We love St John trail running! Sadly the island got slammed with two hurricanes in the fall and is still recovering. The campground at Cinnamon bay was by far the nicest place on the island and we hope that they rebuild it. Kenny Chesney has set up a foundation to help raise money to help rebuild the island and it is awesome to see him bring so many people together to help repair the broken island.
I love so many things about St John, my favorite being the incredible trails, the awesome people the low key vibe, the beautiful snorkeling and beaches! There is something special about that island.
What are the trails like? Are there dangerous creatures are there? What is the weather like?
The trails are amazing! They are rugged, steep and fun! The offer wonderful views and you can run through lush forests and arid desert. The Trail Bandit map is pretty sweet and will help guide you through over 30 miles of trail!
There really are not any dangerous creatures on the island. You will see donkeys, goats, iguana, lizards, hermit crabs, mosquitos, snakes and cats. There are some to watch out for in the water such as jelly fish, sea urchins, barracuda and nurse sharks. (The worse we experienced was being stung by a jellyfish)
The weather is hot, it typically rains for a few minutes at night. It is not very windy so the camping can be quite muggy. We just leave the fly off of the tent and use the tarp for shade and rain protection. The sun is very bright so be sure to bring good sunglasses and sunblock!
Which side of the road do they drive on? Is there camping? Are there flights that go to the island?
Driving is done on the left side of the road even though the steering wheel is on the left side of the car. The roads are very steep with a lot of twists and turns. It is a very easy island to navigate so you won’t have to worry about getting lost.
There was camping and hopefully will be again. Cinnamon Bay was the nicest campground! They had very nice outside showers with private stalls and clean toilets and sinks. The campsites all had cooking grates and fire rings. They were very well kept and I highly suggest bringing a tarp or buying one while you are out there to hang over your site as it does rain sometimes for a few minutes.
There are no flights to St John, you will have to fly to St Thomas and take a ferry. There are ferries that run from most of the islands in the area so fly into whichever is easier for you. The ferry ride is about 25 minutes. We typically rent a car in St Thomas to make things easier. There are two ferries that you can take. Currently you can only use the Red Hook Ferry as Charlotte Amalie is no longer running.
Is it expensive? Do you need a passport?
St John is located in the USVI. Hotels can be expensive but you can rent places for reasonable prices through AirBNB. I have not stayed at any of the hotels but most are located in Cruz Bay. Caneel Bay had a lovely resort but I have heard that they will not be rebuilding after the storm. The best meal I ever had was at ZoZo’s which was in Caneel Bay.
Expect to pay around $20-$60 for dinner (more in some of the fancy places). Lunch is typically $10-20 and we ate breakfast for $5 at the Starfish market. Drinks range from $5-12 unless you hit up one of the many happy hour specials which are between $1-5.
You do need to bring your passport for the return back to the United States. There was a very short and easy customs line and it did not take long to get into the terminal at the airport. Plan on being there 2-3 hours prior to your departure time. There is plenty of food inside the terminal.
Aside from St Johnntrail running are there other activities? Do they have trail races on the island?
There are so many different things to do on the Island! You can snorkel at one of the many beautiful beaches, take excursions to other islands, fish, relax on the beach, kite surf, sail, kayak, shop and so much more! It really is a place that has it all!
Have you ever wondered what it is like running in the White Mountains of New Hampshire?
I might be biased but living in the White Mountains is nothing short of incredible! I have been to many places and the only place even remotely close to the trails and mountains in the Whites is Alaska. If you want to experience the hardest terrain in the country then you need to visit New Hampshire and check out our mountains!
What are the trails like? What kind of scary animals do you need to watch out for? Can you camp? Are there any races in the White Mountains?
The trails are loaded with rocks. Honestly, you will be speed hiking most of it and as a result you really should not attempt to actually run the White Mountains until you are comfortable running on technical trails. I started out by hiking the Whites and eventually transitioned to running them. The weather is unpredictable and the trails are very rugged and remote. Plan on the miles ticking by much slower than you are used to.
New Hampshire has bear, rare mountain lion sightings, moose (which are more dangerous than bear), black flies, mosquitos, deer flies and porcupine (more of a hazard for your curious pup)
There are some great races in the White Mountains and if the runners can help to keep the trails clean during the race and be respectful to hikers there will be more! Right now these are a few of the trail races in the White Mountains. They are all wicked fun and well organized!
Mount Chocorua Race- 14 mile course with a mix of smooth single track, steep slabs, slippery rocks, significant elevation gain, and killer views from the summit!
Kilkenny Ridge Race-a 26 mile traverse across the Kilkenny ridge which brings you to the top of two New Hampshire 4000 foot mountains. There is a 50 mile distance that will be an out and back on the ridge. A great mix of technical trails, great single track, summit views and beautiful forest!
Randolph Ramble-a 10 kilometer-long, rugged, self-supported trail race through the Great North Woods in the mountain town of Randolph, New Hampshire, at the base of the Northern Presidentials.
Kismet Cliff Run- a five-mile race that navigates the rollercoaster trails of Cathedral and Whitehorse Ledges. A great mix of single track and double track with great views of Cathedral ledge and Echo Lake. There is also a half marathon that takes you over North Moat Mountain which offers incredible views and strenuous climbing!
White Lake Ultras – A 6, 12, and 24 hour loop course around White Lake. Not very techical but the 2.4 mile loop is very scenic and fun! Camping right at the start/finish.
Cranmore Mountain Race-This race offers great single track, ski trails and a very well organized event! It is about 6.2 miles long.
Loon Mountain race-Although this is not a technical course it is extremely steep and challenging with the Upper Walking Boss being the crux of the race. The course is 6.6 miles long. The views are incredible and it also serves as the mountain running championship race.
Is it expensive? Do you need special gear? What are the rules regarding dogs, trash, navigation in the White Mountains? Do you need permits?
New Hampshire is not very expensive to visit and there are many great places to get food and drinks. Our economy thrives on tourism so please visit the small local businesses! One of our favorites is Delaneys in North Conway because they serve food until 11pm, have awesome American style food and drinks and have incredible sushi! You can’t go wrong with so many places to pick from! Check out Peaches for breakfast, it is small but has wonderful breakfast food in a quaint setting!
You do not need special gear to run the mountains but you will want to carry more than you think you need. Plan to move around 2-3 miles an hour. 3-4mph is considered fast. Be respectful of hikers and always be a good ambassador! Most people will cheer you on and let you by if you are polite and give them plenty of notice that you are coming up on them.
I think the La Sportiva Akyra is the best shoe for the White Mountains. They offer killer traction and cushion. You want to have good traction. The rocks can be very slippery! I always carry a windbreaker with me and a light pair of gloves and a light hat. I have been in a snowstorm in the summer! It can be 80 degrees down low and 30 up high, if a thunderstorm creeps up on you there may even be hail.
You may want to cary a space blanket. Two liters of water is wise and a filter or life straw. I love the MSR Trail Shot! There are some great lightweight filters out there! Most water crossings are on maps but some routes can be very dry in the summer with very little to filter. I carry a mid size running pack in the summer and a bigger one in the winter.
Winter can be a challenge with water. Most water sources are frozen and bottles or packs can freeze. We use a Platypus to hold water inside our packs and place it against our back to keep it from freezing.
In the winter you will want a puffy jacket, hand warmers, warm mittens and hat and possibly an extra layer. Carry more food than you think you need. The huts have water and you can buy treats which can make you happy on a hot day or if you run out of food! Bring cash. The huts operate on a seasonal schedule so be sure to check to see if they are open.
You should always carry a map. If you plan on going above treeline it helps with finding bail out routes during bad storms or white out conditions.
The White Mountains live by a Leave No Trace Ethic. Please pack out everything including food scraps. There has been an issue over the last few years with trash and feces with toilet paper/baby wipes on the trail. Nobody needs to see that and the forest service is overwhelmed with trying to clean up the mess. If you have to relieve yourself and need to know the rules follow this link.
What is the Hike Safe Card? Are the mountains dangerous? Where can I find out about trail conditions and weather?
The Hike Safe Card is an affordable rescue insurance plan that you can buy. This is not going to cover being wreckless or negligence. You still need to carry the appropriate gear, adequate food and water, a map, etc. Cell phones do not work in most of the Whites so do not depend on that either.
You should never plan on a rescue and your goal should always be to get yourself out of a situation on your own. There are many organizations in New Hampshire that teach mountain skills and if you are not comfortable venturing into the mountains yet take a course! Remember each rescuer is a volunteer. The Forest Service is under funded and can’t afford to keep up with the number of rescues they have had to deal with over the last few years. Just be safe and take care of yourself and you will be fine!
There are some wonderful places to check the trail conditions and the weather. Here are my favorite websites:
NOAA Recreational Forecast:Short term detailed forecast for various elevations. Great for deciding which mountains to do based on winds, clouds and overall weather.
Higher Summits Forecast: This is perfect for the short term weather forecast on the higher summits. Best for summits over 5000 feet!
See the Northern Lights: Yes, you can see the northern lights in New Hampshire! The best times to see them are from late March-April and August-September
Best time to visit New Hampshire
The best time to visit New Hampshire is during the winter or summer. The shoulder seasons can be very icy and the mountains can hold onto the snow even into June and the snow and ice can start in September. There are only a couple of campgrounds open in the winter and many to choose from in the summer.
You should put a trip to the White Mountains on your bucket list! The trail races are a great way to follow a marked trail with aid stations so we hope you can come experience what the White Mountains have to offer!