Want a St. John alternative to an indoor aerobic workout on a gym treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical trainer? How about a brisk hike up the Caneel Hill Trail?
The trail begins just a bit up the North Shore Road from Mongoose Junction in Cruz Bay. You obtain an elevation of almost 800 feet in less than a mile making it a rather steep climb. Don’t believe the National Park informational sign at the trailhead that reads 0.6 miles to Caneel Hill. I believe they’re referring to the distance to the Caneel Hill Spur Trail that intersects the Caneel Hill Trail about a third of the way up.
I was successful in convincing my good friend and now workout partner, Mario, to accompany me on the hike, which he resisted at first, but then thoroughly enjoyed.
Local Virgin Islands National Park Service contractors and the trail is clear and easily passable. Swales have been constructed to manage erosion and large flat stones have been placed like stairs along the steepest areas.
Near the top of the hill is a wooden bench with a great view to the north, but about 100 yards further up at the summit is a viewing tower with one of the most magnificent vistas on St. John. Here you can cool down taking advantage of the mountaintop breezes before either continuing further on the trail which eventually leads to Caneel Bay, like us, just head back down to Cruz Bay the way we came.
One caveat, be careful of loose stones on the trail which are significantly more of a problem going down than going up.