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

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!

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

Jan 092012
Reef Bay Trail 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