St. John Trails: Camelberg Trail

St. John Virgin Islands Trails: Camelberg trail
Camelberg Trail

Camelberg Trail, St. John US Virgin Islands

Some intrepid St. John explorers turned me on to this not so well known hike, which follows an old Danish Road below Camelberg Mountain, as shown on Peter Oxholm’s map of St. John, published some 200 years ago.

The old Danish Road is apparent, but overgrown, the trail over the road is rough, maintained apparently by the few hikers that use it. Although the trail is fairly obvious and is marked in placed by ribbons, I used a GPS and a good map to reassure me of my location. An excellent map of St. John, containing most of the trails, as well as the old Oxholm Map of St. John can be purchased for the low price of $2.00 each or downloaded free of charge at http://www.trailbandit.org/store.htm

At first you will be following a mountain ridge, on a relatively flat forest trail shaded mostly by native dry forest trees. In this area you’ll pass by stands of smooth shiny barked, guavaberry, aromatic pepper cinnamon and bay rum trees and beautiful rock formations, decorated by algaes and colonized by anthuriums and bromiliads.

As you descend towards the L’Esperance Road, more sun penetrates the canopy and you’ll start seeing tyre palm stands and patches of bromiliads growing closely together.

The following is a description given to me by a previous explorer:

“The Camelberg Trail runs between Centerline Road and the L’Esperance Road, beginning just east of the BVI overlook on Centerline. There is parking on the south side of the road about 200 feet east of the overlook. Walk back toward the overlook, and when the bank in your left is about three feet high above the road, head into the woods. It is easy to see as others have gone before you. The route is whacked out but not cleared for a trail so don’t fall on the pungie stakes.

This old road is superb all the way out past Camelberg and you should have no trouble following it. As you head down toward Fish Bay, the trail is less obvious, but well hacked out. You should see tapes in the trees.

St. John Trails: Ruin on Camelberg Trail
Camelberg Trail Ruin

As you approach the L’Esperance Road the trail forks near an some old ruins that aren’t much, but they are there. There are also many orchids here too. After the ruin, the track bears right and works it’s way down toward the gut and down to the L’Esperance Road. Ok, there aren’t any great views, but the part of the trail before you head down the hill runs through a beautiful forest. If you are interested, there is an old stone dam in the gut and a road heading to the south east from the dam. This road is hacked out part way but there is a 100 foot section that isn’t.

Ah, just when you thought you were done: turn left and hike toward Reef Bay on the L’Esperance Road. After you pass the gut that runs down to Fish Bay, and are heading up hill toward Reef Bay, turn left on the old road that heads north. Follow this road and diagonally up to the saddle. From the saddle, stay to the left side of  valley and you will find a track that takes you along the ridge, then turns left and down to the gut. Cross the gut and walk along to the next gut, and turn left and up the second gut. Keep looking to your left, and you will see the stonework on the side of a road that heads up and back toward Camelberg. It is back from the gut a bit so look closely. Follow this road steeply up the hill. After a bit, the road runs out, (probably it switchbacks up someplace). Just make your way up and left to the top of the ridge. There are various tapes in the trees from previous explorations. Once on the ridge, you should be able to follow the track of previous travelers, all the way back the Camelberg Trail. Turn right and walk back to your parked car.”

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