Sage Mountain National Park, Tortola

An easy half-day walk starting with great views of Jost Van Dyke.

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It's not often you can hike an entire national park in a leisurely two hours, but that is part of the charm of the 92-acre Sage Mountain National Park on Tortola, the capital, and largest island in the British Virgins.

Consisting of several short trails, the park has relatively few visitors even though it offers one of the most scenic views in all the islands.

Trailhead: The park is easy to find. Drive up Joe's Hill Road to the top of the hill, turn right and keep climbing until the next intersection. A sign points left to Sage Mountain. Follow the road to its end.

Part of the road is quite steep and unpaved, a challenge in rainy weather, but don't give up. You'll know you've arrived when you see a small dirt parking lot on the right and the magnificent view of Jost Van Dyke in the distance.

A single path leads to the trails, which interconnect. The access trail is gravel-covered and at first skirts the edge of Sage Mountain.

At 1,780 feet, it is the highest point in either the British or U.S. Virgin Islands. The park area was donated to the British Virgin Island government in the 1960s by Laurance Rockefeller. A concerted effort has been made to reforest the area.

At the outset, don't concentrate entirely on the panoramic view of Jost Van Dyke. Bovine droppings lumped among the gravel call for vigilance.   

That hazard is left behind at the swinging wooden gate leading into the longest path, the Rain Forest Trail, and the short side excursion, the Henry Adams Loop Trail. The gate is kept latched (but not locked) to keep the poop off the loop. It's 10-15 minutes from the parking lot to this first gate.

The rain forest trails, however, is not through true rain forest. The mountain receives less than 100 inches of rain annually, so the park consists of both moist and dry forest.

As you hike these trails listen carefully for the "Bo-peep" frog, named after its distinctive call. The frog is found only on Tortola and Virgin Gorda

If you want to arrange a guide, contact the National Trust in advance: www.bvinationalparkstrust.org .

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