Hiking on St. John, St. John
U.S. Virgin Islands
Tel: 340 776 6201
Concierge.com's insider take:
There are more than 20 worthy trails within Virgin Islands National Park, all easily tackled in a half-day or less, but no serious eco-adventurer should miss the day hike to Reef Bay on St. John's southern coast. Ranger-led treks on this easy, 2.2-mile downhill trail take you past Danish-era plantation ruins, pre-Columbian petroglyphs, and an abandoned sugar mill before ending at the beach, where you can take a dip to cool off. Best of all, a boat zips you back to Cruz Bay so you don't have to climb back up the mountain. Reservations are essential; a five-mile jeep ride from the park visitor's center in Cruz Bay will bring you to the trailhead (340-776-6201, ext. 238, for schedules; $23).
For one of the best views in all of St. John, make the cactus-studded hike to Ram Head on the island's southeastern tip. Drive four miles south of Coral Bay along Route 107 and then follow the quarter-mile path to Salt Pond Bay. At the south end of the beach, you can pick up the 1.2-mile Ram Head Trail, which skirts a blue cobble beach before climbing a rugged, 200-foot-tall promontory for an incredible, 360-degree Caribbean panorama.
Low-impact hikers will appreciate the half-mile loop at north-shore Cinnamon Bay. The nature trail, including a boardwalk through the ruins of a colonial-era sugar estate, begins across the road from Cinnamon Bay Campground and is clearly marked with signs identifying animals and trees you'll spot along the way.
A short drive east of Cinnamon Bay is a portion of the half-mile Francis Bay trail that meanders through mangrove forests to a brackish pond where it's possible to spot deer and wading birds. History buffs should check out the nearby Annaberg Historic Trail, an easy half-mile walk overlooking Leinster Bay that passes through one of the island's best-preserved 18th-century plantations.