Maria Hope Trail

St. John Virgin Islands Trails: Maria Hope
View from Maria Hope Trail Overlook

Now that the remainder of the Big Maho Bay land has been turned over to the Virgin Islands National Park, rangers are already working with Friends of the National Park in clearing the property’s Maria Hope Trail and improving parking at the beach.

The Maria Hope Trail follows an old Danish road that runs between the Josie Gut Estate on the Reef Bay Trail and Maho Bay on the north shore.

 History of the Maria Hope Road

Until early in the nineteenth century, people couldn’t travel all the way from east to west on what was then called Konge Vey (King’s Road) and which is now known as Centerline Rd or Route 10. The road was divided in two by a gorge located at the saddle of the Maho Bay Valley on the north and the Reef Bay Valley on the south. This gorge was known as the defile and was impassable by donkey cart or horseback.

When travelers on horseback or wagon going between the Coral Bay side of St. John and the Cruz Bay side came to the defile, they had two options:

Option 1: There were corrals for horses on both sides of the defile. They could leave their horses in the corral on one side, cross the defile on foot and arrange to take another horse to continue east.

Option 2: They could take the Maria Hope Road down the Maho Bay Valley to the north and continue east on the north shore.

Around the year 1780, the defile was filled in by the owner of the Old Works Estate, Peter Wood, and the two sides of the island were connected by one road for the first time.

When Centerline Road was constructed along the mountain ridge, hundreds of tons of fill were brought in to make the road passable by motor vehicle. In the process, the Old Works Estate and the uppermost section of the Maria Hope Road were completely covered over with the exception of the horsemill wall the horsemill wall, which can be seen as soon as you descend the stairs to the Reef Bay Trail.

The ruins of Maria Hope Estate lie just about 200 feet from Centerline Road at the trail entrance to the Maria Hope Trail. Access to the ruins is provided by a trail going east and up just as you enter the Maria Hope Trailhead…. Read more

Excerpted from St. John Off The Beaten Track

St. John and Virgin Islands News

A Major Addition to Virgin Islands Park

Virgin Islands National Park – which already encompasses 60 percent of the tiny Caribbean island of St. John — just got a little bigger.

The beach at Maho Bay and its surrounding hillside recently was sold to the National Park Service in a $2.5 million deal, the Trust for Public Land announced. It’s the park’s largest addition since 1956, when the philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller, hoping to preserve the island paradise he fell in love with, donated more than 5,000 acres toward its creation

Organizers Seek Input on Plan to Control Invasive Lionfish

By Susan Ellis — January 8, 2014

During the three years after their first sighting in the territory in 2008, about 800 lionfish were taken from the waters around St. Croix. In 2012, the number had grown to between 7,000 and 10,000 fish, but according to research the infestation may be leveling off.

At the end of 2012, members of dive and fishing groups on St. Croix estimated they had removed 7,000 lionfish that year, according to Anthony Mastroianni of Lionfish Safari, a private non-profit group. Jenn Travis, project coordinator and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration coral fellow, said local fishermen could account for another 3,000 fish.

On Wednesday, the Friends of the East End Marine Park, a non-profit organization, hosted a public meeting, attended by a handful of stakeholders, at You Are Here Bar and Grille to review and update the Lionfish Response Plan, written by The Nature Conservancy in 2009.

The updated comprehensive plan, with input from public forums and a written survey, outlines goals to address control and removal of the fish, education and outreach, research and monitoring as well as marketing and communications.

“If we lose the reefs – the coral – we lose the sea grass beds, we lose the sea turtles,” Travis said….

… The Pacific Lionfish was first discovered in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida in 1992. Its spines are venomous but when removed, the fish is edible. Since 1992, the marine predator has migrated to South America and has infested some areas, like the Bahamas, with unmanageable numbers.

The lionfish endangers reef ecology and the fish industry by eating juvenile fish, octopus, squid, shrimp and lobster. They are prolific and adaptable. Mature females can lay 30,000 eggs every four days and they can live up to 15 years.

Lionfish have been spotted at a various depths – from a dozen inches of water to more than 1,000 feet.

As the waters become infested with lionfish, there are fewer fish to feed residents. Tourism suffers because fewer people visit the territory to dive and snorkel. The victim species negatively affect the oceans’ ecology and impacts recreation and commercial interests…. read more

St. John Weather

Scattered showers, mainly before noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 81. East wind 21 to 23 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

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