Petroglyph Trail Part 1
St. John
What do the petroglyphs depict? And who carved them?

All Caribbean Islands

Hotel Search

Cruise Planning

Island Tours

Caribbean Recipes

Caribbean Weather


16. The Petroglyph Trail

Length: 0.2 miles. Time: 15 minutes, round trip. Difficulty: 1. Trailhead: This trail starts 1.5 miles, or about fifty minutes, from the beginning of the Reef Bay Trail on Centerline Road . The trailhead is marked and much of the path borders an old stone wall.

After a 5-minute walk from the main Reef Bay Trail, the path leads to a small freshwater pool formed by a gut, or streambed, known as the Living Gut. In the rainy season, you can sometimes enjoy the view of a waterfall.

Crayfish and shrimp live in the pool, but they may be difficult to see because of algae or the water's dark color. Because this is a rare supply of fresh water, you'll hear lots of birds; near dark, also lots of insects humming overhead, waiting to descend.

The petroglyphs are difficult to see, only faint impressions in the rock at the pool waterline. They vary in shape, style and location and it's likely that each new group of inhabitants left their own graffiti.

Most of the drawings, some of which are attributed to the Taino Indians, are located at the far right end of the pool. However, at the opposite corner are a very obvious cross and several faces. This watering spot is an interesting cultural crossroad of those who've lived on St. John.

The first inhabitants lived in the Reef Bay Valley around 3,000 years ago. They were hunter-gatherers who were replaced by an agricultural group that arrived about 1,000 years later.

Columbus reported the island was deserted when he sailed by. The Danes arrived in 1718 and by 1726 Reef Bay Valley was the site of 12 plantations.

Petroglyph Pool may hold a bombshell secret.

It's something called the Fat God, an eerie, overweight figure carved into the hard rock wall, and one man thinks it was drawn by people from Teotihuacan, the pre-Aztec civilization that built the huge pyramids to the sun and the moon near Mexico City.

Robert McCartor, a former history professor at Texas Tech who's made proving his theory a lifelong project, explains his theory about the Fat God.

"No one seems to know what he's the god of, but The fat face, fancy vestments and strange pointed hat are ubiquitous to Mesoamerica," he says.

Next Page (Petroglyph Trail Part 2)

Return to St. John Hiking Trails Homepage