in 1987. From the school, you'll have fine views of Mary Point, Leinster Bay, and Tortola. A nearby 0.2-mile trail adjoins the paved Leinster Bay Road. Mangrove forest and shallow reef flats provide good wildlife viewing opportunities with land crabs, wading birds and marine organisms generally viewable. A self-guiding walking tour of the Annaberg Sugar Mill Ruins is a short distance up the hill from the area's picnic site. A scenic overlook from these ruins provides a fine view of the British Virgin Islands.

11 Leinster Bay Trail/Road
(0.8 mile, 30 minutes)
Follow the old Danish Road eastward along the seashore from the Annaberg picnic site to Waterlemon Bay. Good boat anchorage and swimming. Snorkeling is excellent around Waterlemon Cay.

12 Johnny Horn Trail
(1.8 miles, 2 hours)
Passing through sunny, upland dry forest and scrub, this historic track begins at Waterlemon Bay and crosses the ridges southward to the paved road at Emmaus Moravian Church in Coral Bay.

13 Brown Bay Trail
(1.6 miles, 2 hours)
Trail starts from the ridge saddle 0.7 mile out of Johnny Horn trail from Waterlemon Bay. Trail branches to the east and descends through a dry thorn scrub and open hot valley. For a short distance trail borders Brown Bay and then ascends over ridge overlooking Hurricane Hole. Trail ends at the East End Road 1.2 miles east of the Emmaus Moravian Church. Caution: This trail is not maintained.

South Shore Trails

14 Reef Bay Trail
(2.2 miles, 2 hours)
Trail begins 4.9 miles east of Cruz Bay on Centerline Road. The trail descends through a shady, moist forest and a dry forest, both of which incorporate a wide variety of plant life. The visible remains of four sugar estates and more recently abandoned farming communities are along the way.

A small picnic site and pit toilets are in the vicinity of the Reef Bay sugar mill near the beach. No lifeguards. Guided hikes are provided by National Park Service personnel on a scheduled basis along this trail. Check with the Park Service Visitor Center in Cruz Bay if you would like to join a tour.

15 Petroglyph Trail
(0.2 mile, 15 minutes)
Trail starts 1.5 miles down the Reef Bay trail. The many rock carvings by the pools are attributed to early Arawak Indians.

16 Lameshur Bay Trail
(1.5 miles, 1 1/4 hours)
Trail connects Lameshur Bay with Reef bay trail. Open dry forest hiking. 1.2 miles from the Reef Bay junction a spur trail leads 0.3 mile to a salt pond and coral rubble beach at Europa Bay.

17 Yawzi Point Trail
(0.3 mile, 20 minutes)
Trail leads from Little Lameshur Bay Road (near beach) through thorny scrub vegetation to isolated coves. Years ago people afflicted with the disease yaws had to live in isolation on this narrow peninsula.

18 Bordeaux Mountain Trail
(1.2 miles, 1 1/2 hours)
This steep, open to the sun trail connects the shady Bordeaux Mountain Road with Lameshur Bay 1,000 feet below. Centerline Road is 1.7 miles northwest of the trail junction with the Bordeaux Road.

19 Salt Pond Bay Trail
(0.2 mile, 15 minutes)
Trail begins at the parking area 3.9 miles south of Coral Bay. Hike graded trail down to Salt Pond Beach and picnic area through arid cactus scrub land. Good swimming and snorkeling, chemical toilet. Caution: area is hot and sunny. Extra drinking water and hat are recommended. No lifeguards.

20 Drunk Bay Trail
(0.3 mile, 20 minutes)
Walk to the south end of Salt Pond Bay Beach and turn to the east following the Drunk Bay trail along the northside of the salt pond. Some island residents harvest the accumulated salt during May and June. Note the windswept, stunted plant growth as you approach rocky Drunk Bay Beach. Caution: dangerous swimming conditions.

21 Ram Head Trail
(1 mile, 1 hour)
Trail starts at the south end of Salt Pond Bay Beach. This rocky, exposed trail leads to a unique blue cobble beach and then switchbacks up the hillside to its crest 200 feet above the Caribbean Sea. Magnificent windswept scenery. Danger: Watch your footing near the cliff edge.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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