St. John Virgin Islands: The Great Seiban

Yesterday I hiked the Great Seiban, old Danish Road that connected Estate Seiban to Fish Bay and observed where and how the trail had been rerouted.

Instead of leading to the lower portion of the Seiban Estate near the Baobob tree, a new trail was cut along the edge of the estate leading to the L’Esperance Trail about 20 yards east of the narrow access trail from the L’Esperance Road to the Seaiban Estate.

About a month ago, volunteers from the Friends of the Park cleared the Seiban ruins and improved the access through the estate via the L’esperance road.

The trail crew also rerouted the Great Seiban citing archaeological concerns.

Why this is was a concern is beyond me. Certainly nobody was concerned it while the old estate was slowly deteriorating lost in the bush, and neither is anybody concerned about access to the estate from tha L’Esperance Road. So what was the problem with the Great Seiban?

As far as anyone I know on St. John remembers, this old road was completed lost in the bush until it was found and cleared by the Trail Bandit and local hikers a few years ago.

As with all of the Trail Bandit’s work, the newly-cleared trail is historically correct, that is, it follows the actual route of the old road. This can readily be seen by observing the dry stacked stone on the lower edge of the road still in evidence along the great majority of the route.

The narrow trail from the L’Esperance Road that leads through the ruins was left intact. Unlike the Great Seiban, this trail is not historically correct, it simply provides access to the estate so that hikers could access the ruins.

Why then was the Great Seiban Road was rerouted to preserve the archeological importance of the ruins?

Like I said, it’s beyond me.

The Great Seiban

Special Features
The Great Seiban provides a shorter route than taking the L’Esperance Road for those hikers wishing to visit the Seiban Estate or the Baobob Tree.

There are impressive views of Fish Bay and the Fish Bay Valley along the trail.

Distance: 0.5 mile

The Great seiban has a moderate incline with an elevation of about 360 feet at the Fish Bay trailhead and about 580 feet at the intersection of the L’Esperance Road, a gain of 220 feet over the half mile of trail.

About the Trail
An old Danish Road, the Great Sieban, connects the L’Esperance Road at Estate Seiban to Fish Bay. The trail, recently opened by the Trail Bandit and local hikers, descended from the Sieban Ruins near the baobob tree, following the contour of the Fish Bay Valley and leading to a residential area of Fish Bay.

In 2009, Friends of the Park volunteer trail crew rerouted the upper portion of the road to connect to the L’Esperance Trail about 20 yards east of the narrow access trail from the L’Esperance Road to the Seaiban Estate.

The hand-built road constructed in colonial times has weathered the centuries well, as can be seen by the good condition of much of the stone retaining walls supporting the lower side of the road.

The Great Sieban passes through shady moist forest with stands of guavaberry, West Indian Birch, genip and turpentine trees underneath which are bromeliads, anthuriums and love leaf.

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