Mount Sage National Park is the 92 acre terrestrial keystone of the BVI National Parks. The highest peak in all the Virgin Islands at 1716 feet, Mount Sage has a semi rain forest, interesting trails and spectacular views (see our cover page banner).
Climatology. The warm, moist air of the tradewinds rise over Tortola's mountainous terrain and drop their moisture in localized rain just to the northwest of Mount Sage's summit, in an area naturally sheltered by its topography from drying winds and strong sunlight.
North Coast Overlook. The entrance off ridge road leads to a car parking area and adjoining restaurant (to review). Here without further effort for the hiking disinclined is a great vista that sweeps panoramically from Jost Van Dyke, with the Tobagoes further back to little Sandy Cay in front, across the North Coast to St. Thomas.
Trails. The Central Trail, popularly called the Rainforest Trail, leads down the ridge with the North and South trails on either side. Another trail, popularly called the Mahogany Forest Trail, leads to the peak.
Guavaberry. The Central Trail has labeled plants including the guavaberry used to make the traditional Christmas spirits by steeping the berries with spices in rum.
Hermit Crab. Here might be seen the hermit crab who likes to live in whelk shells. From high up on Mt. Sage, the hermit crab travels down to the sea each year to mate, lay eggs and find a new marine shell for an abode. See more on the hermit crab here.
The Steps. Two-thirds of the way on the right, The Steps is a very popular bisecting trail, with wooden stairs leading down through lush vines, rock formations and carpets of moss.
Epiphytes or "Air Plants." Tree trucks are covered in epiphytes or "air plants" that use other plants for support but grow their own food without contacting the ground.
Bo-Peep Tree Frog. One epiphyte found here, a large rosette Bromeliad called the Guzmania, forms a natural vase collecting rain water into pools for various tree frogs, including the Bo-Peep, found only in the BVI and known for its seemingly "amplified" namesake call.
Elephant Ear Vine. On the North Trail, turning right coming in (here is a picnic area with a charcoal grill), is the best semi rain forest area, the location of the Elephant Ear Vine, a giant Philodendoron.
Bulletwood. Near the end of this trail is the most preserved area of the park with Bulletwood trees, a valuable timber with large, tall, straight trunks, whose wood resembles mahogany.
Fig Tree. At the far end, the point joining all three trails, an enormous banyan or wild fig tree, extends its numerous aerial roots from its branches down to the ground, forming a "trunk forest" sculpture of Nature's work (see "Fish Fry" fig).
Mahogany. On the South Trail, areas of true West Indian Mahogany, native to the Greater Antilles, have been planted. This drier trail is a good place to spot some of the abundant lizards.
White Cedar. Here also is the White Cedar, native to the BVI and its national tree, often planted in the islands as an ornamental tree bearing masses of pale pink trumpet blossoms in the spring. The wood is traditionally used in construction and for the ribs of boats. See Traditional Life in the BVI.
Channel Overlook. On the way back to the parking lot, the Joseph R. O'Neal trail, an alternative to the peak trail, has a short spur that leads to an overlook with panoramic views across the Sir Francis Drake Channel of outlying islands from Virgin Gorda to St. John's.
Tree Fern. Just inside the side gate, before the steep, rocky trail back to the car park, the Joseph Hodge Trail is the habitat of a West Indian species of the ancestral tree fern, from the days of the dinosaurs.
Raptors. In open areas here, birds of prey, like the American Kestrel (known locally as the Kili Kili Hawk), are often seen perched in trees. High overhead, the Red Tailed Hawk may be soaring on the updrafts.
See also Sage Mountain: A Splash of Green in a Land of Blue. Contact the National Parks Trust for a brochure on Sage Mountain.
National Parks Trust.