Newfoundland – Signal Hill’s North Head Trail

Signal Hill, located in Newfoundland, holds great historical and cultural significance for the region. Sitting above the city of St. John’s, this iconic hill has witnessed centuries of naval battles, military defenses, and signal communication. Today, Signal Hill stands as a symbol of resilience and an important landmark attracting visitors from near and far.

Among the various hikes and walks on Signal Hill, the North Head Trail stands out as a must-experience adventure for hiking enthusiasts. This trail offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, rugged cliffs, and the vibrant cityscape below. With its well-maintained paths and diverse flora and fauna, the North Head Trail is a popular choice for nature lovers, history enthusiasts, and outdoor adventurers alike.

steps on North Head Trail

Embarking on the North Head Trail allows hikers to immerse themselves in the rich history of Signal Hill while enjoying the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

Whether you’re seeking a peaceful nature retreat or an opportunity to learn about Newfoundland’s storied past, this trail offers a captivating journey that will leave you in awe of the natural and historical wonders of Signal Hill. Lace up your hiking boots and get ready to explore the North Head Trail on Signal Hill.

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Signal Hill path

Location and Accessibility

Signal Hill is located near St. John’s, Newfoundland. It is situated just a short distance from the city center, making it easily accessible for visitors. There are a few transportation options available to reach Signal Hill. If you prefer to drive, there are parking facilities available at the site. Additionally, if you prefer public transportation, there are bus routes that can take you to Signal Hill.

the city of St' John'sfrom signal hill, newfoundland

North Head Trail Description

The North Head Trail offers breathtaking views of the coastline and notable landmarks along the way, such as Cabot Tower.

Length: The North Head Trail is approximately 2.5 kilometers long.

Difficulty Level: The trail is considered moderately difficult, with some steep sections and uneven terrain. Proper hiking gear and footwear are recommended.

Estimated Hiking Time: On average, it takes about 1 to 1.5 hours to complete the North Head Trail, depending on your pace and the time spent enjoying the viewpoints.

Notable Landmarks and Viewpoints: Along the trail, you’ll come across Cabot Tower, a historic landmark offering panoramic views of the city, coastline, and Atlantic Ocean. Other viewpoints provide stunning vistas of the rugged cliffs, picturesque harbors, and the surrounding natural beauty.

It is one of the most popular hiking trails in that area, but, many start at the top and hike their way down. I started at the bottom and had to ascend 500 feet!

Historical and Cultural Significance

Signal Hill holds immense historical and cultural significance. One of its notable achievements is its connection to Marconi’s first transatlantic wireless transmission in 1901. This groundbreaking event revolutionized global communication and solidified Signal Hill’s place in history.

Signal Hill Cabot Tower

Additionally, Signal Hill played a crucial role during World War II as a strategic lookout point. It served as a vital location for monitoring enemy activities and providing early warnings. The hill’s commanding view made it an invaluable asset for coastal defense.

Moreover, Signal Hill is associated with several significant events and historical figures. For instance, it was believed to be a site of great importance for the indigenous peoples of the area, including the Tongva and Gabrieleno tribes. These tribes recognized the hill’s elevated position and utilized it for ceremonial purposes.

Furthermore, Signal Hill has been a symbol of growth and prosperity due to its rich oil history. The discovery of oil in the early 20th century brought an influx of people and wealth to the region, transforming Signal Hill into an important oil-producing centre.

looking out to sea from signal Hill

Natural Beauty and Wildlife

The North Head Trail offers breathtaking natural beauty with its scenic landscapes, majestic cliffs, and lush vegetation. As you traverse this trail, you’ll be captivated by the awe-inspiring vistas that unfold before you. The rugged cliffs provide dramatic backdrops, while the surrounding vegetation creates a serene and tranquil atmosphere.

In addition to its stunning landscapes, the North Head Trail also offers exciting wildlife encounters. Hikers may have the opportunity to spot various species of birds, making it a dream destination for birdwatching enthusiasts. Keep an eye out for seabirds such as puffins, gannets, and black-legged kittiwakes, which nest along the cliffs. The trail also provides habitat for other wildlife, including seals, whales, and the occasional glimpse of bald eagles soaring overhead.

Nearby Attractions

When visiting Signal Hill, make sure to explore the surrounding area and check out these other attractions and activities:

  1. Quidi Vidi Village: Take a short trip to Quidi Vidi Village, a charming fishing village located just a few minutes away from Signal Hill. Explore its picturesque harbor, visit the Quidi Vidi Brewery for a taste of local craft beer, and immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of this quaint community.

  2. Cape Spear: Head east from Signal Hill and discover Cape Spear, the easternmost point of North America. Enjoy breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and the Atlantic Ocean. Don’t miss the historic Cape Spear Lighthouse, which offers a glimpse into Newfoundland’s maritime heritage.

view from signal hill


Hiking in Newfoundland is always a fun time. You are subject to instant weather changes, gusty winds, and a barrage of black flies in the heavily wooded areas. But, if you take to the coastal trails, you are greeted with views surpassed by few.

Signal Hill and the North Head Trail are popular attractions in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Signal Hill offers stunning panoramic views of the city and the Atlantic Ocean, and is home to Cabot Tower, a historic landmark. The North Head Trail is a scenic hiking trail that takes visitors along the rugged coastline, offering breathtaking vistas and opportunities to spot wildlife.

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