Old Vinegar Hill Trail
|Once an important track for locals, now rarely used.|
Length: About 25 miles one-way. Time: 2-3 days to do it enjoyably. Difficulty: 3. Not as steep at Blue Mountain Peak. Trailhead: Maya Mountain Lodge, at Juba Springs on Jack's Hill.
This hike is a beauty because it takes you through the wilderness along an historic route that dates to the 1600s, when people would go by mule or donkey or horse or foot. Once the only regular trading route between Port Antonio on the North Coast and Kingston, it is little used now.
The track goes up to Hollywell, along an especially striking stretch called the Fairy Glades Trail, through Silver Hill Gap and over Morris Gap at about 5,700 feet, on the Grand Ridge of the Blue Mountains. Old Vinegar Hill is the only trail that goes over the Grand Ridge.
On the north side, you're in genuine wilderness. The montane forest here is truly special, even more so than the Fairy Glades because it's pristine, mature montane forest, some of Jamaica's last. It surpasses the vegetation of Blue Mountain Peak because it is largely untouched.
Perhaps only a handful of people (local farmers) use this route each month. Farmers on the north side of the mountain grow yams and root crops, while those on south produce spices, herbs and vegetables.
You'll pass through Vinegar Hill at about 3,000 feet, then come down to about 2,000 feet where you can be picked up and taken to Crystal Springs, a 200-acre property with cottages about a half hour away. Crystal Springs has the largest orchid collection in Jamaica, about 25,000 plants, located right beside the Spanish Rive .
MyBest Falls : A branch off the Vinegar Hill Trail. Length: 10 miles walking roundtrip from the Vinegar Hill Trail. Time: 5-8 hours hiking time. The exact height of the falls isn't known but they're estimated at between 700-900 feet, which would make them among Jamaica's highest. The water cascades over in a single drop, with a ledge part way down.