Tag Archives: caneel hill spur trail

St. John Trails: Caneel Hill Trail Sunset

Caneel Hill North Dace Overlook
Sunset from the overlook on north face of Caneel Hill
St. John Trails: Caneel Hill Trail
Viewing Tower at Caneel hill Summit

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.

I began the hike at the Caneel Hill Spur Trail to save a little uphill work and because it was getting late.

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.

 Overlook on the North Face of the Caneel Hill Trail St. John Virgin Islands
Sunset from the overlook on the North Face of the Caneel Hill Trail

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.

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St. John Life: A Beautiful Weekend for Photos on St. John USVI

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.

The Caneel Hill Spur Trail
The Caneel Hill Spur Trail
Bench on the Caneel Hill Trail
Bench on the Caneel Hill Trail

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:

View
view from the bench near the summit of Caneel Hill
View
view from the bench near the summit of Caneel Hill

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:

view of St. Thomas from the tower atop Caneel Hill
View of St. Thomas from the tower atop Caneel Hill
View from Tower on Caneel Hill
View of Lovango Cay from the tower atop Caneel Hill
View from the tower on the Caneel Hill Trail
View of Jost Van Dyke from the tower atop Caneel Hill
View from the tower on the Caneel Hill Trail
View of Cruz Bay from the tower atop Caneel Hill

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

Turpentine Tree on Caneel Hill Trail
Turpentine Tree on Caneel Hill Trail
Caneel Bay Overlook
Caneel Bay Overlook
Trunk Bay Overlook
Trunk Bay Overlook
View of Johnson's Reef From the Trunk Bay Overlook
View of Johnson's Reef From the Trunk Bay Overlook
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