There are some really spectacular views to be had from the many overlooks we have here on St. John. Some are easy to get to, like the popular Trunk Bay Overlook. Some aren’t so easy, but getting there is half the fun. If you want to personally experience the above overlook from More Hill, you can, but as I already said, “it ain’t easy”.
I haven’t been out there since April of 2010 and I imagine the trail hasn’t gotten any better, unless there are some determined hikers out there that have continued to improve the trail. If you want to find it, better bring a GPS and some clippers and be prepared for some catch ‘n’ keep along the way. The trail is marked as the red outlined number 23 on the Trail Bandit Map, which can be downloaded free or purchased by going to the Trail Bandit’s website
Click here for more information about this “St. John Off The Beaten Track” trail
St. John Live Music Schedule – Wednesday 11/14
Rascio on Steel Pan
6:00 – 8:00
Flip Flop Rock
Cruz Bay Prime
7:00 – 10:00
8:00 – 11:00
Sun Dog Cafe
Wednesday Night Jam
Lauren & Mark Wallce
If you only have enough time on St. John to hike one trail, then the Cinnamon Bay Self-Guiding Trail is the trail for you. Also, because the trail is relatively short, flat and shady, it’s a perfect choice for those who would like to experience a taste of the St. John interior, but who might be put off by the prospect of a long hike on the often hilly and rugged terrain characteristic of the St. John forest. As an added bonus, the Virgin Islands National Park has placed a series of wonderfully informative signs along the trail covering everything from history and culture to nature and environmental concerns. Read more
I’ve been noticing a disparity between the NOAA and Weather Underground sites with NOAA being consistently “glass half full” and Weather Underground “glass half empty”. Personally I prefer the NOAA take, which means it’s time to change the weather link on my main website
Estate Rustenberg Ruins
For those of you who would like to experience a St. John Off the Beaten Track experience, but would rather not exert themselves too much, a visit to the Rustenberg ruins would be an ideal choice. It’s a short walk along a level trail shaded by aromatic bay rum trees. The ruins are extensive and beautiful in their natural surroundings.
To get there, park across from the Cinnamon Bay trailhead on Centerline Road and walk up the road west, towards Cruz Bay, where you should find the trailhead, which may be more or less obvious depending on climatic conditions. Another alternative is to enter the forest about 50 yards or so and walk uphill until you reach the trail on the ridge and go left on the trail until you get to the ruins.
This full length feature documentary is a a profound, alternative look at the global bee crisis. Taking us on a journey through the catastrophic disappearance of bees and the mysterious world of the beehive, this engaging and ultimately uplifting film weaves an unusual and dramatic story of the heartfelt struggles of beekeepers, scientists and philosophers including Michael Pollan, Gunther Hauk and Vandana Shiva.
This film takes us on a pilgrimage around the world, 10,000 years of beekeeping is unveiled, highlighting how our historic and sacred relationship with bees has been lost due to highly mechanized industrial practices. The film goes on to reveal both the problems and the solutions in renewing a culture in balance with nature.
Join Mr. Smalls and other St. John bee keepers and learn about these wonderful insects that provide us with sweet honey and more.
Spectacular Views – Relatively Easy Hike
The Europa Point Trail, which is the first spur trail off of the Lameshur Bay Trail, leads to a vantage point high up on the point from where you can enjoy beautiful views of St. John’s south shore.
This is a great hike for those that are looking for a relatively easy hiking experience. Begin the hike at the eastern entrance to the Lameshur Bay Trail, where you’ll find the ruins of a hundred year old bay rum factory and an older sugar mill.
Here the Lameshur Bay Trail runs through a low lying area adjacent top the shoreline. It’s easy going, flat ground and lots of shade. You’ll pass by an old tamarind tree, on your left, split in two by lightning years ago.
Not far after passing the tamarind tree and before the trail begins its incline you’ll come to the entrance of the Europa Point Trail, now marked by a trail sign.
The approximately one-quarter-mile Europa Point Trail runs through a flat dry forest environment before rising into cactus scrub and guinea grass.
The trail ends at a lookout next to a narrow gorge.
Yesterday I hiked one of my all time favorite trails, the White Cliffs. As this is an unofficial trail within the National Park, it is not maintained by park personnel. This is a beautiful trail with outstanding views and provides an interesting alternative route to Reef Bay as well as really cool and challenging loop using the Lameshur Bay Trail for your return to the trailhead .
I wanted to see the condition of the trail after last summer’s collection of severe weather events. The trail was still in fairly good condition and in most parts easily followed. Of course a Trail Bandit map or even better a Trail Bandit map loaded GPS will always be a good friend.
It looks like as log as some hikers continue to use the trail on a somewhat regular basis, it will remain open, even better if you were to bring along a small clippers to cut back the unfriendly catch and keep, which appears from time to time along the trail.
The White Cliffs Trail begins at the Lameshur Bay Trail. Walk along the flats past the big old tamarind tree that looks like it was split in half by lightning some many years ago. You’ll pass the entrance to the Europa Point Trail, which to my pleasant surprise is now marked by a trail sign. Shortly after the Lameshur Bay Trail begins to rise, you’ll come to the Europa Bay Trail, which you’ll follow past a beautiful salt pond and on to the Europa Bay Beach.
Walk along the beach almost to the point at the end where you’ll find a narrow trail leading into the bush. This steep trail will take you to the ridge top from where there are some excellent views down into the Europa Bay Salt Pond, the Europa Bay Beach and onward to the east and south.
From the ridge, you can also walk out to the eastern point for views of the southern coastline of St. John out to Ram Head Point.
The trail leads through the forest on the ridge top eventually taking you through a guinea grass covered passage through some large rocks. After passing this the trail runs right along the edge of ridge with constant dramatic views of the coastline below.
The trail descends into the eastern portion of the rocky beach at Reef Bay.
To get to the Lameshur Bay Trail from here, walk west on the beach for as far as you can. At some point you’ll need to either get wet or head into the lowlands and make your way through the mangroves either back to the beach from where you can easily access the short trail to the Reef bay Sugar Factory ruins or inland to the Horsemill area of the ruins,
Then its a 1.1 mile easy going hike up the relatively flat section of the Reef Bay Trail to the more difficult 1.8 mile Lameshur Bay Trail, with it initial hill climb back to the starting point.
Challenging, but lots of fun. Let’s keep this trail open…
Despite the heavy rains, the Reef Bay Trail for the most part remained in fairly good condition, at least up to the Petroglyph and Lameshur Bay intersections.
The use of strategically placed stone culverts to deflect the water to the side of the trail and thus preventing the erosion that would be caused if the water just was allowed to run down the trail, did their jobs well.
This is not to say that you didn’t have to cross some rapidly running guts that were flowing over the trail.
It was definitely worth the effort as the Petroglyph waterfall was spectacular!
It was so good that I decided to brave the steep, muddy, slippery path that leads to the top of the falls and to the bottom of another waterfall that appeared to be about twice the height of the Petroglyph Falls.
Video of waterfall located just above the Petroglyph Falls
Chocolate Hole, St. John US Virgin Islands (USVI)
Notwithstanding the Flash Flood Warning and the high probability of rain, my weather forecast system of looking out at the sky served me well and yesterday’s hike was rain free.
Last night however, it rained like crazy with thunder and lightning and high winds. So far this morning so good, but it sure looks like rain. Unless it looks better later on today, I’ll probably cancel my planned visit to Jost Van Dyke.
Being that I’m in the process of another book reprint for St. John Off The Beaten Track, I’ve been revisiting the island’s trails to check for changes since the last printing. I’ve also been concerned about trail conditions after the winds of Hurricane Earl and the flooding from Hurricane Otto. Following are reports from last week’s St. John trail hikes.
Francis Bay Trail The Francis Bay Trail remains in good condition with the exception that part of the new boardwalk constructed for handicap access is now under water. This is undoubtedly due to the unusual amount of rain we’ve experienced lately and will correct itself in the coming months.
Maria Hope Road The Maria Hope Trail is still in good condition even though there been no improvements or maintenance done on the trail by National Park contractors. The one good overlook has filled in with vegetation and although still providing views they’re not quite as outstanding as before.
Guinea Grass (photo by Yelena Rogers)
Like the Maria Hope Road, the Tektite Trail remains in good condition despite lack of maintenance. The sections of trail passing trough fields of guinea grass are beginning to become overgrown and may be difficult to follow in the future if the trail does not continue to be well used by hikers.
The L’Esperance Trail is also in good condition as are the L’Esperance and Seiban ruins cleared by volunteers last year. These estates, however are beginning to show signs of being reclaimed by bush if a campaign of maintenance by either contractors or volunteers is not initiated.
It appears that the Virgin Islands National Park is doing some work on the Cinnamon Bay Self Guiding Trail. Concrete pathways are in the process of being installed, making access easier and safer and wheelchair friendly.
bay rum tree lined trail
Flowing gut along the Cinnamon Bay Self Guiding Trail
Sunset from the overlook on north face of Caneel Hill
Viewing Tower at Caneel hill Summit
I usually don’t like the way photos come out on days when the Sahara dust makes the sky gray instead of blue and obscures the contrast between the white clouds and the background sky. Nonetheless, I brought my camera with me on a late afternoon hike up the Caneel Hill Trail.
With all the rain we’ve had lately, St. John is as green as can be, but walking on the trail, I was still amazed at how much the bush had grown. The Guinea grass, in particular, had sprouted up to a height of more than three feet almost obscuring the trail in some areas; very lush and very beautiful.
Sunset from the overlook on the North Face of the Caneel Hill Trail
I arrived at the summit of Caneel Hill in less than a half an hour and shot some photos from the viewing tower, none of which amounted to anything worth saving. Returning down the trail, I stopped at the overlook a hundred yards or so down from the hilltop, where there’s a wooden bench and a north view comparable, if not even better, to the view from the tower, especially now that the overlook was cleared thanks to Jeff Cabot and his volunteer trail crew.
From this new angle I could get a clear shot of the horizon and as the sun sank lower I could see that even the Sahara dust was working in my favor, filling the late afternoon St. John sky some beautiful shades of red, yellow and orange.
When I returned home, I was happy to find some pretty nice sunset shots worthy of being shared with those who didn’t happen to be at the north face overlook just shy of the summit of Caneel Hill on the Caribbean island of St. John in the United States Virgin Islands, at sunset which included every single human being on the planet Earth … except for me.
Late in the afternoon yesterday, I took a walk on the Lind Point Trail. It looked like a good day for sunset photos and it was. It has been raining lately so all the trees and plants were green and lush. I walked down to the beach at Salomon and over to the Lind Point Battery Overlook and was able to get some pretty nice photos.
The bad news was the mosquitoes. They were fierce. The day before I battled them at Maho Bay after a late afternoon swim and they were bad, but this was something else. A friendly couple came while I was photographing and offered me some mosquito repellent, which I gladly accepted, but I was afraid to put my camera down for fear that the mosquito dem would carry it off.