We tried to see if there was availability with park service tour when we arrived, but it was booked full the day we wanted to go. It end up raining that day hard, so we got lucky we didn't go that day. It would have been miserable hike in the pouring rain.
We had a rental jeep and a copy of "Off the Beaten Track", so it was no problem doing hike on our own. The trail head is well marked and parking was easy on centerline road.
The hike down was fairly easy and well marked. The park service has signage at along trail identifying items. Without bringing "Off the beaten Track" we would have not known what we were looking at without the park service guide. There are various ruins along the way to the bottom.
The petroglyphs were a very interesting, and they are about a 1/4 mile side trip off the main trail. We saw lots of wildlife along the way including mongoose, deer, and lots of different crabs that at sections of trail were 100's at one spot covering trail.
The sugar mill at the bottom was the best preserved we saw on St John. Very interesting and some of the equipment/machinery is still there. It looks like at one time there was a partial reconstruction. Its starting to fall in disrepair again.
The beach is nice, but the water is full of oval rocks and not the best for swimming. We swam and snorkeled anyway and it was a relaxing break from hike before starting back uphill.
The beach to the left loaded with 1000's of conch in the shallow water.
The hike back up was a little challenging, especially the top half where grade is steeper. We had to take a couple 5 minute breaks. It was a very peaceful hike and we recommend going. We only saw 13 other people the entire hike down and up.
The hike was around 6 miles round trip including petroglyphs. We started about 9am to beat the heat, and got back a little after 1pm taking our time to enjoy the scenery and swim.
We like to make a couple recommendations. Bring sturdy shoes, not flip flops. Bring at least 2 bottles of water each and a little snack. There were nats, so bring insect repellent.
If you don't take park tour bring a guide book so you know what you are looking at.
We are in our early 50's and had no problems hiking both ways. Great hike to spend a morning at before hitting the beaches.
There is a porta-potty at bottom of trail near mill if needed.
We saw a group of 4 young adults(early 20's), they were doing hike in flip-flop and had no water, insect repellent. They looked like they were in pure hell and not enjoying it. They didn't research hike and said they didn't know hike was that long or hard. They thought they heard it was a 1/4 mile hike.
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