St. John Virgin Islands: Turner Point Trail Revisited

st john trails: turner point
cannon buried in sand

Turner Point Trail Hike, St. John US Virgin Islands Saturday 01/09/2010

haulover bay, st john, us virgin islands
The adventure begins – Haulover Bay, East End, St. John

Ezius Ashley and I arrived at Haulover Bay on the East End of St. John around noon on Saturday. Ezius is only ten years old, but is the best hiker I ever set out on the off the beaten track trails of St. John, with the exception of the infamous Trail Bandit, I must ad.

This was my third attempt at this trail, my last two terminating at the ruins on the ridge above Elk Bay. My goal this time was to descend the other side of the hill to Water Creek, and see the ruins there and more importantly to make my way around the bay to the next point where an old cannon stands partly buried in the sand.

The Route

Turner Point Trail, St. John Virgin Islands
Turner Point Trail Map

We proposed to follow the shoreline of Haulover Bay heading west to the end of the beach. From there, a footpath of sorts leads into the bush rising to the top of the hill that forms the point separating Haulover Bay from Elk Bay and descends down to the cobble beach at the eastern extreme of Elk Bay.

Elk Bay can also be accessed from the south side of the East End Road (heading east) at the top of the last (highest) hill before going down into Haulover, where a trail descends steeply through a dry cactus scrub environment and leads to the beach at Elk Bay.

I find the Haulover access to be much more pleasant, cooler and more scenic, but both ways are possible.

Elk Bay, St. John Virgin Islands
Elk Bay
Elk Bay, St. John Virgin Islands

The trail Ezius and I take crossing  the headland between Haulover and Elk Bays leads us to some flats where a huge tamarind tree stands in an area surrounded by the skeletons of century plants that have succumbed to the disease that is currently decimating the species on St. John.
Reaching the beach, we begin our walk west on the rocky shore enjoying the rhythmic melodious sound of the cobbles being washed back and forth by the waves. At about the middle of the beach there is a rocky outcropping that we must scramble over. A flat rock along the way provides us with some nice views and cooling ocean breezes.

wrecked boat on elk bay - st john usvi
wrecked boat

The next stretch of beach is much the same as before. We continue walking west over the colorful, round cobblestones passing a wrecked boat that had washed up on the beach.

We continue west for about 100 more yards scrambling over a small rocky outcropping, until we find the path, presently marked by pink ribbons that leads into the forest.

After a short walk over the flats behind the beach, the trail leads us up the hillside to the ridge.

ruins on the turner bay trail st john usvi

ezius ashley clears ctach n keep
ezius cuts away catch n keep

The ruins of several structures lie on the ridge top.

We spend some time exploring the ruins and Ezius helps clear access for a photograph, clipping away a patch of catch n keep.

On the other side of the ridge we pick up a trail going down the hillside. This trail is steeper then the last and it’s not long before we reach more ruins lying along the mangrove lined shore.

ruins at water creek, st john
ruins at water creek
mangroves at water creek, st john
red mangroves at water creek

We have reached Water Creek a small protected cove completely lined by red mangroves. Snorkelers arriving aboard the sailboat, “Breath,” are exploring the undersea community of fish and sea creatures in the mangrove environment.

The ruins here are in better condition and more easily accessed than those on the ridge. Nearby we find a well, many old bottles and a goats’ skull bleached white by the sun.

In order to reach are goal of photographing the cannon we must bushwhack along the coast to the next point of land. There’s no trail so the going is slow, but we’re intrepid explorers and we emerge from the forest at the rock and sand beach just south of water creek.

There’s our cannon!

turner point trail map, st john usvi
cannon on beach
the cannon

We return the way we came, arriving back at Haulover Bay at about 4:00. We had been gone about four hours. I’m tired, Ezius’s battery is still on full charge.

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7 thoughts on “St. John Virgin Islands: Turner Point Trail Revisited”

  1. While on St. John a couple of weeks ago, a friend and I tried twice to find the trail over the hill to Water Creek Bay. We easily found the wrecked boat, but could not find any ribbons and after going into the woods against the shoulder of the hill, found no path that we could determine would take us up and over the hill.
    We did enjoy seeing a part of St. John we had never been to, but we really wanted to see the cannon as the crowning acheivment of this trip. Any suggestions? Is it possible to go all the way around the point to where the cannon is? Thanks, John

  2. A Trail Bandit map and a GPS or better yet a GPS with the trail bandit map loaded into it. Alternatively, although I’ve never tried, I’m fairly certain that going around the point would work fine.

  3. Thank you for your information. My Trail Bandit map only goes as far as Mardenboro point, and does not include Elk Bay. So on our next try we will attempt to go around the point, unless there is a way to find out the GPS coordinates for the beginning of the trail up from Elk Bay. We saw a pontoon type craft that seemed to be doing a tour, we should have flagged them down. Thanks, John

  4. Hello Mr. Singer, we are going to try the Turner Point trail again in a few weeks, hope to find the cannon this time. Could you please tell me if there have been any changes in the route we should take? Thanks, John

  5. I haven’t been on that trail since the last hike. My guess is that the trail condition has deteriorated. I would suggest a GPS, preferably one integrated with the Trail Bandit Map.

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