HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS

Alisa, Rocky, and I recently completed every hiking trail on St. John, as you can see here in Gerald Singer’s book “Off The Beaten Track.” It’s a super-helpful book and also makes it easy to find the trail head (start) of each trail listed.

HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS - Off the beaten track book

(*The only trails that I couldn’t do are the Caneel Bay Trails, only because they don’t allow the public inside – which I think is a terrible policy. Alisa got to hike those trails as a tour guide for VI EcoTours)

St. John is over 60% National Park (Official link and Wikipedia link). This means that you can find great trails in almost any direction, however, the park is only 23 square miles, meaning that it’s easy to experience many trails if you have an extended stay on St. John. By comparison, Grand Canyon National Park is 1,900 square miles, Yellowstone National Park is 3,500 square miles, and Kakadu (the largest national park in Australia) is 7,600 square miles. You can fit 330 VI National Parks into Kakadu, and that’s just one of 500 National Parks in Australia…

I have had an AMAZING year here exploring all that the park has to offer, often with Alisa and almost ALWAYS with my badass hiking buddy Rocky. Here is my list of the Best Hiking Trails in the Virgin Islands National Park:

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Best Overall Hike on St. John (Virgin Islands National Park)

The Caneel Hill Loop

(aka “The Caneel Hill– Margaret Hill – Caneel Resort – Honeymoon Beach – Lind Point Loop“)

This is a perfect hike and starts right from town This hike is a great mix of challenging incline, amazing 360 views (from the overlook at the of top Caneel Hill you can see St. Thomas, Jost Van Dyke, Tortola and even St. Croix on a clear day), lots of shade, and a pleasant, peaceful environment to hike through.

HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS

How to get there: Park in town or on the road near the National Park office (across from Mongoose Junction Shopping Center). Walk past Mongoose Junction (away from town) and catch the spur trailhead on the right side of the road, just before the road turns left and begins an uphill climb.

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Most Challenging Hike on St. John (Virgin Islands National Park)

The Hawksnest – Gibney Bay – Denis Bay Scramble

Alisa, Rocky and I love scrambles but even Rocky couldn’t come along for this one. It’s long, challenging and hot! Start at Hawknest and walk to the right on the beach. Start climbing the rocks just like when you were a kid. Walk across Gibney Bay and then climb all the way to Denis Beach. Walk or hitch back to your car at Hawksnest.

HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS

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Most-Challenging-Yet-Most-Fun-Hike on St. John (Virgin Islands National Park)

The Fish Bay Gut Hike (aka my FAVORITE HIKE)

This is a rock scramble/bouldering hike through some of the most amazing scenery. It’s challenging and a great workout, and Rocky absolutely loves this one! You can take a right at the fork (during the trail) and head up the Battery Gut, however, we always enjoy the Fish Bay Gut more by staying to the left at the fork. If you’re feeling really adventurous you can continue up the waterfall and keep hiking ALL the way up the gut (just watch out for the families of spiders, which Alisa could definitely do without).

HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS - Fish Bay Gut

HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS - Fish Bay Gut

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Best Generic Hike on St. John (Virgin Islands National Park)

Reef Bay and Petroglyph Hike

This is “generic” because almost anyone and everyone who hikes on St. John checks out this trail. It is the most highly promoted trail by the National Park Service (they lead their guided hikes here), and with good reason. The terrain is beautiful and there is a lot to see (including spiders on this one too). Near the bottom, you’ll take the spur trail to see the ancient Taino petroglyphs (similar to hieroglyphics). For a cool tip, you’ll have to leave a comment if you want to know about the “secret waterfall” located here.

At the bottom of the trail you can tour an ancient sugar mill, filled with hermit crabs and bats (look up under the roof). For extended hikes you can either continue to Lameshur or start all the way at Maho Bay and take the Maria Hope trail (which ends at the beginning of the Reef Bay Trail). One negative…this trail all downhill first, which means all uphill on the way back. Not my ideal way to do a hike but unavoidable on this one.

HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS - Reef Bay Sugar Mill

HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS - Reef Bay Gut

HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS - Reef Bay Gut

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Best Long Hike on St. John (Virgin Islands National Park)

Reef Bay Coastal Walk – Reef Bay – Lameshur Hike

Drive on the South Shore past Fish Bay and into Reef Bay. Hike down and start the coastal walk. Once you reach the Reef Bay trail, make a left and take the trail until you can make a right onto Lameshur. If you make it all the way to the ruins at Little Lameshur bay it will be an 8 mile roundtrip hike through varied terrain and environments. The turnaround point has a great resting spot under a nice shady tree.

HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS - Great Lameshur Bay

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Hike With the Best View on St. John (Virgin Islands National Park)

Ram Head

This is a hot, exposed hike but not too long in distance. As you get closer to the peak you can get some incredible wind gusts from the west. Once at the peak you can look over the edge (if heights don’t scare you) and enjoy some incredible panoramas. The only other view I would put on the same level is from the observation tower at the top of Caneel Hill (mentioned in the first trail above).

HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS

HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS
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HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS

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Three final points to close…

1. I have to thank Alisa for getting tougher and tougher as the year has gone by. She went from being freaked out when a plant touched her leg to scrambling across crazy rock expanses!

HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS - Yawzi Point

2. Thank you to Bella, our awesome Jeep, for taking us to all different hiking trails around the island. We sold her just a few hours ago to our friend Cyndal and hope that she has just as much fun with Bella as we did!

HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS

HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS

HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS

3. And lastly, a HUGE shout out to my hiking buddy, Rocky. He loved to hike whenever and wherever and always kept me company. I don’t know what I’ll do without him in Australia but you can be sure I’ll think about him on every hike that I do. It kills me to think about not having him with me but am thankful for the countless memories with him hiking the crap out of this island! For a 6 pound Yorkie, he is the MOST BADASS HIKING DOG ON EARTH!!!!

HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS
HIKING ON ST. JOHN - A SUMMARY OF AWESOMENESS

I’ll try to get more videos up on Facebook, but for now here’s one of Rocky running up some Rocks.

What are some of your favorite hikes on St. John? …of all time? Please share in the comments below!