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St. Petersburg, FL, USA

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Great Fort George Monk's Hill Trail & National Park, Antigua

November 20, 2017

Map of Falmouth Harbour and the hiking trail to the north

 

This will be my last day of hiking on Antigua.  Our catamaran is anchored about 2/3 of the way south in Falmouth Harbour, so Ted, the boat owner, gave me a ride to the Catamaran Marina on the north end of the harbor.  I still don't know exactly where to pick up the trail but start walking up to the main road anyway.  The plan is to stop in a shop and ask people where the trailhead is.

 

The first few places I ask about the trail, people don't know anything about it, but as I walk out of one shop, a guy comes up to me who had heard me ask and goes into detail about how to reach the trail.  With that little bit of luck, I head down the road.  When I reach the spot of the trailhead (Cobbs Cross), I make a turn onto a blacktop road.  A little ways down the road it forks, and this is where I wish I had paid closer attention to directions.  So, I go ennie meenie, miney moe and take the right fork. 

 

The right fork takes me into a residential area.  Actually the whole lower trail is residential, which throws me from the start.  I walk as far as I can until I'm stopped by a dog, which is standing in the road and barking like crazy at me.  It's obvious this is a dare by the dog to try to pass him.  I decline to challenge his dare and turn around.    I have Google Maps on my phone and look at the area.  It looks like I should have gone left instead of right at the earlier fork.  I walk back the way I came to where the fork is.  This time I take the left fork.

 In the bottom right of the picture is a red circle around the Cobb Cross Junction name.  Just to the right of that red circle is a teal circle showing the road fork where I took the wrong fork.

 

The road continues past houses and eventually the blacktop ends and the houses are no more.  Finally, this looks right.  I continue up a deeply rutted, dirt road until I get to the top and another fork.  I take the right fork again and once again, it turns out to be the wrong choice.  After retracing my steps and turning onto the left fork, I start heading up again.

 Taking a breather with my selfie stick.  It was hot as you can see from my soaked t-shirt

 

Just a short ways past the fork, I arrive at the Fort George Monk's Hill National Park and my destination.  The elevation at the park is about 600 feet and the highest I have been on the island so far.  Other areas of the island go as high as 1,200 feet but not here.

 This is a gate into the fort

 

Inside the fort is a large, flat, grassy area.  I don't know if you could call this a bald or even a meadow.  Suffice it to say, though, that there was nothing up here but grass, a few shrubs and the remains of the fort.  The following was taken from the AntiguaOutdoors.com web site.

 

"Fort George was an important and large defense post built in the late 17th century, overlooking Falmouth Harbour. The perimeter of the massive fortifications exceeds a kilometer; the whole fort is now overrun by nature, and gives out an eerie feeling of 'lost jungle city'. The walls are built of distinctive green stone, and a large once paved track leads to the viewpoint at the summit, offering what is probably the best views of Falmouth Harbour and Nelson's Dockyard. There is also an uninterrupted view of the northern and eastern plain, that one is left to enjoy in perfect tranquility... hardly anyone ever comes here."

 

As the information from the web site states, "hardly anyone ever comes here" and for certain I am alone.  The view of the harbor is stunning.  I decide to just hang out here for a while and enjoy the solitude and view.

After hanging around taking in the view, I start retracing my path.  The hike up was pretty easy, which was mostly due to still having my hiking legs from my AT hike.  I had left the Appalachian Trail just six weeks ago, so I was still acclimated to climbing.  Aside from that, the trail was not that steep.  I walked past Cobbs Cross junction and onto the main road where I stopped under a tree and called Ted for a ride on the portable marine radio, which I was carrying.  I still had about twenty minutes of walking to get to the Catamaran Marina.  Ted was already there when I arrived, and he took me into the Antigua Yacht Club Marina for a rest and to get something to drink.

 

Supposedly, there is a rain forest on the island, but nobody seems to know where it is.  It certainly was not in or near any of the three areas where I hiked.  If I ever get back here, I will have to find it.

 

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