Mastic 2 Aj Mc Govern

The Mastic Reserve on Grand Cayman protects part of the largest contiguous area of untouched, old-growth dry forest remaining on the island. This area and other similar expanses of forest in Cayman are of international significance representing some of the last remaining examples of the Caribbean's dry, subtropical, semi-deciduous dry forest, which have been the target of particularly intense deforestation throughout the West Indies.


Mastic Trail Tours

Experience a fascinating trail that explores deep into Cayman’s wild interior.

Recommended ages: 8-70

3.5 Hours
From CI$50

Additional Information

The first origins of the Mastic Trail date back at least 120 years ago when a causeway of mahogany logs and beach rocks was created at the southern end of the trail to assist passage across a deep mangrove wetland. For a while, the trail was a major thoroughfare, but later as the coastal roads and the modern Frank Sound Road were established and upgraded, the trail fell into disuse and became overgrown.

It is hard for residents and visitors to appreciate the value of Cayman’s natural heritage unless they can see it for themselves; it was with this thought in mind that we re-opened part of an old footpath through the area. In 1994, work started on restoring the trail. The local Rotary Club toiled for many hours to reopen the original footpath, cutting through about 8,000-feet of fallen trees and dense shrubbery. Barrow loads of crushed rock had to be brought in manually to restore the traditional causeway.

On April 21, 1995, the 2.3-mile Mastic Trail was officially dedicated and opened to the public.

The reserve features a variety of habitats: mangrove wetland, stands of Royal Palms and Silver Thatch Palms, abandoned agricultural land and ancient dry forest. Rare trees, such as Cedar and Mahogany, as well as a huge Mastic tree, can be seen along the Mastic Trail. In June, the Wild Banana Orchid – the national flower of the Cayman Islands – blooms on the trail.

Cayman’s native parrot is also at home here, as is the West Indian Woodpecker and the Caribbean Dove, the latter of which is only seen in undisturbed areas. Other animals include butterflies, lizards, harmless snakes, frogs, large hermit crabs and nests of termites.

On the trail, walkers get the chance to experience a fascinating exploration deep into Cayman’s wild interior, in an area where the woodland has been evolving undisturbed for the last two million years. The guided walk takes approximately three hours to complete.

Please do not take your dog on the Mastic Trail.

More information on the Mastic Reserve 
Grand Cayman’s Mastic Reserve protects a 840-acre portion of the largest contiguous section of old growth dry forest left on the island and can be explored via the 2.3-mile (one-way) out-and-back Mastic Trail. The southern trailhead is the traditional starting point for hikers. National Trust facilities here include a parking area, interpretive signage with information on wildlife, and a composting toilet.

A short distance from the trailhead the path enters a wetland forest. The lowest-lying area of the wetland is traversed by an extensive boardwalk under a shady canopy of Black Mangroves. This is followed by a section of seasonally flooded forest, a mix of towering tropical hardwoods such as Bitter Plum and Mahogany trees, and magnificent Royal Palms. The trail continues through an abandoned Mango orchard, followed by a raised rocky area known as the Fissure Zone, which features deep linear fractures in the bedrock.

After passing through another section of low-lying forest dominated by Royal Palms and Mahoganies, the trail rises onto jagged, karstic limestone, with no significant soil. This is the start of the ancient Old Growth Forest. The combination of remoteness and lack of soil have protected the forest from significant human disturbance. The trail gradually climbs and, as the elevation increases, so does the height of the tree canopy. Near the halfway point of the trail, hikers traditionally take a rest break beneath a towering Yellow Mastic Tree.

The trail continues through the ancient forest until reaching the northern edge of the rugged karstic platform, where a sharp drop represents an ancient shoreline, created approximately 125,000 years ago during the last major interglacial warming, when sea levels around the world were 20 feet above present day levels. From this point the trail continues north through an area that was historically cleared for agriculture as the ground is comparatively level, and there are significant pockets of soil. The land has however been abandoned for many years and is now covered in secondary forest. As the trail approaches the northern end it passes through several “grass pieces”, tracts of land where Guinea Grass was grown as fodder until a few decades ago. The trail then meanders through overgrown pastureland, before emerging at the northern trailhead next to a small produce farm. (Information provided by Caribbean Birding Trail)


Frank Sound Road
North Side, Grand Cayman

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