For many of those who visit and live in Antigua, they know that there’s more to the island than our famed 365 beaches. The beach is truly “just the beginning” as there are numerous hidden areas that Antigua has to offer. Despite not being known as a hiking destination, the island has a number of hiking trails begging to be explored. These trails are great for those of you who love to explore, are interested in the natural beauty of Antigua, or who just want to get some exercise. Here are some of the top hiking trails in Antigua and Barbuda.
Hiking Trails in Antigua and Barbuda – An overview
The main hiking trails can be found in three main areas: Christian Valley, Nelson’s Dockyard, and Wallings Dam.
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Christian Valley is located to the south west of the island, and can be entered from the village of Jennings. This heavily forested area has a number of trails which are excellent for viewing a number of rare and endangered bird species. The three main trails in this area are the Northern Loop, the Central Valley, and the Southern Loop.
Northern Loop – The Northern loop ranges from easy to moderate difficulty, and begins to the east of the Mount Obama monument. On this trail you will see both grassy meadows and forest, along with views of the Valley, Southern Mountains and Mount Obama.
Central Valley – The central valley is the least difficult of the trails. Follow the path into the Agricultural Station before turning right past the Mount Obama Monument not far from the gate. Along the way you will see the remnants of a stream. If you are visiting after a significant amount of rainfall, you will also meet a small waterfall at the end of the trail
Southern Loop – The most challenging of the trails, this trail has steep sections with uneven footing. This trail begins on the Summit Trail before turning eastward through the forest and following the creek edges. In places steps have been installed to make hiking a bit easier. This trail continues east before looping back onto the Valley road where some of the largest trees in the area can be seen.
Nelson’s Dockyard National Parks Trails
The Nelson’s Dockyard Trails are located within the Nelson’s Dockyard National Parks area, which is an area of both historical and environmental significance, especially with the presence of extensive 18th century naval fortifications in the area.
Middle Ground Trail – The Middle Ground Trail ranges from moderate to difficult. To take this trail, you’ll need to enter Nelson’s Dockyard then walk right along the marina until you see the sign saying Fort Berkley. Following the tracks to Fort Berkley, you’ll have scenic views of the surrounding area including Galleon Beach and The Pillars of Hercules. Back along the fort, go left by the sign for Middle Ground. Along the way you will see an open plain where Amerindian artifacts have been discovered. Follow the white dots on the rocks as well as the available steps, and you will come to Middle Ground, where the foundation of Middle Ground Barracks is still present. Continuing along the trail, you will also pass remains of Fort Cuyler, offering fantastic views of Falmouth Harbour, Fort Charles, and Redonda and St Kitts in the distance. Further along you will pass gun platforms and the foundations of the old armory. On your descent, there will be steps, and at the bottom of the steps will be the end of the trail at Pigeon Beach.
Lookout Trail – A relatively easy trail, the Lookout trail starts at the Lookout at Shirley Heights. Start at the Lookout Trail sign located to the extreme right of the Lookout. This clearly marked trail is relatively easy, and along the way you will notice a number of trees have been identified and marked. Along the trail is a large rock outcropping with gorgeous views of Galleon Beach and Freeman’s Bay. The end of the trail is marked by a relatively steep descent before leading to the road to Galleon Bay where the trail ends. For a much more challenging hike, start from the bottom and work your way up to the Lookout.
Wallings Dam Trails
The Wallings Dam area is a heavily forested area located in the southern part of the island. The Dam itself was finished in 1900. Since then, the area has become an important watershed and attractive forested area with a number of rare bird species.
Wallings Dam to Rendezvous Bay – From the Wallings Dam, follow the clearly marked trail up the hill. After reaching the diverging path, take the one on the right. You will go down, before going back up a bit. You will then reach a clearing with lemon grass, from which you can see valley below and Rendezvous Bay in the distance. From here there is a clear path which becomes wider and follows a rusty fence. Following the track, you will hit a small lagoon bordered by a beach. The first right turn will take you to Rendezvous from where you can enjoy the beach!
Wallings Dam to Signal Hill – Following the main path from Wallings Dam, take the left turn when you hit the diverging path. This path will lead you up the hill, until you meet some unusual flat rocks. Go through the gate on the trail, and you will come to a cleared hollow. Continue on the trail for another 10 minutes and you will reach the summit, which offers views from the second highest point in Antigua and Barbuda.
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