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The diverse habitats of Virgin Islands National Park are home to 140 species of birds, seven species of amphibians and 22 species of mammals (including mongoose, deer and bats), so you might make a few new friends along the trails. More than 700 species of plants make this park one of the most biodiverse in the world. Some trails even lead to secluded beaches, where you can take a post-hike swim.

BEFORE YOU GO

Before hiking in Virgin Islands National Park, stop at the Visitor Center to pick up a copy of The Hiker’s Guide to Virgin Islands National Park and get a preview of what you’ll see on the varied trails that range from easy walking to challenging uphill terrain. Download the National Park Service’s NPS app for access to maps, basic information on the park and more, all at your fingertips on your smartphone. Hike safely by carefully planning your route, bringing plenty of water and staying on the trails. Don’t forget reef-safe sunscreen and mosquito repellent. Pack a swimsuit in your backpack, too.

If you’d like to join a ranger-led hike, visit Friends of Virgin Islands National Park, the park’s official philanthropic partner. Or check out the park’s ranger-guided tours for information on upcoming hikes.

beginner trails

Hike the Lind Point Trails, which wind through the northwestern corner of St. John. Take your pick from paths that lead from the Visitor Center in Cruz Bay to Honeymoon Beach, Salomon Beach and the Cruz Bay overlook. The Lind Point Trail to Honeymoon Beach is a popular 2.3-mile loop that’s generally considered to be easy and takes about an hour to complete. Extend the adventure by renting a kayak on Honeymoon Beach and paddling the beautiful bay or bring a beach blanket and catch some rays.

Hike through the ruins of a former sugar plantation, leading to a forest of bay rum and palm trees, on the easy Cinnamon Bay Nature Loop and Accessible Trail. The first .09 miles of the Cinnamon Bay Nature Loop is accessible via wheelchair and is a stroller-friendly boardwalk that loops through the ruins, while the remaining portion of the trail is moderately sloped with occasional rocks to navigate. See if you can spot the above-ground tombs of the former plantation owner’s wife and children in the shady grove above the plantation.  

intermediate trails

It takes about 90 minutes to hike the moderately challenging, 2-miles out-and-back Salt Pond Bay and Ram Head Trails. Expect cool breezes and panoramic views as you hike the sandy north shore of Salt Pond Beach and a segment of the island’s eastern shoreline before climbing up a rocky slope dotted with Turk’s Cap Cactus — barrel-shaped plants topped with vibrant red flowers. At the Ram Head overlook, stunning views of the islands await.

Hike the moderately strenuous Tektite Trail through a unique, desert-like landscape. From the trailhead located on the south side of Lameshur Road (about 60 feet west of the top of the hill), the trail ascends to the coastal cliffs of Cabritte Horn Point. The 1.3-mile out-and-back trail takes less than an hour to complete.

advanced trails

The challenging, 1.2-mile Bordeaux Mountain Trail starts with a trailhead situated 1,300 feet above sea level atop St. John’s highest peak and then traverses a tropical forest to a tranquil bay where you can walk among the ruins of an 18th-century rum distillery. This is one of the best hikes for catching a splendid island sunrise or sunset.

From the 18th through much of the 19th centuries, Catherineberg Ruins was the site of a booming sugar plantation. Hike the scenic Catherineberg Ruins Trail to see the historic Catherineberg sugar plantation ruins, including the remains of the 18th-century factory buildings and windmill tower. The hiking trail offers an opportunity to reflect on the history of slavery and the slave rebellion that began here. The revolt was led by Breffu, a woman from the Akwamu tribe, who is remembered as the Queen of St. John and is celebrated annually with a parade.

The Reef Bay Trail is one of the most strenuous hikes on the island. You’ll pass some of the oldest and tallest trees on the island, the historic Reef Bay Sugar Mill ruins, and ancient rock carvings left behind by the pre-Columbian Taino people. Plan your hike during the rainy season when the waterfall is at its most spectacular. The 3-mile-long hike begins at Centerline Road and descends through the lush forest to Reef Bay. Arrange in advance to get picked up by a boat at the trail’s end or tackle the challenging uphill return hike. This backcountry trail is steep and rocky, and can be slippery even when dry, so be sure to wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes.

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