My new favorite hike! You may have realized we’ve been hiking quite a lot lately and if you follow us on instagram @lovecityexcursions you’ve probably seen a few of these photos already. Last Sunday we hiked the Johnny Horn Trail which I’ve done a few times but for some reason I’ve never taken the detour over to the Murphy Great House, which is what we finally did and it was so beautiful and amazing! Sometimes this little island astounds me with it’s beauty and it’s always so good to remember how lucky we are to live here!
The trail starts technically at the entrance to Leinster Bay (you can park in the parking lot for the Annaberg Ruins) and meanders over a flat 1/2 mile or so before you reach the sandy beach where you go to the right and up the trail.
The first part of the walk is really beautiful as the entirety is along the shore line. This is actually one of our favorite snorkeling spots on CatZilla, called 3 Buoy Reef. It’s sort of accessible by shore too, you just have to be extremely careful of sea urchins.
Once you get to the main trailhead for the Johnny Horn Trail it’s only about ten minutes up to the first set of ruins which was an Old Danish Guard House. This structure was created and manned by cannons and armed soldiers as a way to prevent slaves from swimming over to Tortola, which had already abolished slavery.
View from Inside The Guard House
If you decide to continue on up to The Murphy Great House or even all the way to Coral Bay, the next part is a little steeper and about another 15 minutes until you reach the sign for the ruins. It’s still a relatively easy hike compared to Caneel Hill and some others on Saint John, but the views are unbeatable!
The Murphy Great House was owned by James E. Murphy, wealthy St Thomas merchant and profitable slave trader. He acquired the land ranging from Annaberg and Francis bay all the way up to the Great House and had every inch of it planted in sugarcane. He was and is to date the most successful and largest sugar producer in Saint John history but also had the islands largest labor force ever (most of it being slaves.)
The great house, by current standards would be a mansion; so imagining this structure being built and occupied before 1900 really puts in perspective the amount of wealth Murphy was tied to. It’s said that he turned Waterlemon Bay into a veritable port city with his ships and laborers coming and going frequently.
The storm of 1916 blew the majority of the house down, but there is still a vast amount of ruins to explore and imagine including a veranda enviable by most!
Waterlemon Key viewed from the great house
The perfect spot for a picnic and some wine!
Once you’ve had your fill of the amazing view, you can either head back down to Leinster Bay or you can continue on into Coral Bay. We recommend doing the latter, as the trail ends very close to Indigo Grill; who has great pizza and an awesome happy hour!
Enjoy the hike, and make sure you bring lots of water and snacks are always recommended!