The Mastic Trail
Part 4

The Mastic heartland is the richest part of the island.

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Mastic Trail Hike
Finding The Ancient Heartland

The ancient heartland of the Mastic Trail also is the richest place in all the islands for both plants and animals. The most obvious animals were the legions of hermit crabs that continually scuttled and crawled on the ground and up the rocks.

Because many of the crab shells grew the same green lichen that thrived on the rocks, I was reminded of a constantly moving army of pebbles. But whenever a crab didn't move, it blended perfectly into the rocky landscape.

It's also in this heartland that the huge mastic tree thrives, on the right hand side of the trail, impossible to miss. The mastic is so thick that four or five people would be needed to join hands around its girth.

I had difficulty imagining what the Caymans must have been like when they were forested by hundreds or thousands of trees like this one. The time before settlement truly must have been a very different world.   

Yet the thick forest canopy created by this mastic and the other remaining large trees was so dense that my sunlit morning seemed more like twilight. I had to use flash to take any pictures.  

On sunny Grand Cayman, the presence of this much shade was completely unexpected, but it was just another of many surprises I encountered along the Mastic Trail.

The Mastic Trail is located about 45 minutes from downtown George Town. Drive the coastal road in the direction of East End, turning left at the well-marked Frank Sound Road. Look for a turnoff onto an unpaved road on the left near a fire station. The turnoff is south of the Queen Elizabeth Botanical Park.

If you want to hike Mastic Trail with a guide, opportunities are limited. The Cayman Islands National Trust conducts a hike every Wednesday at 9am and every fourth Saturday. That trip also starts at 9am.
Tour groups are limited to 15 persons, so advance reservations are suggested: Contact the National Trust at 345/949-0121. The fee is US$25 per person.

You're welcome to hike the trail on your own, since it's open 24 hours a day. The likelihood of getting lost is slim but you'll find the hike a lot more enjoyable and informative if you pick up a US$5 map for a self-guided tour from the National Trust Office South Church Street. The office is open Monday-Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Hikers normally leave their vehicles in the small parking lot at the southern end of the trailhead. On a guided hike, you're shuttled back to your car from the trail's north end on Further Road. Unless you have a second vehicle, you may need to retrace your steps, which turns this into a half-day outing.

Items you need:
At least one water bottle. The humidity can be overwhelming sometimes.
Hat and sunglasses.
Insect spray may be needed during Cayman's wet season, May through October.
For footwear, something more serious than flip-flops. Close-toe sandals may work but tennis shoes are best.

The Mastic Trail Part 1

The Mastic Trail Part 2

The Mastic Trail Part 3

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