“One of the more difficult trails in the park with an intriguing reward at the end!
— Kristen Arendt
Birding · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife
A manageable distance with lots to explore along the way! Kids will especially love taking part in the guided tour and learning more about the amazing plants, animals, history, and culture of the park
While Reef Bay Trail
is one of the more difficult trails in the park, hikers will enjoy the backcountry feel along this more remote route. Additionally, there are many historical and cultural ruins along the way that speak to the varied and unique history of the island.
The trail is extremely steep, and rocky. If you attempt this trail be sure to bring bug spray, lots of water, and wear sturdy shoes.
Need to Know
To sign up for a Park Ranger guided experience of the Reef Bay Hike visit our Friends of Virgin Islands National Park website
or the gift store, located in Mongoose Junction.
The hike starts from Centerline Road on the Reef Bay Trail
. From the trailhead, the trail covers an old donkey path that was used to transport goods for the sugar cane industry. You'll see several old plantation ruins along the way including Par Force and the Reef Bay Sugar Plantation, which was actually converted to steam use in its later years. The equipment is still there today.
The initial mile of the trails descends, very steeply at first and becoming more gradual as you go. The trail here is rocky in addition to being steep, so take your time and watch your footing. Also, remember you are eventually going to have to climb back up this way so be sure to save your energy for the second half of your hike!
About two-thirds of the way down the trail, you'll come to the junction with the Petroglyph Trail
. This spur trail will take you to the natural reflecting pool where the Taino indians had carved totems referred to as "zemis" into the rock bed. After heavy rains, this area also has a natural waterfall. Between the dense forest and more remote feel of the trail, you feel like you have been transported back in time. Once you are done exploring the area, head back the way you came to return to the trailhead.
The National Park Service also offers a guided tour several times a week. This tour offers interpretive knowledge of local plants and animals as well as cultural and historical information about several plantation ruins that you'll find along the way. The tour includes a shuttle service from the NPS center and a return boat trip from Reef Bay to Cruz Bay. All proceeds go directly to support the National Park. More information on these tours can be found at FriendsVINP.org/hike.