But, let’s back up a bit. While we were moored in Maho Bay we decided to go on a “short” hike to some of the local ruins on St. John Island. We took the tender to shore, changed into our hiking shoes, and started up the hill to the Cinnamon plantation and America Hill House. The walk to Cinnamon plantation is an easy road walk up and down a hill about a mile from the waters of Maho Bay. The trail itself isn’t much to speak of. The Virgin Islands National Park Service maintains the plantation. They maintain historical markers and information signs throughout the ruins. The plantation straddles 300 acres along the north coast of St. John Island. The first records of the plantation date back to 1739 when Adriana and Jasper Jansen purchased the land. As far back as 1805 the Cinnamon Bay plantation was growing sugarcane. Today the limestone foundations of buildings and chimneys are all that is left of the once sprawling estate.
The America Hill House is accessed by a branch of the Cinnamon Bay trail. The first half of the America Hill spur is the most difficult with a very steep and rocky incline. Once you summit the rocky terrain the trail levels off a little bit. The five switchback turns make the rest of the elevation a little easier to bear. At the top you are greeted by tropical flowers, stone ruins, and stunning views of the Caribbean. America Hill House has a once beautiful coral lime plaster façade in a neoclassical design. The area is on the National Register of Historic Places. From America Hill House you can see Maho and Francis Bays. You can even see all the way to Tortola. When you reach the top you fully understand the planning and work that went into creating a once magnificent building in a beautiful place. This was the end of our planned hike. It was almost 10 am and we were sitting on the limestone wall enjoying some trail mix. That’s when I asked Lisa if she wanted to take the short route back the way we came or continue on the rest of the Cinnamon Bay trail around to Maho Bay. She chose the long way. I think she even shook her fists, smiled, and said “the long way, the long way”.
After our snack and some flights with the drone we took off to finish the Cinnamon Bay trail. The trail went halfway back down the hill before turning towards highway 10. It was another up and down trail that was well maintained. We traversed rocks, mud, and small streams along the way. There were some amazing views to be had. After we made it to Highway 10 it was another 2 miles of walking along the road before we made it back to Maho Bay. It wasn’t very difficult but the hills never seemed to end. We enjoyed a tasty hamburger and a few drinks from the food trucks in Maho bay before taking the tender back to Unwritten Timeline. It was a full day of walking and exploring. We made it almost 6 miles up and down 1000’ in elevation.
Check back next week when we continue on around the island of St. John.