The Mastic Trail is the main hiking trail on Grand Cayman, and for seasoned hikers with an interest in native birds and plants, it does not disappoint. The restored 200-year-old footpath passes through a 2-million-year-old reserve at the heart of the island. About a 50-minute drive from George Town, the trail showcases the Mastic Reserve's natural attractions, including a native mangrove swamp and an ancient woodland. Over the course of the 2.3 miles, you'll move through the islands various ecosystems, and ascend to its highest point. You'll likely see a bananaquit and hear a parrot, both endemic to the island. Because of the rocky terrain, the hiking can be challenging. On some stretches of the trail you'll be climbing over jagged, eroded limestone, so wear sturdy hiking shoes.
The southern end of the trail is located off Frank Sound Road close to the Botanical Park, and the northern trailhead starts just off Further Road, on the North Side in the direction of Rum Point. The turnoff for the trail is clearly marked and the trail is about 1/2 mile inland, which is also clearly marked. The northern trailhead is often flooded during periods of prolonged rainfall, so approach the trail from the south after a rain.
Guided tours organized by the Cayman Islands National Trust are scheduled every Wednesday at 9am, and every fourth Saturday, also at 9am. Tours last between two and three hours, and are limited to a maximum of 15 hikers. Reservations are strongly recommended, and the cost is CI$24 per person. The hike is not recommended for children 5 and under, the elderly, or persons with physical disabilities. Be sure to carry water.
For tour reservations, contact the National Trust (345/949-0121; www.nationaltrust.org.ky). If the scheduled times for these organized tours aren't convenient for you, you can stop into the headquarters of the National Trust on South Church Street, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, for a self-guided walking tour/map of the trail. The map, which costs CI$5, describes the botanical and geological features you're likely to see en route.