A trip to St. John’s is not complete without visiting Signal Hill National Historic Site. A site that can be seen from almost anywhere in the city, Signal Hill topped with Cabot Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in St. John’s. With stunning panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean crashing into the rugged coastline meeting the city skyline, this site should be on the top of anyone’s list while in the city.
How To Get There
There are two ways to get to the top of Signal Hill – drive or hike.
From anywhere in St. John’s it is a short drive to the top of the hill. Travel east on either Empire Avenue, Duckworth Street, or Water Street until you reach Signal Hill Road. Head straight up Signal Hill Road and you will reach the top. Coordinates to put in your GPS (47 34 12.05 N 52 40 54.39 W)
If you want to hike to the top there are two options.
Option 1. You can hike up the paved road, in which case follow the directions above. There is a sidewalk that follows the car route all the way, with breathtaking scenery the entire walk.
Option 2. Hike the North Head Trail – This trail starts on Lower Battery Road and walks you through the beautiful homes that are a part of the battery, then as you climb a set of stairs that share a porch with one of the homes, you enter the narrows and hike along the footpath to North Head at the entrance to the St. John’s Harbour. From there you will climb a boardwalk staircase and continue to hike the footpath to the top of Signal Hill. This 1.7km trail takes approximately 90 minutes and climbs almost 500 feet.
Explore the Cabot Tower and take a journey back into the past while you learn about the history of Signal Hill. Here you will learn about the first transatlantic wireless transmission received by Guglielmo Marconi, the final battle of the Seven Years’ War fought at this site, its importance from the Napoleonic Wars all the way through to the Second World War, and much more.
The hiking trails around Signal Hill all provide panoramic views and stunning scenery at every twist and turn. Trails range from quick jaunts of 300m to 3.7km long hikes. The two most popular hikes are: the Queen’s Battery Barracks Trail which will take you from the visitor’s centre up to the Queen’s Battery Barracks and then to Cabot Tower at the top of the hill; and the North Head Trail, which is the most popular trail, but also the most difficult. As a 3.7km loop, the North Head Trail takes you from the top of the hill down the rugged coastline or on a climb up 500m in elevation.
Are you an amateur ham radio operator? There is an amateur radio station, VO1AA, that can be operated by visiting radio operators in the summer months!
If you happen to be visiting Signal Hill in the summer, be sure to take in the Signal Hill Tattoo that showcases the history of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Foot from 1812, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Band from 1795, and the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of 1917. With cannons, musket fire, and the impressive historical tunes of the Fife and Drum band it is a show not to be missed.
A visit to Signal Hill is a great way to start or end a tour of St. John’s. By taking in the sweeping landscape of city on the edge of the Atlantic and the hundreds of years of history, this National Historic Site is not to be missed.