Signal Hill - North Head Trail (NFLD)

St. John's, Newfoundland

Fireweed over St. John's

Signal flags on the ramparts

A spectacular vista


This historic site celebrates the rich communications and military history of Signal Hill and sits amidst a spectacular view of St. John's and the sea. Signal Hill was the reception point of the first transatlantic wireless signal by Guglielmo Marconi in 1901, as well as the site of harbour defences for St. John's from the 18th century to the Second World War. Enjoy a performance of the 19th-century military drills by the Signal Hill Tattoo (in season), or take a hike from the summit along the coast and harbour entrance.




Three different hospitals were operated on the Hill between 1870 and 1920; all were destroyed by fire. It was in one of these facilities, the Diphtheria and Fever Hospital, that Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless signal on December 12, 1901.

Between 1898 to 1900, Cabot Tower, St. John's most visible landmark, was constructed in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, and the 400th anniversary of John Cabot's ''Voyage of Discovery.'' The Tower was used for signalling until 1960. Today the tower contains exhibits describing Marconi's wireless reception at Signal Hill and a gift shop.

One of the Site's most appealing attractions is an extensive walking trail, called the Lookout Trail, on the summit of Signal Hill. On the St. John's side, a low wall suggests the wooden stockade wall and half-moon batteries which protected the summit from attack. Towards the ''Narrows'' a stone walled viewing deck represents the area where the Duke of York's Battery once stood. Other viewing bays on the seaward side of the summit provide marvellous views of the Atlantic ocean and the rugged coastline. Along the trail, a number of interpretive panels provide insight into the history, geography and climate that have played such a critical role in defining our culture. The Lookout Trail is a joint project, funded by the Johnson Family Foundation and Parks Canada. The Johnson Family Foundation is a registered charitable foundation which ''initiates and supports measures that recognize, emphasize, clarify, preserve and sustain the history, traditions, nature and scenery of the Province of Newfoundland.''

Signal Hill and Cabot Tower have come to symbolize St. John's historic past. Signal Hill National Historic Site will introduce you to many of the most important and interesting aspects of that history.


The North Head Trail is the most popular hiking trail at Signal Hill National Historic Site of Canada. Hikers can connect with it from the parking lot at the top of the hill. From there they will descend boardwalk stairs and follow a footpath to North Head at the entrance to St. John's Harbour, along the narrows where they eventually connect to the Lower Battery Road. This 1.7 km hike will take approximately 90 minutes and descends almost 500 feet. The trail is maintained for safety and enjoyment but the following safety rules are recommended:

  • Young children and persons who have difficulty walking long distances on steep terrain should not attempt this trail. This trail is classified as difficult.
  • Be prepared - wear sturdy footwear with ankle support and be sure to let someone know where you are going.
  • Stay on the trail and do not attempt short cuts. Parts of the coastline can be dangerous.
  • In the event of wet weather, fog, or strong winds you should postpone your hike.
  • If in doubt or if you have questions, please check with a Park official before starting.
  • Signal Hill Trail