Reef Bay Trail & Petroglyphs
At one time, the Reef Bay Trail was paved with volcanic rock and ox carts loaded
with heavy loads of sugar-filled hogsheads used it regularly.
Note how several of the trees beside the Reef Bay Trail are bound with
strangler figs, so named because the fig may overrun and kill
the host tree. The latex of the bark and the fruit of the strangler
fig were once used for caulking boats. The broad green leaves have even
served as writing paper and playing cards.
Wild donkeys, wild
hogs, huge termite mounds and striking, beautiful golden orb
spiders may all be seen along the Reef Bay Trail. In the fall you may
witness a hermit crab migration of sorts when the crabs go to sea to
reproduce and find new, larger shells.
About 30 minutes along the trail, you'll reach the Jossie Gut
Sugar Estate. Ruins include a circular sugar cane grinding
platform from the 18th century. The sugar boiling room and several other
parts of the factory still stand. The walls are a mosaic of stone, coral
and red and yellow brick.
Mortar was made of a mixture of lime from the seashells, sand, and sweet
sugar cane molasses. The entire exterior once was covered with a reddish
plaster, so it must have been quite a sight.
You'll also see a thorny lime tree, imported from Southeast
Asia and cultivated as an export crop on St. John. Sailors ate limes
to prevent scurvy (a vitamin C deficiency) on long voyages. Other good
uses for lime juice you may not know: the juice helps dissolve sea urchin
spines, should you step on one. It also helps heal sand fly bites.
About 45 minutes down the Reef Bay Trail is the Par Force Village,
the foundations of a plantation workers' village. Although sugar cane
was no longer cultivated after 1916, some workers tried to stay on by
raising cattle and farming. They finally abandoned the land in the 1940s.
Old bottles, pots and glass shards are displayed on
the foundation to be admired, not taken.
Walk just 5 minutes more and you reach the right turnoff for the Petroglyph
Trail, described separately in Hike 16. The Petroglyph Trail
is 1.2 miles from the Reef Bay sugar plantation ruins.
Continuing on the Reef Bay Trai to the beach, you'll enter a much drier forest. Eventually
you'll reach a small picnic area and pit toilets near the Reef Bay sugar
mill ruins. The plantation, one of four on this route, produced
sugar and molasses from the 1860s until 1916. The ruins are in good
condition and well worth exploring.
the end of the Reef Bay Trai near the beach are pit toilets and a picnic site.
Next Page (Reef Bay Trail Part 3)
Reef Bay Trail
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John Hiking Trails Listing