Feb 022014
 

The L’Esperance Trail is located off Centerline Road.  From the Hummingbird Hill Villa you make a left out of the gate and right onto Centerline Road.  Travel on Centerline road for about 1.2 miles and the entrance to the trail is on your right.  There are a few parking spaces at the top of the trail.    On this day we would only hike about a mile in, but enough for some great sights, as there are ruins L' Esperance Trail head sign of an old house at the beginning of the trail.

L'Esperance trail head.Excerpted from St. John Off The Beaten Track © 2006 Gerald Singer

The L’Esperance Road runs between Centerline Road and Reef Bay. The foundation of an old house can be seen at the beginning of the road.  This is not an official Park trail.

History of the EstateLEsperance Map
The sugar industry in St. John was at its peak at the very end of the nineteenth century. In 1797, seventy one people lived on the estate, 92% of the land was improved, 156 acres were planted in sugar cane, 25 acres in provisions and 25 acres were used as pasture land where 38 cows grazed. Only 19 acres of the L’Esperance plantation were undeveloped and classified as woodland.

In 1830, the plantation stopped its sugar production operation and became a cattle and provision growing farm. This was a hardship for the slaves living on L’Esperance as they were removed from the plantation and from their families living on nearby estates.

By 1836, only ten acres of L’Esperance were developed and the population had fallen to 13.

L’Esperance was purchased by the municipal council for the residence of the local doctor for the island of St. John. The law at that time required the plantation owners to pay two cents per person for the services of the doctor, who was called doctor two-penny.

Records from 1875 report L’Esperance to have been abandoned.

Several Structures are located just past the stone bridge.

L'Esperance Ruins L'Esperance Ruins 2 Grave of Louise Sommer 1861L'Esperance Ruins 4 Grave of Louise Sommer 1861 bridge

A short Video of the L’ Esperance Ruins: http://youtu.be/Tc5k6mc7D_Y

Other helpful L’Esperance Links:

www.stjohnbeachguide.com

www.seestjohn.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dec 012012
 

Peace Hill

Just outside of  Cruz Bay heading North on 20 (North Shore Road) sits Peace Hill. Peace Hill is home to windmill ruins from the colonial and days and the former Christ of the Caribbean.  There is easy access to the Peace Hill trail head and plenty of parking.   Although the Christ of the Caribbean is no longer there the view and the ruins are worth the trip.

The Christ of  the CaChrist of Caribbeanribbean – In 1953, Col. Wadsworth commissioned St. Johnians Terrence Powell and Thomas Thomas to construct the Christ of the Caribbean.  The statue overlooked and blessed the land and sea.     Remarkably, as it seemed to  have the properties of a sail, the creation withstood numerous hurricanes.  However, it finally succumbed to the strength of Hurricane Marylyn in 1995.  The islanders decided not reconstruct  the statue. Much like the petroglyphs, the Christ of the Caribbean was a symbol of St. John and you could find, for example , gold and silver pendants in the shape of the statue in local shops.   After almost twenty years they are harder to find.

Peace Hill is still home to ruins of the Denis Bay area of the Susannaberg Plantation.   The very short hike (.1 mile) up to Peace Hill provides some incredible views of the north coast of St. John and is still a peaceful retreat.  You can venture further to explore the area, but be certain to take the time to visit Peace Hill on your way to the beach.

Peace Hill RuinsPeace Hill ViewPeace Hill ViewPeace Hill View 3

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Nov 302012
 

The last time I hiked Margaret Hill I entered from the trail head across from Caneel Bay resort. (see Hike to Water Catchment and Margaret Hill – Worth the view!) This time we entered from Centerline Road  and headed to the Watercatchment and then up to the Margaret Hill lookout.

Margaret Hill Entrance Centerline Road

Centerline Road Entrance

A shorter route than from the Caneel Bay entrance  to the Margaret Hill  overlook can be accessed from Centerline Road.  To get to the trail head from the Hummingbird Hill villa you exit the gate, turn left onto Gifft Hill Road and then turn left onto Centerline Road.   The trail entrance is on the right, a short distance on Centerline Road.  There is parking for one or two cars at the entrance and make sure you pull far enough off tOld cement gutter that led to the watercatchment basinhe road.

 The trail to the Caneel Bay watercatchment includes this old concrete gutter that led water to the basin.  Remains of the concrete can be seen as you hike down to the catchment from Centerline Road.  

Watercatchment(We visited the Watercatchment basin before heading up to the lookout.)

This lookout point rock can be seen from Hummingbird Hill’s pool deck if you look carefully. 

 

 

The extremely clear day afforded us some great views from the lookout point.

Margaret Hill lookout

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Sep 292012
 

Map at trail head Leinster Bay

Leinster Bay/Waterlemon Cay – Great Beach – Great Snorkeling

After visiting the Annaberg Sugar Mill ruins,  take the 0.8 mile hike to Leinster Bay/Waterlemon Cay.  The path to the beach is flat and shaded.   The walk hugs the shoreline and you hear the soft sounds of the surf.   The area is a nesting ground for Sea Turtles and you are bound to see them on your adventure.

From the beach, you can access the fine snorkeling around Waterlemon Cay, the small island just offshore.  The shoreline water is shallow, and the sea floor is a mixture of sand and coral rubble. You will find that  the sea-life accessible to snorkelers is abundant along the shoreline as you head out to the Cay, so be prepared to spend time mask down enjoying the scenery.  It is about a 0.2-mile snorkel to the edge of the reef off Waterlemon Cay.

Along with the turtles you will see stingray’s, sea cucumbers, blue tangs, parrotfish, sea fans and sea plumes, starfish, barracuda, clown fish, squid etc… While the turtles pop their heads up the pelicans take a dive.   Leinster/Waterlemon Cay is a great experience. The sound of the small waves and calm waters on the beach makes for a relaxing day. The trip to Waterlemon adds the adventure.

Waterlemon Cay - St.John USVI

Waterlemon Cay is the small island in the center
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May 302012
 

I decided not to stay on the beach as the sign just outside of Caneel Bay Resort for the Caneel trail was on my mind. My wife had done the trial years ago and said the view was spectacular. So I dropped my son and his friend off at Hawksnest Beach while I ventured the trail for my first time. I did a loop that took me first to the Water Catchment.      (A wrong turn took me to  Centerline road) but I ventured back and finally made the climb to Margaret Hill – worth the effort. My total time on the trail was just under two hours.

Here is my hike in words, images and video. If you get the chance take the trail.

Caneel Trail Mileage

Margaret Hill - Water Catchment Trail Map, St. John USVI

My Trail Map for hike to the Water Catchment and Margaret Hill Overlook, St. John USVI

I parked at the entrance to the trial on Rte. 20 just across the entrance to Caneel Bay. I had Margaret Hill as a destination, but first stopped at Water Catchment. I realized later that the trail sign at the trail head needs to be combined with the a trail map (see below and combination on the left) as I at first did not understand how I got to the Catchment first, then up to Centerline Road.  I went back to an unmarked cutoff where I should have gone right, not left .  However,  it was all worth it as I eventually made my way to the wonderful view at Margaret Hill.

National Park Map - Caneel Hill Trail

Caneel Trail National Park Map

 

 

Quickly into the hike you encounter an old stone retaining wall.

This beautiful stone wall is encountered quickly on the hike

You then begin your ascent on a well groomed trail.

Begin your ascent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following the path takes you to the Water Catchment. The catchment is an extensive concrete slab that catches rainwater, leading it into a basin for temporary storage. The water is piped through the force of gravity to the Caneel Bay Resort.

Water Catchment at St. John USVI

Water Catchment, St. John USVI

There are views from various spots when you get close to the top. I was able to slip between some rocks to experience some great views before a small side trail gives you access to a “Platform Rock” with panoramic views.

View from Margaret Hill, St. John USVI

View from Margaret Hill

 

 

 

 

 

A short Margaret Hill trail video

The Caneel Hill portion of this trail can be accessed from Cruz Bay and is a bit more challenging.  The easiest way to get to the Margaret Hill views is to access the trail from Centerline Road.  When you exit the gate at Hummingbird Hill Villa, turn left.  Then turn left onto Centerline road.  The trial entrance will be on your right.   Enjoy your stay on St. John, USVI!

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Apr 132012
 

A hike to Annaberg  - A wonderful self guided tourThe Historic Annaberg Sugar Mill Ruins on the Island of St. John offers a great look into the history of sugar production on the island.  The Annaberg Historic District is located east of Mary Point accessible by the North Shore and Leinster Bay roads on St. John’s north shore.  Annaberg is easily accessible as a short 0.2 mile walk brings you to the historic site which is maintained by the Virgin Islands National Park and open to the public. It is a great stop on your way to nearby Leinster Bay, where there is terrific snorkeling.

This visit was special. A holiday celebration provided a treat as the islanders were celebrating with live music and island fare.

Annaberg was once one of the larger sugar plantations on St. John. The remains of the 40 foot windmill and horsemill, used to crush the sugar cane to extract its juice, still stand. Much of the sugar factory, where the juice was boiled and condensed to make raw sugar, remain as well, as does part of the rum still. Cultural demonstrations, including baking “dumb bread” and basket weaving take place Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Annaberg Windmill

To get to Annaberg from Hummingbird Hill: 

Turn left out of the gate on to Gifft Hill Road (Rt 104.)
At the end turn right onto Centerline Road (RT. 10).
From Centerline Road, turn north on Route 20 near the Colombo Yogurt stand.  Head down the hill and turn right at the first intersection. 
This will take you to the Leinster Bay shoreline where you will turn right and proceed to the Annaberg parking area at the end of the paved road.

Check out the directions on the interactive park service maps.

St. John  Off The Beaten Track by Gerald Singer

 

For more information on Annaberg see St. John USVI Places: Annaberg – Excerpted from St. John Off the Beaten Track © 2006 Gerald Singer

Or the National Park Service website or an old Park Service brochure on the Annaberg Sugar Mill

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Jan 092012
 
Reef Bay Trail Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs

The Reef Bay Trail hike is about a 2 hour hike one way.  There is great history tied to the trail and of course you get to see the Petroglyphs.   I ran a cross  a very good description of the hike at Travel Shop Girl’s blog. Hiking the Reef Bay Trail.   If you are considering the trail or just want to learn more about the island take the time to read it.   There is a ton of information on this trial and here are a few more great sources:

National Parks Traveler:  Trails I’ve Hiked: Reef Bay Trail, Virgin Islands National Park

Trip Advisor:  Reef Bay Trail

A YouTube Video by Drew Blitz

Regarding the Petroglyphs How about “Lost” petroglyph found by Park volunteers

Lost Petroglyphs

New/old Petroglphys found by Park Rangers

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Dec 032011
 

One of the great things about St. John, USVI is its natural attractions.  Whether you want to relax at the beach, hike or take on more adventurous excursions, St. John offers opportunities  for the entire family to enjoy.  This article appeared in the Holiday 2011 edition of Going Places  in Chicago Parent and was  written by Linda Marsicano.  It touches a few of  the options St. John offers with insight from Frank Barnako author of the News of St. John Blog.  Check it out and hopefully it will inspire  you to make the trip – you won’t be disappointed!

St. John: Nature’s playground

Linda Marsicano

There are no water parks, no mini-golf courses and no kid-centric all-inclusives on the 28-square-mile island of St. John in the U.S Virgin Islands. Yet this picturesque tropical destination, accessible only by ferry, has something more captivating than manmade entertainment for families-it boasts attractions only nature can create.

Two-thirds of the island is protected as national park territory, providing a safeguard against the rampant development that permeates much of the Caribbean... Read the Full article at http://chicagoparent.com/magazines/going-places/2011-holiday/st-john  

 

There is great hiking, plenty of beautiful beaches to explore and the occasional wildlife:) around the corner!

World's best beaches

Beautiful Beaches

Goats roam the streets

Don't forget the goats

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