America Hill

Since we usually work mornings, we try to go on hikes after work. The Virgin Islands national park, which covers most of the island of St John, is full of lovely trails, most of them not too long or too intense – an average trail around here takes about a couple of hours. Some of them can be quite steep, but the most important problem seems to be the speed at which nature takes over.  Most of the less popular trails seem to be overgrown, so whenever you take one of those, there’s usually a certain amount of bushwhacking and also a certain amount of guessing as to where the trail actually goes. Being on a such a small island is kind of reassuring though – you can’t really get too lost, since at any given time you’re no more than a couple of hours from one of the two main roads or from the sea! So one can afford to be a little bit more adventurous than, say, in the Black Forest.So, back to our adventures… A few days ago we walked the America Hill trail, which heads off into the hills near a lovely beach called Cinnamon Bay. The beach is actually within the national park territory, and there is a pretty cool national park campsite next to it (apparently, that’s how Maho Bay Camps started back in the seventies – the Cinnamon Bay campsite was overflowing with guests and Maho was created to accommodate those who couldn’t find a place at Cinnamon). It’s got big canvas tent units, little bungalows, an open air cinema, and access to a gorgeous beach:

Cinnamon Bay

The trail-head is across the street  from the campsite entrance. The trail was kind of steep and so overgrown that after some point we just started guessing – but we made it in the end, and it was definitely worth it! At the end of the trail there are the remains of a red villa, with one of the most spectacular views on the island.

America Hill villa

View from the top of America Hill

I’ve been trying to find out something about the history of the place but nobody seems to know who it belonged to (the only interesting piece of info i managed to find is that one of it’s last tenants is rumored to have been Trujillo, former dictator of the Dominican Republic). Now it basically belongs to the forest! The whole place is covered in beautiful flowers and trees.

America Hill villa

We admired the view for a bit, got stung by nettles, saw some millipedes cuddling on a tree,

Cuddling millipedes

and then tried to find our way back through the bushes.

After we got down to the road, we went for a walk around the Cinnamon Bay ruins – another abandoned sugar plantation. You can walk around the old factory,

Cinnamon Bay sugar plantation ruins

and past the plantation cemetery, where the owner, his wife and children are buried:

Cemetary at Cinnamon Bay ruins

Apparently, the plantation house below was inhabited until 1968 (which goes to show how quickly nature takes over, since the place looks like it’s been abandoned for 200 years!).

Plantation house

Both the America Hill and the Cinnamon Bay ruins loop trails were a lot of fun, and relaxing at the beach after a nice hike made it all even better!

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