Virgin Islands National Park closes access to 325 acres on the south side of St. John
In reaction to the illegal improvement of an old Danish Road that ran above the White Cliffs and its connection to one of the many goat trails found in the vicinity of Europa Bay, the Virgin Islands National Park has closed public access to 325 acres on the south side of St. John. The trail in question, known as the White Cliffs Trail, runs through an area of the park that is the habitat of Eugenia Earhartii, which the NPS maintains would be endangered by hikers using the trail.
Eugenia Earhartii or more commonly know as Earhart’s Stopper is a shrub in the genus Eugenia (stopper) which contains 1000 species and belongs to the family of the Myrtaceae (Myrtle Family). Its duration is perennial which means it will grow year after year. Its floral region is The Virgin Islands.
St. John Weather
Overcast with rain showers
High of 81 degrees F
Breezy: Winds from the ENE at 10 to 20 mph
Chance of rain 30%
Sunrise: 6:52 AM AST – Sunset: 6:12 PM AST
Water Temperature (Charlotte Amalie Harbor, St. Thomas) 82.9 degrees F
St. John Live Music Schedule – January 30
Rascio on Steel Pan
6:00 – 8:00
Flip Flop Rock
St. John Flutes
Cruz Bay Prime
7:00 – 10:00
Lemuel Callwood Steel Pan
4:00 – 6:00
6:30 – 9:30
Get Right Band
Sun Dog Cafe
Wednesday Night Jam
Lauren & Mark Wallce
If you’re in decent physical shape and enjoy hiking on St. John and you’re looking for a good hike recommendation, I have one for you: the Lameshur Bay to Reef Bay loop.
This loop will not only provide you with access to the Reef Bay Sugar Mill ruins on the Reef Bay Trail, the waterfall fed pool where Taino Indians made carvings in the rocks called the the petroglyphs and the Par Force Great House where wealthy plantation owners made their home, but it will also lead you on an adventurous journey along a dramatic cliffside trail with breathtaking views, a coastal scramble along a coral rubble beach and access to a remote salt pond and reef protected shallow water lagoon.
Note: The White Cliffs portion of the loop is not an official National Park trail and consequently no official maintenance is being done. My point is, check out this outstanding trail sooner rather than later while it is still in such good condition Experience tells me it won’t be this good forever.
Although there are several modifications and alternative options the basic hike would go something like this:
1) Lameshur Bay Trail from Lameshur Bay to the Europa Spur Trail
2) Europa Spur to the beach at Europa Bay
3) Walk along the beach towards the point (White Point)
4) Pick up the Trail that goes inland and climbs steeply up to the White Cliffs Trail that runs on top of a ridge above the White Cliffs on St. John’s the southern coast between Europa and Reef Bay.
5) Follow the White Cliffs Trail until it ends on the beach at the eastern end of Reef Bay
6) Walk west along the beach as far as you can without getting wet and then walk through the mangrove forest to the Reef Bay Sugar Mill Ruins.
7) Take the Reef Bay Trail to the Lameshur Bay Trail and then hike back to Lameshur Bay.
Bring water! A camera, snacks and bug repellent might also be good ideas.
Lameshur Bay Trail from Lameshur Bay to the Europa Spur Trail
The beginning of the Lameshur Bay Trail passes through some dry forest lowlands. It’s an easy flat and shady walk – a good beginning. Check out the large tamarind tree by the side of the trail. Looks like it was split in half by lightening once upon a time.
If you have plenty of energy, you can check out the Europa Point Trail for some outstanding overlooks and photo ops, but remember the loop is rather long so perhaps the exploration of Europa Point should be left to the end of the adventure, just to see if you really do have that extra energy.
If you’re in luck like I often am, you’ll see a deer or two on this section of the hike. They seem to like it around here.
The Europa Bay Trail will take you to the beach at Europa Bay. Walk south towards the point to the end of the beach where you’ll find the entrance to the White Cliffs Trail.
White Cliffs Trail
At the end of the beach you should find a narrow but well defined trail that heads inland and then runs steeple up the hillside to the ridge above. It’s a bit tough going because of the steepness, but before you know it you’ll have reached the top. You’ll pass by some beautiful rock formations after which you should start seeing countless native orchids which seem to be everywhere along this trail and along the ridge top.
Near the top of the trail there are some great overlooks down towards Europa Bay. At the top of the steep trail, there are some more great vantage points. The White Cliffs Trail heads west from here, but you can go east for a little while and enjoy a great view towards the southeastern coastline, Kiddle, Grootpan and Salt Pond Bays.
The trail is presently in great condition and you shouldn’t have a problem following it. Once you get the section above the White Cliffs, there will be plenty of opportunities for great photographs as the trail follows the edge of a steep cliff side that descends from the ridge down to the sea.
To Reef Bay and back to Lameshur
After passing over the White Cliffs, the White Cliff Trail descends down to the beach at the eastern end of Reef Bay. A barrier reef, which forms a long semi circle around the bay comes ashore nearby. Behind the reef is a shallow lagoon, which may or may not be under water depending on the tide and time of year. This lagoon provides protection for many varieties of sea life and is an integral part of island and ocean environments.
Walk east along the beach as long as you can and then enter the mangrove forest proceeding in the same general direction until you get to the sugar mill ruins.
From there take the Reef Bay Trail to the Lameshur Bay Trail.
Want a beautiful and exciting alternative to the Lameshur Bay Trail between Lameshur Bay and Reef Bay? We have one for you and it is one of the most dramatic, scenic and exciting hiking trails on St. John – The White Cliffs Trail.
Beginning at Lameshur Bay, take the Lameshur Bay Trail as far as the Europa Bay Spur. Turn left onto the Europa Bay Spur and follow it to the coral rubble and rock strewn beach at Europa Bay.
Turn right and head towards the south end of the beach. You should be feeling a cooling breeze and hearing the sounds of the surf breaking and the melodious rhythm of the small cobbles and pieces of coral rolling back and forth in the surge.
Walk along the shore until you reach the steep hill coming down from the cliffs. Turn right along the base of the hill (it is cleared) and go about 150 feet in from the water. Bear left and diagonally up the hill. You want to stay just to the right of the big rocks and in a short way, you will start to see a track that heads straight up. Follow it to the top of the ridge….”
Near the top is a turn off to the right with magnificent bird’s eye views of Europa Bay and the big salt pond behind it.
When you reach the ridge, a short walk to the left will bring you to an overlook with great views to the southeast coast of St. John all the way out to Rams Head.
Now for the trail: Walk west along the ridge. The trail goes to the left side of the ridge, down a bit and then back over the ridge and down a bit on the north side of the ridge. The trail gets better as you go. If you are bushwhacking at all, you missed it. Just keep heading west.
Passing a rather large agave in then middle of the trail, follow the trail straight up the ridge. After you pass over a short rocky section, you will come to an area of large cactus.
The trail isn’t very noticeable here, but you can keep just to the right of the first couple of cactus and then bear up and left to reach the top of the cliff. There are a few little agaves but it is easy going. You should be at the top of the cliff with the ocean straight down below you. There is a section of stone wall at the edge.
What we’re calling the White Cliffs Trail may have been a footpath for those traveling between Lameshur Bay and Reef Bay, but this part where you first get to the clifftop and the section of stone wall appears to be an old road.
Now you will be walking west along the ridgetop. On your left the hillside descends steeply towards the White Cliffs and the rocky shoreline below. Wowie! Awesomely dramatic! And lots of outstanding photo ops also!
The views to the south are superb all along the trail and there are more orchids blooming along the trail than I have seen anywhere else on the island. If you look closely, they seem to grow along the trail, but not much away from the trail. They were just starting to bloom before Christmas.
From here, the trail is obvious and follows along the side of the hill and goes straight toward Reef Bay.
You will emerge from the trail at the east end of the beach not far from the beginning of the White Cliffs.
If you want to find the trail from the beach at Reef Bay, walk east along the beach until you are a few hundred feet from the end. There are two round bushes on the beach, out toward the water. Both about 6 feet tall, look the same, and are maybe 20 feet apart. Head into the woods from between the bushes, bear right and sort of follow up the left side of the gut. Look for the cut stumps. It is probably easier to find from the Europa Bay end.
If you haven’t had enough by now, you can easily reach the sugar mill ruins at the end of the Reef Bay Trail and continue your explorations, such as the petroglyphs, the Par Force Ruins and the Great House. If you don’t want to backtrack you can also return to Lameshur Bay via the Lameshur By Trail.
All about St John in the beautiful US Virgin Islands (USVI) American Paradise