Petroglyphs reef Bay Trail

Brown Bay Trail
Excerpted From St. John Off The Beaten Track
By Gerald Singer

Trail Description
The Brown Bay Trail runs between the East End Road (Route 10) just east of Estate Zootenvaal, and the Johnny Horn Trail. The beach at Brown Bay is 0.8 mile from either end of the trail making a total distance of 1.6 miles.

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From East End to the beach at Brown Bay
If your destination is the beach at Brown Bay, the easier access is from the trail entrance at East End. Starting from the Coral Bay Moravian Church, go east about a mile on the East End Road. You will pass Estate Zootenvaal and then cross a small concrete bridge. Turn left just after the bridge and park on the dirt road. An animal watering trough and an old well remaining from subsistence farming days can be found on the low flat ground on the west side of the trail near the road. Twenty yards up the dirt track you will come to a fork in the road. The right fork is the beginning of the Brown Bay Trail.

Brown Bay Trail St. John Virgin Islands

Hikers on Brown Bay Trail

This section of the Brown Bay Trail will take you from the south side of St. John, up a hill, over the ridge and down to the north side of the island. At the ridge you will have reached an altitude of 200 feet above sea level.

As you walk along the trail you will quite likely encounter feral donkeys and small herds of goats that roam freely through the bush.

On the south side of the hill you will see pipe organ cactus, century plants, maran bush, catch-and-keep and wild tamarind, which are characteristic of this cactus scrub environment. Among the larger trees found in the vicinity are tamarinds and genips, which usually bear fruit in the summer months.

Be careful not to step on the cacti that lie low on the ground and are known locally as suckers. The spines can be quite painful and hard to dislodge if you get stuck.

There is a fine southerly view of Coral Bay just before the trail switches back to the right for the first time. You can look out over Coral Harbor, Princess Bay, Hurricane Hole and Leduck Island.

Crossing over the top of the ridge you’ll begin your descent into the Brown Bay Valley. The north side of St. John typically gets more rain than the south side resulting in a thicker coverage of trees and a more tropical environment, a phenomenon you will quickly notice as you cross from one side of the mountain to the other.

As you descend into the valley you will be treated to beautiful views of the Sir Francis Drake Channel and the bordering British Virgin Islands

At the bottom of the hill, take the short spur trail to get to the beach at Brown Bay or continue on the same trail that will intersect with the Johnny Horn Trail.

The Johnny Horn Trail to the beach at Brown Bay - an alternate approach
If you are beginning this walk from the Johnny Horn Trail, proceed to the intersection of the Johnny Horn and Brown Bay Trails. The Brown Bay Trail is to the left and goes downhill.

About 20 yards from the intersection is a scenic overlook. On a clear day there is an excellent view to the east all the way to the Baths at Virgin Gorda, including Fallen Jerusalem, Round Rock, and Cooper and Salt Islands.

At the bottom of the hill the trail crosses a gut and continues east on flat land. At the gut crossing there are several genip trees and a large tamarind tree. Donkeys and goats often congregate around this area.

The trail passes alongside a salt pond for about a quarter mile. A little past the salt pond is a short spur trail to the left that leads to the beach at Brown Bay. The Brown Bay Trail continues to East End Road, just east of Estate Zootenvaal.

The Ruins
Brown Bay has some of the most extensive ruins on the island of St. John.