the plantation days there was a road that ran along the north
shore of St. John between Brown Bay and what is now called Cinnamon
Bay. To reach Cruz Bay from the north shore bays, such as Cinnamon,
Trunk, Hawksnest, Denis and Caneel, it was necessary to first
go up the mountain to Centerline Road (called Konge Vey at that
time) and then head west from there.
Most of these mountain routes were no more than horse or donkey
trails. They generally followed the natural drainage guts in
the mountain valleys. In areas where no trails had been cleared,
the gut itself served as the path. The trail at Cinnamon Bay
follows one of these Danish roads, which in the old days provided
Cinnamon Bay with access to Konge Vey.
The Cinnamon Bay Trail connects Cinnamon
Bay with Centerline Road. It begins about 100 feet east
of the entrance to the Cinnamon Bay Campground on the North
Shore Road just past the ruins, which are visible on the side
of the road. This trail is 1.2 miles long and ascends steeply,
gaining about 700 feet in altitude.
From The Trailhead to the America Hill Spur
The beginning of the trail is the most difficult part, so don't
be discouraged by the steepness and lack of shade. There is
a conveniently placed flat rock near the top of the first steep
ascent on the right side of the trail that can provide comfortable
seating for two and may be a welcome rest stop.
The trail soon levels off and crosses a gut. At this point,
you will find yourself in a relatively cool and shady forest.
From here on, the ascent will be easier and shadier.
Unmarked Steel Post
America Hill Spur Trail
The America Hill Trail begins about 50 yards past the first gut
crossing, marked by a steel post and leads to the ruins of the Estate House at America
Hill. These ruins can be seen from Maho Bay, on the hill to
The trail to the estate house runs uphill and switches back
five times before you reach the mountain plateau upon which the
greathouse ruins lie.
Do not climb
on or go too close to the ruins as
they are unstable.
America Hill Great House
Hill Estate House
The America Hill Estate House is an
excellent example of late nineteenth century Virgin Island
architecture. Much attention was obviously given to an aesthetically
pleasing design as well as to functionality, the limitations
of the building site, and the availability of materials and
In the early 1900s, America Hill served as a guesthouse where
travelers could rent rooms. One of the last tenants was rumored
to be Rafael Leónides Trujillo, former dictator of the
Some older St. Johnians say that the estate house was also
used as a headquarters for rumrunners during the prohibition
As was the custom in those days, the cookhouse, or kitchen,
was built as a separate structure. The remains of the cookhouse
are to the right of the main building. The date 1934 is inscribed
on the cooking bench. To the left of the estate house ruins are
the remnants of a cistern and a well.
View to the west
Thanks to the efforts of freinds of the Park trail volunteers the view from the estate house is once again spectacular, particularly if looking to the west.
From the America Hill Spur to Centerline
Continue up along the Cinnamon Bay Trail, keeping the gut on
your right. The forest is shady and cool with light filtering
through the trees. The hillside is covered with bay
rum trees, and the fragrance of their aromatic leaves permeates
When you come to a fork in the trail, bear right. The other
path soon ends in the bush.
During the sugar plantation days, most of this area was cleared
and terraced by an enslaved labor force. The remains of these
stone terraces are visible on the hillside above the trail.
Strategically placed along the trail are lines of rocks crossing
at an angle. These serve to divert the flow of water across
the trail and prevent erosion that would result from water
flowing freely down the length of the trail. Some of these
rudimentary culverts exist from the Danish days. This innovative
management of the water run off have kept many of the old Danish
roads in fairly good condition.
You will start to see a great deal of wild anthuriums growing
near the trail. Off to the left, or upper side of the trail,
try and find a fairly well preserved terrace retained by a
wall of dry stacked stones. In this area are the remains of
a large hole where the earth appears to be black in places.
This was once a charcoal pit.
Patrick's West Indian Delight
was an important industry during St. John's subsistence farming
days. It served not only as the principle source of fuel for
cooking, but also was sold for cash in St. Thomas. Charcoal was
prepared by digging a large hole, then filling it with wood stacked
in a triangle-like fashion. The wood was then layered with green
grass, leaves and dirt. It was set on fire and left to burn for
a week or two. This resulted in the production of St. John's
fine charcoal, which is still made today, although the only person
I know who still sells it is Patrick from Patrick’s West
Indian Delight across from the Post Office.
After a series of switchbacks to gain elevation, the trail again
crosses a gut. In this area you may find hog
plum fruit when
they are in season. The problem is that the hog plums are invariably
too high to pick off the tree. Worms, birds and insects are
usually quicker than hikers to find the ripe fruit that falls
to the ground.
Top of the trail
The path turns to the right and then continues upward through the forest emerging
from the bush at Centerline Road. From here, you can turn around
and make the easier downhill hike back to Cinnamon. Other alternatives
to return to the campground are the Maria Hope Trail to the
east or the Cathrineberg Road to the west.