Hiking on St John
The island of St John is about 2/3 US National Park lands, and has 27 miles of maintained trails for hikers of all abilities. Some of the best views and most secluded beaches are reached by trails that are maintained by the Friends of the VI National Park.
As a matter of fact, if you’d like to volunteer, they meet most Tuesdays and Thursdays at a predetermined trail head and you are most welcome to join their efforts for a morning! Click here for more information https://friendsvinp.org/trails/?fbclid=IwAR0eFxlyxrSg8L3_pYRmNaMqASNiIedoQXq4CVZ6uJXIhQ2TVxWZKBWk7yo
Probably my favorite hike! This 1.8 mile (3.5 round trip) trail takes you from one side of the island to the other – from Coral Bay to Leinster Bay/Waterlemon Cay. It’s a challenge but so worth it.
What I love it that it offers everything in one – great exercise, historical ruins, Caribbean vistas, a fantastic snorkel, and when you finally get back to Coral Bay, you are perfectly located (and OH-so-ready!) to head over to Skinny Legs and enjoy a well-deserved burger and libation. I recommend starting pretty early and maybe budget around 4-5 hours for the entire experience, depending on how long you snorkel. Bring plenty of water!
We park by the Moravian Church and walk the road until it turns into trail (or drive up the road and park closer to the trail). The trail follows the mountain ridge though some dry forest and over the top where you will have amazing views of Waterlemon Cay/Leinster Bay. A bit further to Murphy Great house ruins (more great views), then down to Waterlemon Bay beach. You can go along the coral beach to find your perfect snorkel spot – it is considered one of the top snorkels on island, and for good reason. It’s off the beaten path and has an amazing variety of sea life. On the return, you will have sweeping views of Coral Bay and you’ll be very ready for your post hike celebration at Skinny’s!
Cinnamon Bay/America Hill
This is my second favorite hike for history and awesome views. Park at Cinnamon Bay, go across the street and explore the Cinnamon Bay Sugar Plantation ruins. The National Park Service has some signs with explanations of different buildings and their history/use. And there is a .5 mile boardwalk/nature walk through the forest, also with signage. Allow 30-45 minutes for this little hike.
The America Hill trail begins at the National Park sign – it doesn’t say America Hill anywhere on the sign- it says Cinnamon Bay Trail, but don’t worry. The beginning of the hike is the most difficult – it’s pretty steep and not very shady. But soon enough the trail will level off and crosses a gut, at which point it becomes shady. About 10-15 minutes past the gut, you’ll see a sign which points you to the left towards America Hill (this sign actually does say America Hill!). At the top you’ll reach the Estate House and have gorgeous views of Maho and Francis Bays, with Tortola in the distance. Gorgeous! Allow at least 90 minutes.
Here is a link with a more comprehensive listing of St John hikes…