Jamaica Hiking: The Blue Mountain Trail – Sunrise Hike

Plan your vacation with Active Caribbean Travel – Have fun hiking Blue Mountain Peak Trail on Jamaica with a knowledgeable guide.

The Blue Mountain Trail – Trail Info, Local Hiking Guides & Tour Operators

Overview of Jamaica Blue Mountain sunrise hiking experience:

  • Time required: 5 – 8 hours round trip
  • Degree of Difficulty: 7 out of 10
  • Elevation: Just over 7,450 feet (2,270m) at the highest point.  Actual vertical hiked was just over 3,400 feet (1035m), as the trailhead began around 4,050 feet (1,235m) above sea level
  • Distance: About 11.5 miles (18.5km) round trip
  • Guide Required: YES – More from the point of view of following the local customs, and for confidence (You don’t have to worry about accidentally wandering off and getting lost on some random side-trail).  Also note that there is a nominal ($20usd per non resident) Park Fee required to hike in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (and all Jamaica Parks / Forests).

You can start this hike at a Rastafarian lodge situated on Blue Mountain.  After a meal of local red beans & rice, accompanied by various root vegetables, you settle down for a few hours rest/sleep. At 1:30am you wake-up, get dressed and meet the rest of the hiking group – Usually an assortment of locals and visitors to the island, accompanied by Rasta guides.

This hike will likely be very different than anything you’ve ever experienced, as you start off around 2 in the morning in order to catch the sunrise from the peak. It will be fairly cool in the middle of the night, so dress appropriately (in layers, for altitude hiking – not the usual Caribbean). The hike itself starts on an inclined rough road that feeds a couple of properties high in the Mountains. It will be dark, with your headlamps providing the only light. Within a few minutes you’ll be on the famous ‘Jacobs ladder’, which is a long and lazy switchback dirt and gravel road with many ‘washed out’ ruts. It’s fairly steep at this point and you’ll heat up, so you’ll likely want to peel off a layer or two of clothing…

Plan your vacation with Active Caribbean Travel – Have fun hiking Jamaica's Blue Mountain Peak with a knowledgeable guide.

The next section of trail is amazing as it is a well worn path that occasionally takes you through 3-4 foot wide and 3-6 foot deep trench like sections. You’re still going uphill, however it’s not very steep. Due to the darkness, you won’t see much of the trail in advance – Just put one foot in front of the other and kept moving.  You’ll probably want to focus your light and attention on the ground so as to keep your footing. You may come across donkeys standing around on the trail as they are used to haul supplies up to the Portland Gap Ranger station.

It may feel strange not knowing where you are on the mountain, however you’ll probably see some features of the near-by Mountain sides and you’ll feel a refreshing cool breeze as you cross the occasional ridge.

Once you pass through Portland gap, you’re on the final third section of the hike. Be aware, the temperature will likely drop again as you near the top of the mountain.  Suddenly, you’ll be there… At the peak, which is a large flat area with considerable scrub / bushes and a small tower. It will still be dark, so you’ll want to have all your layers of clothes back on again and grab a bite to eat while you wait for the sun to rise. To be clear – It can be very cold up there…  You’ll want to have a winter hat and gloves on!

Plan your vacation with Active Caribbean Travel – Have fun hiking Jamaica's Blue Mountain Peak with a knowledgeable guide.
Plan your vacation with Active Caribbean Travel – Have fun hiking Blue Mountain Peak Trail on Jamaica with a knowledgeable guide.

Take a look around (as best you can) – You’ll probably notice ‘something’ off in the distance in all directions.  As it becomes more and more light out, you’ll realize (Spoiler Alert) that the shapes all around you aren’t neighbouring mountain peaks, but are in fact clouds… You’re above the clouds! As the sun slowly climbs over the horizon, you’ll be able to see the surrounding valleys and distant mountain ranges, as well as Kingston’s twinkling lights below on the coast. You can also see Port Antonio’s distant lights on the other side of the island. Weather permitting, eventually the red ball of fire that is the sun, will become extremely bright and things will start to warm up.  You’ll want to take plenty of pictures at this point.

Plan your vacation with Active Caribbean Travel – Have fun hiking Jamaica's Blue Mountain Peak with a knowledgeable guide.

Once the sun is up, you’ll get a better chance to see what the trail and surrounding areas look like on the way down the mountain.  You’ll see that the top half of the trail is a fairly heavy rain-forest canopy – The occasional breaks allow you to see coffee plantations, valleys, ridges and mountains, as well as some coastline in the distance.

Plan your vacation with Active Caribbean Travel – Have fun hiking Blue Mountain Peak Trail on Jamaica with a knowledgeable guide.
Plan your vacation with Active Caribbean Travel – Have fun hiking Jamaica's Blue Mountain Peak with a knowledgeable guide.

In summary, this is an extremely enjoyable hike with mixed degrees of steepness, and at a comfortable (not soaked with sweat like most Caribbean hikes) temperature, with the exception of the peak, which is quite cold for an hour or so. It will take you 3 – 4 hours, taking only a couple quick rest stops, to make it to the top. The views all around the east end of the island under the new rising sun is a special treat – This sunrise hike really is an experience of a lifetime! You’ll probably be joined at the peak by a number of other small groups, however it is still a quiet and un-crowded. As the trail was not overly steep, you’ll probably be able to descend the mountain in 2 – 3 hours without the need for any long breaks.

Plan your vacation with Active Caribbean Travel – Have fun hiking Blue Mountain Peak Trail on Jamaica with a knowledgeable guide.

Be safe and sure with a local hiking guide or tour operator.  Tour operators or local Guides are recommended for most trails.  To Hike in the Blue & John Crow National Park, these local Tour Operators will take good care of you: 

To Hike the Blue Mountains from Runaway Bay, Ocho Rios and Port Antonio, these local Tour Operators will take good care of you: 

El Sol Vida Fun Tours

  • Jamaica’s Blue Mountain (Hollywell Nature Reserve) Hike & Coffee Tour
  • Blue Mountain Peak Hiking Tour – Overnight Hike to the Peak (Sunrise Hike)

To Hike the Blue Mountains from Kingston, these local Tour Operators will take good care of you: 

Sun Venture Tours Jamaica  

  • Guided Hiking Tours
    • Blue Mountain Peak Sunrise Hike
      • Duration: 9 Hours return hike and 5 hours return drive
      • Overnight Accommodation in Mountain Lodge (Dorm Style)
      • Degree of difficulty: 7.5/10
    • Blue Mountain Peak Sunset (Overnight) Hike
      • Duration: 9 Hours return hike and 5 hours return drive
        • Overnight Accommodation in Mountain Lodge (Dorm Style)
        • Degree of difficulty: 7.5/10
      • Cunha Cunha Pass Crossing
        • Duration: 6 Hours return hike and 5 hours return drive
        • Degree of difficulty: 7.0/10
      • Cinchona Gardens / High Blue Hike
        • Duration: 4 Hours return hike and 4 hours return drive
        • Degree of difficulty: 7.0/10
  • Special Interest Tours
    • Bird Watching Tours
      • In the Blue Mountains
    • Scientific / Research Tours – Medicinal Plants in Sherwood Forest (John Crow Mountains)
      • Duration: 3 Hour hike into the rain forest of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park
      • Degree of difficulty: 6.0/10
    • Custom Tours Available in the John Crow Mountains and Grand Ridge Wilderness Retreat (Northern Blue Mountains)

Barrett Adventures  

  • Blue Mountains & Old Tavern Coffee Estate (with Hike and Swim)
  • Hiking with the Charles Town Maroons
    • Easy One Hour Rain-Forest trail Hike to the abandoned Hidden City Coffee Plantation
  • Hike the Cunha-Cunha Trail
    • Remote and Challenging Hikes from 2-5 Hour Day Hikes or Multi-Day Hikes
  • Hike to Blue Mountain Peak (Over-night Sunrise Hike)

El Sol Vida Fun Tours

  • Jamaica’s Blue Mountain (Hollywell Nature Reserve) Hike & Coffee Tour
  • Blue Mountain Peak Hiking Tour – Overnight Hike to the Peak (Sunrise Hike)


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