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Trails - Mastic Trail


What is the Mastic Trail?

The answer to this question is complex and can best be answered by a walk on the Trail itself. The Mastic Trail is a wilderness experience. It is a real hike in the woods. It is deep shade, old-growth forest and a stronghold for the Cayman Island’s Parrot. It is native songbirds, endemic and medicinal plants, and it is a good workout! It is lush green meadows; it is Cayman’s early history, it is a geology lesson. It is a complete change from brilliant waters, bright sunshine and beaches. It is a surprise. Most people, even some of those born and raised in the Cayman Islands, never knew that there was such a forest – yes, a forest – on this busy and well-developed island.

As you enter this historic trail, used for two centuries by Caymanians traveling between the north and south coasts, you will pass through a mosaic of habitats and ecosystems.

The trail begins in the Black Mangrove Forest - mysterious, gothic and fascinating. As the land rises, the foliage changes and becomes more diverse. A variety of tropical trees and native birds surround you. Moving through the forest, you pass Silver Thatch “Walks,” trees festooned with orchids, stately Royal Palms, and bizarre Calabash trees with huge gourds growing from their trunks. In due course, you reach the highest point on Grand Cayman - our “continental divide” at sixty feet above sea level and marked with a small metal stake. 

The trail is working its magic now and the rest of the world seems far away, but the best is still ahead. A stunning Yellow Mastic Tree crowns the trail, towering over the forest, draped in balsam roots and providing a home for a wide variety of native wildlife. As you sit to rest on the roots of this huge tree, you are in the “heart of the Mastic” surrounded by a forest that has been continuously above water and undisturbed for two million years!

As you continue along the path, you will pass a hundred different species of trees and over five hundred varieties of endemic native plants. A feeling of peace - almost euphoria, envelops the hiker who is immersed in this untouched part of the forest. You are pleasantly exercised, breathing freshly manufactured oxygen from the plant life all around, surrounded by birdsong and beauty, excited by the unusual animals you have spotted and just two thirds of the way along the trail.

Various points of interest line the next section of the Mastic Trail, from the “giraffe trees” (so named because of their unusual shape) to the mysterious fissure zone, to the old coastline of the island, where 125,000 years ago the ocean lapped the shore.

As you emerge into the sunny agricultural land at the north end of the trail, and back to civilization, take a moment to look back at the green ridge which you have just left and reflect upon all that it holds. You have been privileged to glimpse an ancient forest and an amazing variety of plants and wildlife. You now know what the Mastic Trail is, and will want to return again and again with friends and family to escape the cares of the world and experience the beauty and tranquility that is found in abundance on the trail.

The National Trust owns four hundred acres of the Mastic Trail that have been declared “inalienable”. This land will never be cleared or developed and cannot be sold. The Trust is raising funds to purchase the remaining six hundred acres. Funds raised from the sale of the Trust’s new Mastic Trail Guide will be earmarked for this purpose and donations are gratefully accepted and deposited in a special account fittingly called “Forests Forever”.

The Mastic Trail is not a loop trail. To arrange a guided hike, visit nationaltrust.org.ky and email them through their site, or phone the National Trust.


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