Ram Head Trail
St. John, USVI
|One of my favorite walks, anywhere.|
Trailhead: You must first make the short walk to Salt Pond Bay and pick up the Ram Head trail at the southern end of the Salt Pond Bay Beach.
I consider this the best hike on all of St. John. A sunrise hike is the most pleasant.
Go too close to sunset and you'll come home in the dark. This is not a trail to walk for the first time in pitch black, even with the best of flashlights.
The trail eventually leads to Ram Head Point, that striking hump of green landscape off in the distance to your right. The views from the point are spectacular and the deeply cut shoreline is impressive.
Geologically, Ram Head Point is composed of the oldest rock found on St. John.
This hike can be confusing because the trail is not well marked. Furthermore, many different false trails have been made by people trying to reach Ram Head Point.
This is the one hike on the island where you need to pay close attention to the accompanying directions to avoid getting lost.
If you do wander afield, you won't come to any harm; the hike will just take a lot longer. Possibly hours longer.
Runaway slaves apparently lived at Ram Head Point in the 1700s. Although the ground is rocky and thorny, living would have been relatively easy. Whelks could easily be taken from Salt Pond Bay and the point is always cooled by the trade winds.
During the slave rebellion of 1733 a number of slaves (somewhere between 8-12) committed suicide at the point. Legends says they leaped to their deaths on the rocks below rather than face recapture. Other accounts relate that they committed suicide with firearms.
To find the trail, go to the far end at Salt Pond Bay. The trail leaves Salt Pond Bay about 0.1 miles after the Park Service sign that indicates the trail split between Ram Head and Drunk Bay. The sign is near the end of the sandy beach on Salt Pond Bay. In some spots you'll be able to discern a trail of sorts among the rocks, but for many yards there is no indication anyone has ever passed this way before. Have faith.
0.25 miles you'll find an obvious, identifiable trail that begins to
climb above Salt Pond Bay. The path follows the top of a ridge and then
descends to Blue Rock Beach. The color of the stones
explains why. Avoid the trail going off to the left that appears to
skirt the ridge. You'll come down to Blue Rock Beach near a fallen tree
where an aged, very thick rope lies across the trail, marking it.
Remember this sight: It's your trail marker coming back.
You'll walk the rocky shoreline for about 0.25 miles. However, unlike at the first rocky beach, there are many indications of previous hikers. Some have even built miniature stone cairns.
Most of the
cairns are meaningless construction. Look for a bright red post that
will signal when it's time to leave the beach and start climbing
To the east, there's nothing but open ocean between you and the nearest coastline: Africa.
Walk carefully because of all the hundreds (thousands?) of barrel cactus. You'll probably see wild goats. And envy their agility on this uneven terrain. Standing on the peak of Ram Head Point, you'll be almost 200 feet above sea level.
Returning, find the red post that points to the return trail from Blue Rock Beach. Look for the thick rope across the trail, turn left at the fallen tree and you'll be on the trail.
If you stay
on the beach and go past the rope, you should still encounter the trail
once you're forced to start climbing uphill.