Hikes in the
John Crow Mountains
|Like really remote areas?
The wettest part of Jamaica is the John Crow Mountains, which absorb the full brunt of the moisture-laden air coming off the Caribbean.
This region reportedly receives as much as 300 inches of rain annually. The name John Crow is the local term for the turkey vulture (buzzard), the bald, red-headed scavengers that often make their nests in cliff hollows and on ledges.
The John Crows are considered almost inaccessible because of the great amount of rainfall, which eats away the limestone crust. The terrain is also steep in places and the rain forest is impassable following a downpour.
It's said the last time anyone went through the heart of the John Crows was in 1890, a major expedition that lasted 12 days.
In the lower altitudes of 1000-2000 feet, the explorers reported jungly, Amazon-like rain forest with 100- to 150-foot-tall trees. Hiking trails stay on the edge of the John Crows and go only a short way into them.
Many begin or end at the town of Millbank, 5 miles south of Moore Town. Little-visited (the road stops at Moore Town) and fairly basic, this is the heart of Maroon country. Moore Town is, in fact, the capital of the Windward Maroons.
The Maroons are still a largely unknown people, preferring to stay that way. Maroons consider themselves an independent nation governed by colonels. Moore Town is home to the Maroon colonel, who will find you a guide.
To reach Moore Town from Port Antonio, take the Sommers Town Road. Turn left at the town of Fellowship and proceed through Newington and Windsor. Turn left at Seaman's Valley. The rocky road leads to Moore Town .
The oldest of the Maroon colonels is Col. Harris, who lives in the cement house next to the post office. Col. Stirling, the official leader, lives a little farther on. Bump Grave across from the school is the monument marking the grave of legendary Nanny, founder of the town and now an official national hero.
To reach Millbank, trailhead for most hikes, turn right at Seaman's Valley instead of left (to Moore Town ). Millbank has no real accommodations. The closest is the Ambassabeth Cabins and Campsite (876/938-5036) at Bowden. The cabins have no electricity or running water. Bowden is an hour's walk south of Millbank.
The reason to walk instead of drive is the rope and board suspension bridge that crosses the Rio Grande River, the only dry crossing to Bowden.
Hikes of the John Crow Mountains