Tag Archives: caneel hill

St. John Aerobics: Caneel Hill Trail

Caneel Hill Trail
Mario makes it to the top of Caneel Hill - No problem!

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.

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St. John Happenings

St. John Virgin Islands Photo of the Day

Caneel Hill Tower, St John Virgin IslandsCaneel Hill Viewing Tower
Caneel Hill Trail
St. John Virgin Islands

St. John Virgin Islands Press Release

St. John Film Society

Free Movie Night
February 22, 7:30 pm
St. John School of the Arts, Cruz Bay

TAKING ROOT: The Vision of Wangari Maathai
by Lisa Merton and Alan Dater (80 min) 2008
The filmmakers will be present for questions and answers after the screening.

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.

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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 Virgin Islands Trails: Newly Cleared Overlook Photos

As promised here are some more photos of the overlooks recently cleared by Jeff Chabot and his crew of intrepid volunteers. From those of us who hike the trails of St. John:


St. John Trails: Caneel Hill Overlook
View from the Bench on Caneel Hill

The Caneel Hill Bench

St. John Trails: Caneel hill Bench
View from the Caneel Hill bench

Hikers following the Caneel Hill Trail beginning from the National Park Visitors Center in Cruz Bay or from the Caneel Hill Spur will arrive at a wooden bench just before they reach the summit of Caneel Hill. There is now a view from this very welcomed resting spot that at least for the view to the north goes, rivals the view from the viewing tower at the summit. This thanks to the hard work and dedication of the trail crew from the Appalachian Mountain Club.

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St. John Virgin Islands Trails: New Cinnamon Bay Trail Overlook

St. John Trails: Cinnamon Bay Trail Overlook
View from new overlook on the Cinnamon Bay Trail
New Cinnamon Bay Overlook
view to the east

There’s something new to view for hikers on the Cinnamon Bay Trail.

Jeff Chabot group leader and volunteers working with the Appalachian Mountain Club in a cooperative venture with the Virgin Islands National Park and Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park have cleared an overlook along the trail, with views extending from Jost Van Dyke to St. Thomas and the northwestern cays.

Some years ago there was an overlook higher up on the trail near the top, which has long since overgrown.

The trail crew did an excellent job creating this new overlook. The view is spectacular!

Other overlooks that have now been cleared are the Lind Point Battery Overlook,  at the bench almost to the top of Caneel Hill on the Caneel Hill Trail, one on the Bordeaux Mountain Trail and another on the Lameshur Bay Trail.

We’ll be posting photos of these overlooks shortly…

Soon come… one on the Reef Bay Trail, the Francis Bay Salt Pond and two on the Johnny Horn Trail….

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St. John Virgin Islands: Caneel Hill Viewing Platform

Caneel Hill Viewing Tower
Caneel Hill Viewing Tower

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

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