Starting across the road (Route 20) from the entrance to the Caneel Bay Resort, you can access the Water Catchment Spur Trail and hike back to your starting point. The entire loop involves less than one mile of hiking.
The Caneel Hill Trail is well maintained and relatively easy going, although you will be hiking uphill until you reach the trailhead for the Water Catchment Spur.
At the beginning of your walk you will pass by an old stone wall alongside the trail, which I believe marked an old cart road back in plantation days.
Follow the trail uphill until you arrive at the intersection of the Caneel Hill and Water Catchment Spur trails.Take the Water Catchment Spur Trail, which goes off to your left and downhill until you reach the Caneel Bay water catchment.From the catchment you can follow the dirt road down to the North Shore Road (Route 20) and walk back to the Caneel Bay Resort entrance.
If you’re looking for an outdoor alternative to your normal aerobic gym workout, you might want to give the Caneel Hill Trail a try.
There are two ways to do this:
The longer way is to start from the beginning of the Caneel Hill Trail, which can be found about 20 yards past the Mongoose Junction parking lot in Cruz Bay. From there to the Caneel Hill summit is about 0.8 miles with a rise in elevation of 719 feet.
The somewhat shorter way is to begin the hike at the parking area for the Caneel Hill Spur Trail located just off the North Shore Road (Route 20) at the top of the first hill just past the Asolare Restaurant and Estate Lindholm where the main road intersects with the road to the VI National Park Housing. This will cut 200 feet of elevation and about a tenth of a mile of distance off the previous option.
Either way the hike is a steep climb. Anyone who uses aerobic gym machines will find this hike every bit as challenging as being on a treadmill, elliptical trainer, stationary bike or stair climber. If you’re in fairly good condition and moving vigorously, you’ll be able to complete the climb in less than 20 minutes. You should experience a good rise in heart rate and generate a serious sweat.
Just about 100 yards from the top, there’s a bench with a good view to the north. Continuing on to the summit, you’ll find a viewing platform with spectacular vistas and refreshing breezes. This is an excellent place to rest, stretch and hydrate before your descent.
Unlike the gym, you’ll be in a natural outdoor environment and you will find the hike up to the top of Caneel Hill to be a rewarding and worthwhile change of pace.
Live Music on St. John Wednesday, February 23
Castaways – Steve & Friends – 7:30 – 777-3316 High Tide – T-Bird and Kenny – 7:00 – 10:00 – 714-6169 Inn at Tamarind Court – Craig Greenberg – 7:00 – 776 6378 Island Blues – Bo & Lauren – 7:00 – 10:00 – 776-6800 Larry’s Landing – Classic Rock with John – 10:00 – 1:00 – 693-8802 Morgan’s Mango – Greg Kinslow – 6:30 – 9:30 – 693-8141 Shipwreck Landing – Chris Carsel – 7:00 – 10:00 – 693-5640
A word of caution to my visitors: I’m doing the best I can to present an accurate music schedule, but to be sure, it would be a great idea to call the restaurant or bar beforehand to confirm.
Weekly Music Schedule
7:00 pm Tuesday March 15th: Free film screening at SPUTNIKS IN CORAL BAY
A TRIBUTE TO ANNIE LOVE:
(2010, 8 minutes) a short film by Jeremy Garza and Trent Myers. This film documents the event that took at Rhumb Lines in memory of Annie Love on June 6, 2009.
HEART OF THE SEA
(57 min) 2002by Lisa Denker, Charlotte Lagarde)
HEART OF THE SEA is a portrait of Rell “Kapolioka’ehukai” Sunn, who died in January 1998 of breast cancer at the age of 47. Known worldwide as a pioneer of women’s professional surfing, at home in Hawaii Rell achieved the stature of an icon—not only for her physical power, grace and luminous beauty, but for her leadership in a community that loved her as much as she loved it.
By the time she lost a 15 year battle with breast cancer, Rell’s legacy had grown far beyond athletic feats. HEART OF THE SEA tells her larger-than-life story.
This award-winning documentary tells the dramatic story of Kenyan Nobel Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai whose simple act of planting trees grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, protect human rights and defend democracy – a movement for which this charismatic woman became an iconic inspiration.
Live Music on St. John Today, Wednesday, February 9
Castaways – Steve Sloan – 7:00 – 777-3316 Cinnamon Bay Camp – Daddy Chin and the Wailers – 6:00 -9:00 – 776-6330 High Tide – Chris Carsel- 7:00 – 10:00 – 714-6169 Island Blues – James Cobb – 7:00 – 10:00 – 776-6800 Larry’s Landing – James Jams – 10:00 – 693-8802 Sun Dog Cafe – Open Mic with Mark Wallace – 7:00 – 10:00 – 693 8340 Westin, Cruz Bay Prime – David Labs – 7:00 -10:00 – 693-800-
I usually don’t like the way photos come out on days when the Sahara dust makes the sky gray instead of blue and obscures the contrast between the white clouds and the background sky. Nonetheless, I brought my camera with me on a late afternoon hike up the Caneel Hill Trail.
With all the rain we’ve had lately, St. John is as green as can be, but walking on the trail, I was still amazed at how much the bush had grown. The Guinea grass, in particular, had sprouted up to a height of more than three feet almost obscuring the trail in some areas; very lush and very beautiful.
I arrived at the summit of Caneel Hill in less than a half an hour and shot some photos from the viewing tower, none of which amounted to anything worth saving. Returning down the trail, I stopped at the overlook a hundred yards or so down from the hilltop, where there’s a wooden bench and a north view comparable, if not even better, to the view from the tower, especially now that the overlook was cleared thanks to Jeff Cabot and his volunteer trail crew.
From this new angle I could get a clear shot of the horizon and as the sun sank lower I could see that even the Sahara dust was working in my favor, filling the late afternoon St. John sky some beautiful shades of red, yellow and orange.
When I returned home, I was happy to find some pretty nice sunset shots worthy of being shared with those who didn’t happen to be at the north face overlook just shy of the summit of Caneel Hill on the Caribbean island of St. John in the United States Virgin Islands, at sunset which included every single human being on the planet Earth … except for me.
Before 1985 there was a wooden viewing tower atop Caneel Hill, built by National Park contracted workers. That year the powerful Hurricane Hugo destroyed the tower leaving it pretty much a pile of debris, a state in which it remained for some 21 years.
In 2006, a St. John resident, Frank Cummings, who operates SNUBA, decided to do something about it. With some persistence, he was able to obtain both permission and partial funding from the National Park to construct a new tower atop the 719-foot high hilltop. Work began in May of 2006 with the help of private volunteers and additional funding provided by Steve Black. The debris was removed and carried down the hill and the new construction materials were carried up.
Volunteers carried up the 80-pound bags of cement, containers of water, tools and afsteners. Teachers from the Baptist school brought up a generator, and Boy Scouts from Illinois helped bring up the recycled lumber substitute along with volunteers from the Friends of the Park.
The tower can be reached via the Caneel Hill Trail
Margaret Hill Overlook
The highlights of the Caneel and Margaret Hill Trail are the summits of the two hill from where magnificent views can be enjoyed. At the top of Caneel Hill there is a viewing platform, but the view at the summit of Margaret Hill, lacking any man-made structures, is obscured by bush. Nonetheless a little bit east of the actual summit there is a short spur trail that leads to a large flat rock from where there are commanding views to the west and south.
If your destination is the Margaret Hill Overlook the shortest and easiest way to access it is by taking the spur trail off the Water Catchment Trail at the Centerline Road trailhead.
It is really a specially beautiful place to be. If you’re hiking the Caneel Margaret Hill Trail, keep an eye out for the spur trail to the rock outcropping. Don’t miss this one!
On that beautiful clear weekend afternoon, I took the easy way up to the overlook and shot the following video:
The weather on St. John and in the Virgin Islands is normally very agreeable. The tropical heat is mitigated by the cooling tradewinds and rainy days are rare. But for those of living here, there are actually nuances of “beautiful” and last weekend was that, exceptionally beautiful with white puffy clouds in a clear blue sky and little to no dust from the desserts of Africa or volcanic ash from the island of Montserrat lying to our east across the Anegada Passage to whiten the horizon and obscure the crispness of the view.
It was a good day for photography and I decided to take some photos from a few popular overlooks on the North Shore. The first location I wanted to try was the viewing tower at the summit of Caneel Hill some 900 feet above the blue Caribbean below.
I began my hike on the Caneel Hill Spur Trail at the top of the hill leading out of Cruz Bay, just past the Asolare Restaurant and across the North Shore Road from the National Park housing complex. Heading up and south that trail connects to the Caneel Hill Trail, which leads to the summit of Caneel Hill and onward to Margaret Hill and ending at Caneel Bay. By beginning here instead of at Cruz Bay where the Caneel Hill Trail begins, I saved myself a bit of climbing and gained more time for more photos. As you near the summit there’s a rustic wooden bench from where I took my first photos:
From the bench, it’s only a short distance more to the summit of Caneel Hill, where volunteers constructed a wonderful viewing tower after the first one was destroyed by Hurricane Marilyn in 1995.
From the tower there’s sweeping views of the north shore with all the islands and cays from St. Thomas to the British Virgin Islands.
On the south you can see into Cruz Bay and get a view of the southern coastline. On a good day, one a bit better than Saturday’s beautiful day, you can see the island of St. Croix in the south some forty miles away.
The following photos were taken from the tower:
Finishing up my photography atop the tower, I headed back down the trail. On the way down I saw a turpentine tree with the sun shining through a piece of its peeling bark. I shot that photo and continued on down the trail.
The next stop was the Caneel Bay Overlook on the North Shore Road and then on to the most popular overlook – the Trunk Bay Overlook
All about St John in the beautiful US Virgin Islands (USVI) American Paradise