Reef Bay Trail
Part 2

Don't miss the side trail to petroglyph pool.

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Reef Bay Trail & Petroglyphs
Part 2

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.

At the end of the Reef Bay Trai near the beach are pit toilets and a picnic site.

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