Blue & John Crow Mountains National Park

Home to some of the Caribbean's best hiking trails--and lots of them.

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The famed Blue Mountains are part of the 194,000-acre Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, which represents 6 percent of Jamaica 's total landmass.

The country's largest national park, it includes Blue Mountain Peak, the Clydesdale Forest Reserve and Hollywell Recreational Park. It's also the watershed for more than a million people; it rains as much as 300 inches a year in parts of the John Crows, sometimes as much as a foot in a single night.

The Blue Mountains, higher than any in the eastern United States, are so tall they serve as beacons for some migratory birds. Both the Blue and John Crow Mountains also contain much of the Caribbean's last migratory habitat.

One of the world's most diverse tropical rainforests, the park also is the habitat of more than 800 plants found nowhere else on earth and home to the hemisphere's second largest butterfly, the giant swallowtail.

Without its park status, the Blue Mountains would likely turn into the "Brown Mountains." As much as 3 percent of the country's forests were lost annually for charcoal making, vegetable growing and ganja farming.

Many squatters have moved in and started raising vegetables on small farms even though they don't own the land. Their produce is certainly needed to help feed the Kingston area, but at the same time the farming is doing irreparable damage.

Much of the forest that remains includes many introduced species (particularly from Australia), such as eucalyptus, which can tower as much as 150 feet high.

Hikes of the Blue & John Crow Mountains National Park

Blue Mountain Peak Climb

Old Vinegar Hill Trail

Maya Lodge Circle Hike

Jack's Hill to Peter's Rock

Peter's Rock to Holywell

Part 2: Hikes around Newcastle & Holywell