Hiking in Paradise
"Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints"
Hiking is one of the most popular activities on St. John. Virgin Islands National Park provides a wide variety of hiking experiences and more than 20 trails to choose from. We offer accessible boardwalks that meander through historic ruins or take you to a bird viewing deck on one of our lovely salt ponds. For the adventurous, you can put on your hiking shoes and take the Reef Bay Trail down to the petroglyphs, and then down to the old Sugar Mill which is near a lovely beach. Check out our Plants to Avoid and our Hiking and Safety Tips before you head out. Be sure to stop by the Visitor Center Bookstore, operated by the Friends of Virgin Islands National Park, to pick up a copy of the Hikers Guide to Virgin Islands National Park for information on all our trials.
The Lind Point Trails are a good choice for those here for a few hours or a day. There are two access points, one behind the visitor center. This trail wraps around Lind Point to Honeymoon or Salomon Beach. The second access point is about 1/4 mile from the visitor center on North Shore Road. The trailhead is near the national park sign. Follow the trails to Lind Point Overlook for photo ops, then head to Honeymoon or Salomon Beach for a quick dip or a day in the sand and sun.
Cinnamon Bay Nature Loop and Accessible Boardwalk. Meander through the ruins of the historic Cinnamon Bay Sugar Plantation. Smell the scent of the leaves from the bay rum trees, which were once used to make the famous St John Bay Rum Cologne. The boardwalk and nature loop are located across the road from the entrance to the Cinnamon Bay Campground. The nature loop is an easy 0.5 mile hike.
For a more adventurous hike, try the strenuous 1 mile Cinnamon Bay Trail which begins east of the ruins. Hike uphill through a shaded forest filled with several tall trees including mango, genip, guava berry, kapok, and mammee apple. There is a 0.38 spur off of this trail leading to the ruins of a great house known as America Hill. This trail ends at Centerline Road.
Francis Bay Trail starts at the Francis Bay Sugar Factory. It continues past the Mary's Point Estate house and around a salt pond. The dry tropical forest and salt pond provide an excellent opportunity to view birds. The lower portion of the trail is an accessible boardwalk that continues through the mangroves to the two viewing platforms.
Salt Pond is perfect for someone looking for a pleasant stroll to a beautiful beach. Just a quarter mile hike from the parking area to beach, has only a slight grade. Once there, the more adventurous can tackle the Ram Head Trail. This trail is just under a mile long on an old rocky roadbed with a slight incline. The dramatic views make this a great sunset hike.
Yawzi Point Trail: Located between Great Lameshur Bay and Little Lameshur Bay, this .3 mile trail is a good choice if looking for an easy hike. Stone ruins of homes from the Danish colonial period can be found alongside the trail. Small rocky beaches can be accessed by side trails for a quiet snorkel entry spot.
Tektite Trail: The trailhead can be found to the right of Lameshur Road at the first switchback. The .7 mile trail begins with a moderately strenuous ascent on the Cabritte Horn Point. Hike through the desert-like terrain to reach scenic views atop coastal cliffs.
Peace Hill: This .1 mile uphill trail leads to the Peace Hill windmill ruin. Enjoy extensive views of St. John's North Shore at the top of this aptly-named site.
Ranger Guided Hikes
Reef Bay Trail is a strenuous hike that will take you past some of the oldest and tallest trees on the island. Danish sugar plantation ruins, stone walls from cattle grazing, and ancient rock carvings left behind by the pre-Colombian Taino can be found along the trail.
This backcountry trail is steep in places, uneven and rocky, and can be slippery even when dry –you'll need sturdy, closed-toe shoes and a sure foot. Take plenty of water, some snacks and a lunch, and a hat. Mosquito repellent is a good idea, too, and a swimsuit if you'd like to take a dip in the ocean down at the beach at the end of the trail. From the trailhead to the beach is about three miles one way. Plan on about three and one half hours from trailhead to valley floor; it will take longer hiking the 900 foot elevation gain on the way up and out.
If you would like to join a ranger-led hike on this trail visit Friends of Virgin Islands National Park or visit our Ranger Programs and Guided Tours page for more information about this and other guided hikes.
L'Esperance Trail follows a historic Danish road passing ruins of some of the earliest plantations established on St. John. View the island's only baobab, a sacred tree species that was brought to the Caribbean by enslaved Africans. From trailhead to the beach is about 2.6 miles one way. Much of the trail faces west and lacks tree shade so be sure to wear sun protection and a hat.
For those fit and avid hikers a great option is to hike down either L'Esperance or Reef Bay and then back up the other. One can also take a ranger-led hike and learn about the amazing adaptations that emerged from the struggle for survival, both for the early settlers on the island and the wildlife that has a home here.
These backcountry trails are steep in places, uneven and rocky, and can be slippery even when dry – you'll need sturdy, closed-toe shoes and a sure foot. Take plenty of water, some snacks and a lunch, and a hat. Mosquito repellent is a good idea, too, and a swim suit if you'd like to take a dip in the ocean down at the beach at the end of the trail.