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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Unforgettable Runs: The Trails of St. John USVI



A novice runner might remark that it's best to stick to the treadmill when vacationing on the tropical island of St. John.  But if you are passionate about running and are up for some hills, then this post is for you.

The incline running on St. John is no joke.  Think I'm kidding?  Click HERE for a peek at Jacob's Ladder, the name of the hill that I started most of my runs with last week (we stayed at the Westin, which is shown in the video as well).  The video goes on to show the hills that I ran if I decided to turn left out of our villa- and running up that hill is no less of a feat.

My point?

Get ready for some fun!  It's a challenge, but the running is gorgeous and the views are spectacular as your rise and fall with the landscape of the island.  The most unforgettable runs I had on the island were all via Cruz Bay.  I headed that way (up Jacob's Ladder) and made my way through town to the seaside.  It's important to note that you cars drive on the left on St. John.  That means you run on the right side of the road when there's no sidewalk.  The sidewalks can be pretty spotty, and nonexistent in the residential areas, so I stuck mainly to the roads.  Keep in mind, however, that if there is a sharp or blind turn, you should get on the side of the road that will give a car the most visibility of you approaching.  Keep alert and try to run early in the day (before 9 a.m.) to avoid the crippling heat, as well.

There, now that the moms out there- including my own- are breathing a sigh of relief, let's move on to the fun stuff: The actual trails!  There are an abundance of them on the island.  Just past Mongoose Junction in Cruz Bay, is the entrance to the national park.  Trail heads pop up frequently from that point on, but it was easiest to hop on the trails at the very first sign directly past Mongoose Junction on the right hand side.  From there, I scrambled up the roots and rocks for a very hard couple of miles before reaching Margaret Hill.  The vista from the top is absolutely worth the climb!  I was in awe, breathless as I whispered a prayer of thanks for the experience.  From there, you can choose to continue straight and make your way down, or come back the way you came.  If you turn back the way you came, definitely branch off a few minutes down.  A short trail will lead you to the road and right across the road is a short trail down to Solomon Beach and Caneel Bay Resort.  This particular series of trails is actually pretty flat, so that's a definite reprieve for the legs.

The 400 meter loop on the resort
was how I warmed up for my runs each day

 Directly to the right of this building, is where you'll find the trailheads for the national park


Another awesome area to hit is Chocolate Hole, which has some really neat views of its own.  I loved the trails, but I also hit the countryside a bit because I'm also a real-estate nerd and can't pass up the chance to see some wicked awesome houses during my run!  I will warn you though: No matter which direction you go, wild chickens; iguanas; donkeys and deer are fair game.  That's just part of the adventure!  In the direction of Chocolate Hole, if you're wanting a stretch of flat before you tackle some more altitude, turn right on Roman Road, right past the Westin on Southside.  It's a great 800ish meter loop that is gravel and relatively flat.  It was my "reward" at the end of some of my runs.

Whichever direction you go, you are bound to encounter some amazing scenery, wildlife and hills that will stretch you as a runner and individual.  Don't be afraid to get at it and explore the island!  The locals are extremely friendly and I felt very safe during my runs- aside from some chicken encounters.

I still miss the views, but I sure do love the memories.  I hope you all get a chance to visit and run on the island of St. John.  It is unforgettable, for sure.  And if this post leaves you itching for a run, check out some of my other Unforgettable Run reviews.

Live with joy!

Love,
Hannah

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