The Guided Reef Bay Hike is Back: Sneak Peeks from This Week’s Tour!
by Hillary Bonner / News Of St John
On Monday afternoon I received an email from Paula Smail, Friends of Virgin Islands National Park Outreach Director:
“We are doing a test run on the guided Reef Bay Hike tomorrow and we have room for you if you would like to tag along.”
My answer was YES. Absolutely! For those of you not familiar with this amazing expedition led by Virgin Islands National Park Service Rangers and Friends staffers, it has literally just started again with public tours beginning next week on Mondays and Tuesdays. It is an extremely informative guided hike through some of the tallest trees on island and down the 2.6 mile traverse from Centerline Road to the Reef Bay Sugar Factory with a boat ride back to town as the grand finale. And it was one of the most amazingly informative and entertaining things I have done on St. John (yes, even I learned a lot!).
First thing’s first, before I get into the photo tour…yesterday’s training hike was led by NPS Ranger Mark Whitefoot and the group consisted of Friends staff and volunteers, a member of the Iowa State University team that is currently working on the mangrove restoration near Annaberg and a National Park Service Archeologist. Well, and me! Hikes in the future will be guided by either an NPS Ranger, Friends Program Coordinator, Mark Gestwicki (AKA Mark from the Park) or Friends Trail Manager Taylor White. Taylor and Mark G. both came along on this training and monitoring expedition in order to gain more knowledge but also provide their own insights to Ranger Mark’s crazy amount of knowledge of this area of St. John that is vastly important to the island’s history.