Brae Head Falls, Clarendon

Clarendon is not a parish which comes to mind when one thinks of a Jamaican adventure, but it’s a parish which has been on my mind to explore for nearly two years as an adventurous nature lover. Clarendon is a parish on Jamaica’s south coast in the centre of the island and has a population of 246,000 people, most of whom reside in and around May Pen on the Vere Plains. Clarendon is bordered by St. Catherine to the east, Manchester to the west and St. Ann to the north. The parish, like all 14 parishes of Jamaica, is washed by the Caribbean Sea and has attractions like Milk River Bath and the recently crash-landed plane at Rocky Point on its south coast. Up north is mountainous with rivers, a nature reserve and the geographic centre of Jamaica at Bull Head Mountain Peak. It’s surprising that the area isn’t marketed for ecotourism, but again Jamaica is a country which is full of unmarketed potential. This is the first time I’ve ever ventured into this side of Jamaica and it didn’t disappoint. The waterfalls in Brae Head are often listed as being located in the neighbouring communities of Crooked River or Trout Hall, just because Brae Head isn’t on the map of Jamaica! Here’s how to find this remote corner of Jamaica.

Getting To Brae Head

Brae Head can be approached from Christiana for visitors coming from the western end of Jamaica. If so, you’ll reach Trout Hall first and have to drive a bit more eastward to reach Brae Head. However, today my trip started from May Pen where I drove up through Chapelton, Summerfield then Crooked River.

Driving through the historic town of Chapelton

I’m not the only Jamaican with a love for waterfalls. One of my main local travel inspirations is Lilli from Nature’s Sweet Escapes, another local travel blogger like myself who blogs, vlogs and travels for the love of it, not for money nor hype. She has a penchant for off-the-beaten-path gems and waterfalls too. She visited this waterfall several months ago and had negotiated a guide from the community, so I got the contact number of her guide from her website and gave him a ring (Ryan– (876) 862-1803). That made my day so much easier. He directed my friends and I from the Crooked River district square, and we picked him up at home then parked by the home of this sweet elderly lady– with her permission of course. Her home is located walking distance from the first of three waterfalls in the community. The road was good up to Clarendon College then gradually worsened until it eventually became a dirt track.. not the sort of place one wants to get car trouble at all. A SUV would be better suited for the area but I managed nonetheless.

Johnson Crawle Waterfall

We passed the first waterfall since it was nearer to where we parked, opting to explore the furthest cascade first. The trail to this waterfall is steadily uphill, roughly 20 minutes long and meanders through stunning open farmlands, tall bamboo, ferns, pine trees and wide sweeping views of the Mocho Mountains. The area had not received rainfall in a while but everything was still so lush and green. Most of my hikes before this have been in the Blue Mountains. This was my first time hiking in central Jamaica and it left me already daydreaming of a return trip. The only downside to the trail was the humidity. It wasn’t quite that hot but the humid environment prevented sweat from evaporating and left me feeling hotter, sticky and miserable.

Interestingly enough, we encountered a small family or perhaps group of friends halfway there who said they were lost, so they were relieved to see us. I don’t see why a group of outsiders would take up themselves venturing into a community past people’s houses and farms without a resident as guide, but to each their own. I wouldn’t advise anyone to do this.

The waterfall was not as strong as during the rainy season but was still a beauty in its own right. The delicate water droplets tumbled over the edge of the rock like raindrops and instantly cooled and refreshed my small hiking group. The water downstream was too muddy and stagnant to swim in, but the waterfall was enough to enjoy ourselves. In fact, sitting or standing on a rock to the left of the falls allowed us to see a perfect rainbow within the waterfall, created by the ethereal water droplets which act as a prism to bend the sun’s rays which filtered down through the trees. The sunlight was playing hide-and-seek with us at the falls, allowing me to get totally different shots of the waterfall in just half-hour.

How the waterfall looked when the moody clouds rolled in

This waterfall is the only named cascade in the community, but as to how it got the name Johnson Crawle I have no idea. I’d love to learn more about the history of the area so feel free to fill me in if you know.

The Other Two Waterfalls in Brae Head

We ditched the other people and set off for the third waterfall. This one took us back to where we parked and led us on a trail in the opposite direction which was mostly downhill. This trail was very narrow with a steep drop-off– certainly not a trail for anyone with a fear of heights and not ideal for children either. This trail isn’t as beautiful as the one to Johnson Crawle but was still lush and green. The hike to this waterfall from where we parked (near waterfall #1) was about 15 minutes long. We spent more time here since we didn’t have company, and had a blast. There isn’t any swimming hole but who needs a swimming hole when you’re showering under Mother Nature’s rain shower. The water was very cold and delicious (yes I drank some) and refreshing.

As soon as we noticed a change in the weather we headed back to the car and then decided to check out the first waterfall we had passed earlier next to the road. We didn’t spend much time here as it began to drizzle and we wanted to be on our way back to town before it began to pour. Nonetheless, I don’t think we would have wanted to spend much time there anyway. It was obvious that this waterfall was the community hang-out spot since it was more accessible. There was quite a bit of litter next to this one, along with a bit of animal poop.

Thanks for the free parking spot, Gram!
If you look closely through the trees, you can see the waterfall 🙂
Up close

Wrap Up

There’s always an adventure around the corner in Jamaica, and I love that so much. I didn’t expect this hike to be so beautiful, and to think that I drive through Clarendon all the time and seldom stop unless I’m getting gasoline or food! I hope my next Clarendon adventure is either at its other waterfall in Sanguinetti, or hiking to the geographical centre of Jamaica at Bull Head Mountain Peak, an area of Jamaica which is shrouded in as much mystery as cloud forest. Make sure you don’t miss the next adventure by subscribing below and checking out my social media pages. 🙂

Written by Rochelle Knight

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‘Til next time!

Published by

Rochelle | Adventuresfromelle

Adventures from Elle is a blog for locals & visitors who want to experience the best of Jamaica, one adventure at a time. Also a budget travel blog, Adventures from Elle is written by Rochelle Knight, a junior doctor who began this blog as a student & wants to see the world, starting with her own country. She frequents off-the-beaten-path waterfalls, beaches and places with interesting history. Join her in Jamaica!

23 thoughts on “Brae Head Falls, Clarendon

  1. Thanks for the information.
    Born and raised in May Pen had no idea of this place.
    Hopefully I can visit sometime soon.
    Great presentation.


  2. WOW, stunning! You’re right in the sense that one needs a local tour guide to take them to Brae Head Falls; I’m not the greatest at directions, and I would especially be completely lost if I tried to navigate this on my own! Very lush, and the water looks very tempting for a dip in. One day, hopefully soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Congratulations and thank you for your great and accurate content on an area with which I am very familiar. I am from the district of Collington which is down the hill from the Brae Head Falls. The second cascade there is called Rock and that area of Collington is called Content. Rock was my childhood bathroom because that is where residents would go every morning to get a shower. It is also the spot where women would go daily to wash clothes. You have to pass through Content to get to Johnson Crawle. I am disappointed that Collington was not mentioned in your blog. Content is important because of the spring and catchment area located there. The spring is the source of water for the district. Before piped water was introduced in the late sixties, everyone went to Content to fetch water from the spring. That is the best tasting water found anywhere in Jamaica. Whenever I visit, I bring empty containers to fill. If you did not get a drink from the spring, you missed out on what could have been one of the highlights of your odyssey through my place of birth. Thanks again for such great content.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. You’re most welcome! Thanks for filling me in on the area. I hadn’t heard the name of the community on my trip, but I realize now that it’s really close by. I’ll love to check out the area again on a next trip. I’ve heard of another small waterfall running through nearby James Hill as well.

      Anyway, it must be a joy to hail from such a gorgeous community! Thanks so much for visiting my blog 🙂


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