As a new project with limited funding, the trails here aren’t extensive. However, the site allows access to a beautiful tropical landscape that few have the chance to see. This site is free to access and close to the attraction of Conch Bar Caves, so it’s worth a stop. Be prepared for mosquitoes as they can be overwhelming during the rainy season.
3-star rating for Caicos Pine Yard Trail by Visit Turks and Caicos Islands
The trail through the wilderness of the pine forests.
Located on the extensive and low-lying brush lands of Middle Caicos, the Caicos Pine Yard Trail is a tranquil and scenic half mile (0.8 km) nature walk and the best place in the country to see the national tree of the Turks and Caicos—our local variety of the threatened Caribbean pine (Pinus caribaea var. bahamensis).
A unique and beautiful terrain surrounds this short trail. Along with the pines, majestic sabal palms, West Indian mahoganies, saw grass and thatch palms are abundant.
The environment shelters many types of birds, including the bananaquit, Bahamas woodstar hummingbird, ani, Cuban crow, and more. More often heard than seen, Giant blue land crabs also scurry through the underbrush.
The Caicos Pine
A Caicos pine sapling.
Found only on a few Turks and Caicos and Bahamian Islands, the pines require a specific environment to live and thrive. A constant and relatively salt-free source of water is needed, yet the trees can’t sustain deep and prolonged flooding. Because of these needs, all of the country’s pines are found only on the inland flats of North Caicos and Middle Caicos, and Pine Cay.
The Turks Islands of Grand Turk and Salt Cay, and South Caicos do not have suitable low-salinity wetlands and thus no pines.
Providenciales does have an interior region in the Frenchman’s Creek Nature Reserve that could likely support the Caicos Pine, however either the Caicos pine was never established in the area or logging took place in previous centuries and wiped out the tree.
Other Non-Native Pines
Two other varieties of trees in the Turks and Caicos might be mistaken for the indigenous pine.
An introduced species and rare throughout the country, the distinct and highly symmetrical Norfolk Island pine was once a popular landscaping choice on Providenciales and Pine Cay in past decades. It's a beautiful tree, and mature examples of this evergreen often tower over the surrounding vegetation, especially on older properties.
Much of the Caicos pine forests is experiencing severe attacks and die-offs from an introduced pest—the Pine tortoise scale insect.
Thought to have been introduced with imported Christmas trees, the threat from this scale has spread across the main islands in the country.
Several approaches are being taken to counterbalance the disease that threatens the pine.
A few strains of the Caicos pine have exhibited resistance to the scale, and large numbers of seedlings from these trees are being grown at the Government Farm on North Caicos.
On Pine Cay, seedlings have been transplanted back to the original environment and appear to be doing well—a welcome glimmer in the dim outlook for the pine.
Controlled burns have also taken place, and these actions are meant to mimic naturally occurring fires that reduce competing plants and trees and may also fight scale insects.
The Caicos Pine Recovery Project, assisted by the UK Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and the local Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs (DEMA), is overseeing the crucial recovery of the pines, with good results. Caicos Pines are just one area of focus from international environmental groups. See Environment and Conservation for more information.
Getting to the Caicos Pine Yards
Although a bit out of the way, it’s quite simple to locate the Caicos Pine Yard. Both Conch Bar Caves and the defunct Middle Caicos Airport are situated close by.