A “Magical” Discovery

cactus fish bay trail
For years, I’ve read about a special tree that stands tall, deep in the forest in Fish Bay. This tree – the baobab tree – is believed to be both sacred and magical in many parts of Africa. The cool thing is that there is one baobab tree on St. John, and on Tuesday, I set out to find it.

After reading Gerald Singer’s See St. John blog, I realized I could find the baobab tree from two different trails – either the L’Esperance trail that begins up on Centerline Road or a lesser known trail that begins in Fish Bay and connects to the L’Esperance trail. I chose the Fish Bay trail.

To access this trail, take Southside Road past the Westin and out toward Fish Bay. After driving about 10 minutes from town, you will see a small bridge. Cross this bridge and take an immediate left onto Cocolobo Trail. Follow Cocolobo until you see a concrete wall on your left with a small sign on it that says Skytop. Take a left there. Drive up the hill until you see a switchback. That’s where the trail begins. Park your Jeep on the side of the road, but not in the roadway of course.

fish bay bridge

Take a left after the small bridge

entrance to trail skytop

The trail starts to the right of the rocks

The trail at first is narrow and rocky at times. Follow this trail for about 10-15 minutes until it curves to the left. Continue on the trail and soon you will see to rocks that you will have to squeeze through. Once you pass through, you are pretty close to the L’Esperance trail. Once you hit the L’Esperance trail, take a left.

trail alternate view start

The trail is narrow at first

trail narrow rocky 15 mins take left

rock squeeze

You’re getting close to L’Esperance when you see this

Intersection of L'Esperance trail

Intersection of L’Esperance trail

Take a left once you get to the L’Esperance trail. Walk a few minutes until you see a small group of rocks on your left, which are placed at a small trail. This is the trail to the baobab tree.

rocks take left

As you walk down the trail, you will see the Sieben ruins. According to See St. John, “the Sieben plantation once covered more than 150 acres. The extensive ruins include the remains of the sugar factory, rum still, estate house and various other structures. In addition to sugar, Estate Sieben was one of the few estates to grow coffee.”

ruins

more ruins

You will notice a stone wall near the ruins. Walk over the wall – there is a small path – and behind it you will find the baobab tree.

rock wall climb

The baobab tree:

baobob tree

baobob side view

According to See St. John, “the first seeds from (the baobab) trees were brought to the Caribbean by enslaved Africans. Although there is only one baobob on St. John, St. Croix has more baobob trees than any other island in the Caribbean. The seed pods which are edible. They are filled with a dry powder tasting something like a sweet tamarind. They develop between February and June. The Baobob has also been called Guinea Almond on St. Croix and Guinea Tamarind on St. Thomas. The large white flowers open at night and are fertilized by bats.”

Random fact: The Tree of Life at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom is a baobab tree – a fake one of course.

Here’s some more info we found on the baobab tree:

“The amazing Baobab Tree is the most famous tree in the whole of Madagascar and also it’s national symbol. The people believe these massive trees hold the spirits of the death and that is why they are also referred to as the Sacred Baobab. Also in Africa, the Baobab Tree plays an important role in African culture. In ancient times, kings and other leaders would have their meetings under huge Baobabs to discuss matters of great importance. According to them, the Baobab Tree didn’t just provide shelter, but also holded magical properties which would aid them in making wise decisions.”

Pretty cool, isn’t it?

In total, it probably took about 30 minutes or so to get to the baobab tree from the Fish Bay trail. My dog Charlie, an Animal Care Center rescue, accompanied me so our journey was a bit longer. :)

charlie at baobob

13 comments for “A “Magical” Discovery

  1. Christy
    August 19, 2015 at 6:04 am

    Great write up!

  2. August 19, 2015 at 7:35 am

    Thank you for sharing this experience and the great photos. It’s a good reminder to those of us who think we know St. John well that there is always something new to explore!

  3. Michael Raley
    August 19, 2015 at 7:40 am

    Thanks for this! We thoroughly enjoy reading your “News” posts and this was a good one!

  4. Cindy Humphreys
    August 19, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Awesome! Thanks for the info. We saw those rocks when we were there in July. Too bad I didn’t know about the tree. We just ignored the pile of rocks and kept walking. Next time! I love seeing Charlie enjoying his new life! We walked him a few times when he was at the ACC. Such a sweet boy!

  5. Laura Franks
    August 19, 2015 at 8:51 am

    Great write up and pictures- I love baobab trees and had no idea there was one on St. John. Cool! Love seeing a pic of sweet Charlie, too! Always love all the News of St. John stories- thank you Jen!

  6. Donna Williams
    August 19, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Thank you for taking us along on your journey!!! I would have never seen this if you had not!!

  7. Margy
    August 19, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Thanks for the info. We will be taking this trail in September! Cute dog!!! Thanks for loving him!!

  8. Charlie Heath
    August 19, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Always nice to find something new to explore. Last time I was down, I tried to bushwack my way to an alternate trail near the reef bay trail that the trail bandit was mapping when I bumped into him on the reef bay trail two year ago, and couldn’t find the through trail but did find a nice new set of ruins I’d never seen, which I suppose is marked as ‘ruins’ along the Lamesur Bay trail branch off of the Reef Bay trail on the big topo map of St John.

  9. Philip Heilman
    August 19, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    Sieben plantation is the birthplace of Elroy Sprauve and was the Sprauve home for many years and was eventually sold by his father (or grandfather?) to the National Park Service as part of the deal. See “St. John Life in Five Quarters” for “Uncle Elroy’s” return visit to it several years ago. Say Hi to Elroy for Anne and I.

    • August 19, 2015 at 10:45 pm

      Great information about the trail and the meeting tree. I would want a dog like Charlie to hike with me as well.
      Thanks for adopting a rescue, they are truly a best friend to have, on a hike or any other place you may go.

  10. Ivette Pieterick
    July 25, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Thank you. We went on this trial thanks to you advice. Great to hike in the deep heat of STJ and find ruins and the Baobab tree too. Any more hikes not in Off the Trail book?
    Ivette

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