The Hill Bank Field Station is surrounded by representative samples of three distinct major ecosystems: Sub Tropical broadleaf Rainforest, Wetlands and Pine Savannah. This of course makes the area unique and biologically diverse in both flora and fauna.
Presently there are five main trails each of which depicts various vegetation types designed for specific objectives and purpose. Numerous resident and migratory birds as well as wildlife sightings have been reported.
The Hill Bank Field Station has 5 trails to explore. These trails are:
1. Kubul Trail
(Kubul- Mayan word for Montezuma Oropendula) – This bird is common at the entrance and exit of trail.
a. Trail Design: A short loop beginning just behind the dining hall and ending alongside the entrance of the trail.
b. Degree of Difficulty: Moderate- crosses over two wooded bridges
c. Length- 0.3 miles (0.5 kilometers) Approximately 25 minutes walking normal pace.
d. Slope: gentle
e. Objective/Purpose: Interpretive trial design for medical plant identification in which 35 species have been labeled using botanical and local names. It includes both timber and non-timber species.
f. Wildlife Seen Occasionally: White Tail Deer, Red Brocket Deer, Coatimundi, Yucatan Squirrel, White Lipped and Collared Peccary. Tracks of Agouti, Paca, Armadillo and Jaguar have been seen on the trails.
Birds: At least 30-40 species of both resident and migrant bird can be heard or seen along this trail on a 45 minutes early birding. Migrant warblers such as Black & White Warbler, Yellow Warbler and American Redstarts arrive as early as mid- August.
g. Other Attractions: Present along trail is two huge Leaf cutter ant colonies along with paths traversing the trail. Strangler Fig and numerous epiphytes and terrestrial bromeliads such as Wild Pineapple.
Butterflies: Blue Morpho and Owl Butterfly usually seen.
2. Aguada Trail- Small Pond
a. Trail Design: Loop begins from behind staff dorm and loop towards old air strip.
b. Degree of Difficulty: Easy
c. Length: 0.3 miles (0.5 kilometers), approximately 25 minutes walk on flat terrain.
d. Objective/Purpose of Trail: For nature walk and birding experience. It demonstrates a perfect example of Transitional Forest (Broken Ridge type of vegetation).
e. Wildlife Occasionally Observed: White Tail Deer, White Lipped Collared Peccary, and Opossum. Tracks of Tapir and Jaguar observed on trail.
Birds: The trail is famous for the sighting of Red-capped Manakins around the pond. An early morning bird walk can render up to 35 species of birds.
f. Other attractions: There are quite a number of epiphytes such as bromeliads and orchids. There is a patch of Palmetto palm along the way and the seasonal pond is home to Red Eyed Tree Frog during the rainy season.
3. Cohune Palm Trail – This trail is predominantly of the cohune palm species (Attalea cohune) but it also boast four other species of palm namely Chamaedorea, Bay leaf, Bactris major (Pokenoboy), and Give and Take.
a. Trail Design: Loop off road to Burgen Gate and exits on the same further up in the vicinity of Irish Creek. It is usually accessed by vehicle from Hill Bank, five minute drive.
b. Degree of Difficultly: Easy
c. Length: 0.46 miles (0.75 km), approximately 40 minutes walk.
d. Objective/Purpose of Trail: This trail is design for forest observation lessons, nature walk, and also introduces students to the sustainable and traditional uses of our natural resources such as non timber forest products.
e. Wildlife Occasionally Observed: Howler monkeys, Coatimundi, Racoons, and Armadillos.
Birds: The trail provides habitat for species restricted to upland broadleaf forest e.g. Wood creepers, Shrike Tanagers, Trogons, Crested Guan, Curassow and Nightjars.
f. Other Attractions: It hosts a variety of epiphytes, medicinal plants, mushrooms/fungi and leaf cutter ants. Numerous termites’ nests can be observed along the trails.
4. Lagoon Side Trail: The longest and most biologically diverse of our trails. Approximately 1/3 of the trail follows a twisting route along the western portion of the New River Lagoon and is seasonally inundated. It then enters into upland broadleaf forest with a few rocky outcroppings, a cohune ridge and gradually enters into transitional forest and finally secondary growth.
a. Trail Design: A long loop beginning northwest of the nursery leading to an old logging jetty and back towards the nursery.
b. Degree of Difficulty: Moderate
c. Length: 0.9 miles (1.5 km)
d. Objective/Purpose: For Bird and Nature walk. This trail provides innumerable epiphytes (Orchids and Bromeliads) and palm species growing in their natural habitat.
e. Wildlife Occasionally Observed: Coatmundi, Agouti, Paca (Gibnut), Tayra (Bush Dog), Peccaries, Green Iguanas, Wild Rabbit, Howler Monkeys, Tamandua (Ant eater), and Puma. Tapir and Jaguar tracks frequently seen along trail. Note that these animals are mostly nocturnal
Bird: Very famous for larger birds like Great Curassows, Crested Guan, Turkey, Pheasant Cuckoo and Tinamou.
f. Other Attractions: Two natural springs gushing from the edge of the forest into the lagoon. These are perfect examples of underground springs emerging from limestone caverns.
5. Motmot trail – The second longest trail flows through broadleaf forest along a wetland/bajo ecosystem up and over limestone outcroppings into a cohune ridge forest. Because of the different transitional ecosystems encountered one has the opportunity to see many different species of flora and fauna.
a. Trail Design: A long trail beginning south of the station running parallel to Ram Goat creek and looping back near to the main road.
b. Degree of Difficulty: Moderate
c. Slope: gentle
d. Length: 0.8 miles (1.3 km)
e. Objective/Purpose: Bird watching and nature walks.
f. Wildlife Occasionally Observed: Baird’s Tapir, Grey fox, White-tailed deer, white-nosed Coati. Tracks of Baird’s Tapir and Jaguar have been observed.
Birds: Great Curassow, Ocellated Turkey, Plain Chachalaca, Slaty-Breasted Tinamo are a few of the resident birds that have been seen along the trail.
g. Other Attractions: Mayan causeway and old rail road. The trail also leads to the crystalline waters of Ram Goat creek that is border by beautiful red mangrove. This creek is use for tubing, canoeing, snorkeling and swimming.
For your safety, please remain on trails at all times. We are currently re-designing a map that can lead you on your way. Also, a large trail map will be located close to the main walkway for your ease of reference.
Most are in walking distance with difficulty levels from easy to difficult. Along these trails you will experience the majesty and complexity of the tropical rainforest.
A naturalist guide will accompany you on your forest jaunts so that your experience is a fulfilling one. However, if you are experienced and comfortable on your own in the rainforest, you can explore the trails at your leisure.
You must inform your naturalist guide or the Station Manager or any staff in their absence about where you are going so that we know your whereabouts at all times on the property.
Our tour guides are expert at identifying wildlife and plants and discussing environmental topics, the Maya civilization, and history of Belize among others. Also, you are invited to learn about and participate in the conservation work that Programme for Belize does in and around the RBCMA.
All overnight guests are invited to early morning bird and night walks. Guests staying multiple nights are also offered a night safari. Please make arrangement with your naturalist guide or station manager.