Even after a few years on St. John I am still amazed by the beauty of the nature and the trails. Today’s story is about the Johnny Horn Trail, just half an hour outside Cruz Bay you can find yourself in total wilderness and enjoy tranquil, stunning views.
How to get to the Johnny Horn Trail, St. John
Take the North Shore Road until Annaberg Sugar Plantation, or coming from the Coral Bay Side take E10 and E20. Park at Annaberg Sugar Plantation Parking Lot. The first part of the trail is the Leinster Bay Trail, just follow the little path along the shore. At the end of the bay make your way upwards.
Old Danish Guardhouse Leinster Point
After going uphill on a moderate incline for about 5-10 minutes, you will reach the first point of interest, the Old Danish Guard House. It is overlooking the channel between St. John and Tortola and it used to be equipped with canons and manned by soldiers in an effort to prevent slaves swimming over to Tortola. Why did slaves risk the dangerous swim in the strong current? Because slavery was abolished on Tortola in 1840 (1848 on St. John) so they arrived over there as free man.
Great Murphy House
Continue up the hill after the Guardhouse there will be another path that leads up to the ruin of the James Murphy Estate House.
From there you will have a great view down onto Waterlemon Cay, which is one one of St. John’s premier snorkeling spots. The house was built in the 18th century by John Murphy a wealthy St. John merchant, ship owner and slave trader. It is said to have been equipped with a huge library and beautiful mahagony furniture. The storm of 1916 blew this house down.
Brown Bay Trail Intersection
Follow the path down back to the trail and continue along the ridge which will provide beautiful views of Jost van Dyke and Tortola’s Soper’s Hole / West End. About half a mile after the Murphy House, there will be an intersection. You have the choice to continue on the Johnny Horn Trail to the Coral Bay Moravian Church or turn onto the Brown Bay Trail. We took the Brown Bay Trail which after 0.8 reaches Brown Bay Beach.
You will enter total wilderness and see dear, hermit crabs, conch shells, termite nests, huge Aloe Vera Plants and cacti.
The trail continues downhill on a moderate incline until you reach remote Brown Bay beach which you will most likely have to yourself.
Johnny Horn / Brown Bay Trail
The total length is 5 miles (out and back). Compared to the Caneel Hill Trail, this trail is relatively easy since there are no steep inclines. Most of the trail is in the shade so it does not get too hot. You still want to bring plenty of water and some snacks. It is advised to wear hiking boots or sneakers. The trail is relatively well maintained but in the Brown Bay Section you can always have the odd fallen tree or branches sticking into the trail.
Other St. John Trails
- Caneel Hill Trail
- Peace Hill Mini Trail
- Francis Bay Trail
- Reef Bay Trail
- Ram’s Head Trail
- Drunk Bay Trail
- Hike to Salomon Beach