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A Photo Guide to the World’s Largest Non-Polar Icefield

We had the opportunity to go up in a Helio Courier C-GXFB with Icefield Discovery to experience the worlds largest non-polar icefield in Kluane National Park and Reserve in Canada’s Yukon Territory.  Soaring 6000 feet in the sky through the Saint Elias Mountain Range over the Slims River Valley, Kaskawulsh Glacier and the hundreds of giants with their snow covered peaks is a once in a lifetime experience.

Our one and a half hour flight took us past the giants that call the Saint Elias Mountain Range home including Mount Washington, Mount King George, Mount Kennedy, Mount Saint Elias, Mount Logan and so many more.  Landing next to the Icefield Discovery Base Camp with Mount Logan in the forefront towering before everything around it is a must do experience.  We had the opportunity to step out onto the snow on the worlds largest non-polar icefield where very few people have ever had a chance to explore was surreal experience.  To read about our entire flightseeing experience with Icefield Discovery make sure to read our post!

Aerial view of Kaskawulsh Glacier
Close up of the Kaskawulsh Glacier
Kaskawulsh Glacier
Meltwater on the Kaskawulsh Glacier
Beautiful blue water in the mountains
Largest non-polar glacial icefield in the world in front of Mt. Logan
Icefield Discovery Plane on the icefield

Aerial view of the Slims River Valley downstream of the Kaskawulsh Glacier in Kluane National Park
Aerial view of the Slims River Valley downstream of the Kaskawulsh Glacier in Kluane National Park
Kaskawulsh Glacier
Kaskawulsh Glacier
Kaskawulsh Glacier

Kaskawulsh Glacier
Icefield Discovery Plane Sitting in front of Mt Logan
Kaskawulsh Glacier
Kaskawulsh Glacier
Kaskawulsh Glacier
Kaskawulsh Glacier

Watch our video of our flightseeing adventure to the worlds largest non-polar icefield below!

Explore the Paddlewheel Graveyard, Dawson City

Crashed into the banks of the Yukon River across from Dawson City and left to sit and become a playground for adventurers, this Paddlewheel Graveyard is a unique piece of history in the Yukon.  Tucked hidden amongst the Spruce Trees on the west bank of the Yukon River, several paddlewheelers have been left here in their final resting place after many years of handwork on the Yukon River.  The paddlewheelers that were once the primary mode of transportation for the Yukon were abandoned once highways and roads became a viable option throughout the territory.  These once beautiful ships now linger waiting for you to explore their collapsed wooden structures and rotting struts.

Here is our experience exploring the Paddlewheel Graveyard!

Getting to the Paddlewheel Graveyard

Board the George Black Ferry (landing at the north end of Front Street) in Dawson City, and travel across the Yukon River towards the Top of the World Highway (Highway #9).  The ferry runs 24 hours a day and takes about 5 minutes to make its crossing.  Once you have crossed the river, make a right turn into the Yukon River Campground and continue to the end of the road before it begins to loop back around to the entrance.  There is a large campground, and to the left there is a gate that leads to the beach.  We parked here for a short time period and walked along the beach.  Head north (downstream) along the Yukon River about 300 metres and you will find the Paddlewheel Graveyard.  Depending on the time of the season, you can either walk along the beach or follow the trail in the woods.

Be careful as the Paddlewheel Graveyard is unmanaged and should be explored at your own risk.  If you are unsure of anything make sure to drop by the Visitor Information Centre to ask about weather and water levels before venturing over.


Photos from the Paddlewheel Graveyard

The remains of 7 or 8 historic paddlewheel boats can be found lodged into the forest on the shore of the Yukon River across from Dawson City.  These once primary modes of transportation in the Dawson region are now wrecks full of broken parts and rotting wooden struts.  It looks as if the ships were crashed up on the shore.  The majority of the wrecks have collapsed over the years but a few ships still retain their shape thanks to their metal skeletons.  Explore these once beautiful ships but make sure to be very careful as nails, scraps of metal and other debris are littered all throughout the ground on the beach and in the woods, and the structures are no longer stable.

The broken ships of paddlewheel graveyard outside of Dawson City, Yukon. 
 
  

VIDEO: Exploring Dawson City, Yukon

The town of Dawson City is inseparably linked to the Klondike Gold Rush and for good reason – this real life gold rush town still looks and feels very much like it did in the 1890’s during the Klondike Gold Rush. From visiting Dredge No. 4 National Historic Site, walking the streets of Dawson, exploring the shipwreck graveyard, visiting Discovery Claim and more Dawson City has so much to see and do you will not want to miss this beautiful city! Explore with us as we stroll the dirt roads of Dawson and relive the past!

We had so much fun exploring Dawson City and cannot wait to go back!

Make sure to check out all our videos from our trip through the Yukon at our YouTube Channel here!

25 Photos That Will Make You Want To Visit Dawson City

The town of Dawson City is inseparably linked to the Klondike Gold Rush and for good reason – this real life gold rush town that looks and feels very much like it did in the 1890’s during the Klondike Gold Rush.  As you walk the streets you relive the history of the stampeders that came to Dawson in hopes of finding gold.  Set at the narrow shelf at the meeting of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers, a mere 240km south of the Arctic Circle, Dawson City is still today best known for its gold mining past and present.  Today, as you drive into Dawson from the south you can see remnants of old gold fields and dredge tailings.  Wander the dirt roads of the town, passing buildings riddled with permafrost foundations that are slowly sinking into the ground and experience the rich culture of the city.  From the gold fields, Dredge No. 4 National Historic Site, the midnight dome, Diamond Tooth Gerties, the historic buildings throughout the city, S.S. Keno National Historic site and more there is so much to see in Dawson City!

View from Midnight Dome looking down on Dawson City, Yukon.

Here are 26 photos that will inspire you to visit Dawson City!

The paddlewheeler that takes people on tours of the Yukon River in Dawson City, Yukon.Diamond Tooth Gerties located in Dawson City, YukonDiamond Tooth Gertie and her dancing ladies at Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall in Dawson City, Yukon.An old abandoned building located on the main streets of Dawson City, Yukon.

Arial shot of Dredge Number Four National Historic Site just outside of Dawson City, Yukon.

One of the dancing ladies at Diamond Tooth Gerties during their nightly shows in Dawson City, Yukon.The dancing cancan girls at Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall in Dawson City, Yukon.Klondike Kates Cabin sign in Dawson City, Yukon.The post office located in the downtown of Dawson City, Yukon. The S.S. Keno sitting on the banks of the Yukon River in Dawson City, Yukon.CNA Photography taking a photo of the old paddlewheelers crashed on the shores of the Yukon River at the Paddlewheel Graveyard in Dawson City, Yukon.Nicole of CNA Photography in a dredge bucket outside of Dredge Number 4 National historical site outside of Dawson City, Yukon.

Two Parks Canada chairs sitting on the banks of Discovery Claim where the first gold was found that spawned the Klondike Gold Rush. View from Midnight Dome looking down on Dawson City, Yukon.

2017 Canada 150th Birthday Bucket List

2017 means a new year filled with new adventures and possibilities as well as marks the year of Canada 150th Birthday! This year we will be focusing on our travels within Canada as our beautiful country celebrates its 150th birthday and all of the parks, national historic sites and national marine sites are free to the public.

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday admission to all Parks Canada places will be free for the entirety of 2017.  In order to gain free admission to the parks you must order your free parks pass by ordering their 2017 Discovery Pass (free of charge) here: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/voyage-travel/admission.aspx

With 47 national parks, 171 national historic sites and 4 national marine conservation areas there is so much to discover from coast to coast.  We plan on attempting to explore as many of these national parks and historic sites before the end of 2017. Below is our bucket list items to celebrate Canada 150th birthday broken down by province.

*Note: Each of the site links will not be clickable until we have visited the site and written a blog post on it! If there is a road symbol next to it its still on our bucket list.  You can tell we have visited the site when there is a check next to it!

 During 2017 for Canada 150th Birthday we have visited 8/47 National Parks, 20/171 National Historic Sites & 1/4 National Marine sites so far. 

Killarney Provincial Park

Ever wanted to remove yourself from the busy hustle and bustle of the city and go somewhere really remote?  Well then you will find that Killarney Provincial Park is exactly what you are looking for.  Killarney park, also called ‘The Jewel of Ontario’, is one of Canada’s most beautiful parks. A beautiful five hour drive from Toronto will take you through the Canadian Shield and what feels like country road driving while still remaining on paved roads.  Your last hour of the drive is very peaceful on Highway 637, the only road in and out of Killarney.  Make sure you keep your eyes out for fox, deer and even black bears as they are known to be out at all hours of the day.

 

Here is our experience at camping at Killarney Provincial Park!

Getting to Killarney Provincial Park

Located only five hours north of Toronto you head up the 400 to to Highway 69 until you need to take a left down ON-637 where you will spend the last hour on and off paved and gravol roads heading into Killarney.  Once you turn down On-637 there is only one gas station and convenience store along the road until you hit the town of Killarney so make sure you have a full tank of gas and some snacks!

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Killarney Provincial Park is located 10 km before the town of Killarney on the right hand side of the highway.


Killarney Provincial Park – George Lake Campground

We managed to book a stunning campsite in Killarney Provincial Park that was right on the lake (Site 87)!  The site was a bit windy at night with a storm coming off of the lake, but the view was worth it!  If you ever get a chance to book a site on the waterfront, this is the way to go.  If you are planning on booking a site in Killarney, you will have to plan well in advance as they only have just over 100 drive in campsites and another 180 back-country canoe access sites.  The majority of the front country campground sites have a decent amount of privacy and are all within walking distance to both the bathrooms and the lake.

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The first thing you need to do upon arriving in Killarney Provincial Park once you arrive at your campsite is lock up all your food,  toiletries, and anything that may attract animals.  The bears, deer, and the raccoons will wander through your site at any time of day.  If you are like us and sometimes travel with the roof and doors off on our Jeep, Ontario Parks will happily provide you with a bear-proof box that is big enough to fit a cooler and lots more.  Despite us locking up the majority of our stuff, a raccoon managed to find the one item that we left in the tent and pestered us all night to find more!

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What to do in and around Killarney Provincial Park

Killarney is home to some of the most beautiful hiking in the area, so we took to the trails to explore.  We parked the Jeep in town and then hiked out to the Killarney East Lighthouse.  The lighthouse rests on rock 30 feet above Georgian Bay and provides incredible views.

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On our way hiking back into town we decided we would stay there for dinner and check out the downtown main street.  Killarney was founded in 1820 as a fur trading post on Georgian Bay.
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We had dinner at the Mountain Lodge and sat out on the bar deck and watched the sun go down.  One of our favourite spots for watching the sunset is down on the docks by the Mountain Lodge.  The way the sun reflects on the bay makes for some great photos!

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The drive back to the provincial park from the town is only about 10 minutes into the park gates. Although chilly, George Lake offers a nice refreshing swim with a sandy bottom at the shore.  We were able to walk right from our site into the water for a refreshing night swim before bed.  If you enjoy stargazing, this is the ideal place with very little light pollution allowing you to see thousands of stars from your campsite.

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Chris and I explored all of the drive in campsites as we walked around to see if we could get an idea of where we would like to camp next year when we come back.  Killarney offers great sites with close proximity to the bathrooms and a short drive to the main bathhouses.  Next time I would explore the back-country lots as there are 645 square kilometres of the park to be explored for those willing to paddle their way into those remote areas.

Top 5 Things to Do in Killarney

The historic village of Killarney welcomes over 100,000 visitors each year, and it is no surprise why.  With its magnificent landscapes that inspired the Group of Seven artists, the spectacular provincial park is considered the ‘Jewel of the Ontario Parks system’.  With the oldest community on the North Shore covering just over 1500 square-km of rugged Canadian shield and the provincial park covering an additional 645 square-km, this area offers a unique opportunity for all kinds of visitors and activities. These might include avid kayakers and canoers, both drive-in and back country camping, boating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, fantastic hiking trails, and more.  The village of Killarney is located just 10 km from Killarney Provincial Park and offers a variety of lodging and great food for all tastes.

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Here are the top five activities to experience in Killarney

— HIKE THE KILLARNEY LIGHTHOUSE TRAIL —

This Lighthouse Trail begins on the east side of the entrance to Killarney Mountain Lodge.  The hike itself is about 5km round trip and is not a loop so you will be returning on the same path you hiked out on.  This hike provides hikers with an unforgettable view of open water Georgian Bay and its rugged pink granite shoreline.  The trail winds you through a mixed forest of pine, red maple and spruce.  Once you reach the base of Mount East you are only a short climb to the top to the scenic view of the bay and far off islands.  As you continue down the path you will get a chance to view the coves created by the last ice age and the iconic lighthouse located on the point of Killarney.  Once you reach the lighthouse you are treated with a breathtaking view of the north shore of Georgian Bay.  This lighthouse dates back to 1866 where Killarney residents operated the lighthouse each night and they did so until 1980 when the lighthouse became fully automated.

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If you are in a rush and do not have 2-3 hours to do the hike, you can also drive in most of the way to the lighthouse – leaving you with only a quick climb up the rocks to see the lighthouse and viewpoints. To get here, you travel East along Ontario Street until you reach the end of the road – take your time as the road is in rough shape and can be slippery if there has been a recent rain fall.  Make sure to watch for hikers travelling along the side of the road.

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— HIKE THE CRACK TRAIL —

The Crack Trail begins 7km outside the provincial park in a small parking lot that is marked by a small sign with two diamonds.  The Crack is the most difficult hike in the area and is a 6km round trip with suggested time of 3-4 hours to complete.  This is not a looped trail as if you continue going past the crack itself you will end up on a 7-10 day hiking trail through the La Cloche Mountains.  This hike starts off on an old logging road that is level and easily navigated for 1.5km until joining up with La Cloche Silhouette Trail at which point becomes much more rugged.

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Beyond Kakakaise Lake, the trail becomes incredibly steep and more rugged as the forest starts to disappear and gives way to the exposed quartzite outcrops and cliffs that dominate the area.  Once you reach the top, you will experience the iconic Killarney views of the glacial lakes shimmering under the blue skys framed by the La Cloche Mountains and age old pine forests.  This is a place you do not want to forget your camera – this will be a view you won’t want to forget.

— Relax in the Killarney Mountain Lodge Carousel Lounge —

The Killarney Mountain Lodge recently upgraded their already beautiful lodge and made this unique octogonal lounge into a chic place to stop in for a drink and appetizer.  Between the comfy couches, the panoramic view of the marina and the great service, make sure you stop in for a cocktail.  The extensive food and drink menu allows for a full sit down dinner or a quick drink or bite before heading off on your next adventure.  None the less, make sure to stop in at the Mountain Lodge as it is a staple in the village of Killarney.

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  — SPEND A NIGHT IN KILLARNEY PROVINCIAL PARK —

Killarney Provincial Park is the crown jewel on the Ontario Parks and it is a must see if you are making the trek into this area.  The dramatic landscapes inspired the Group of Seven to paint many beautiful paintings of the surrounding area.  With only 126 drive in campsites, make sure to book your reservations well ahead of time.  The park is one of Ontarios most popular wilderness destinations, and its limited facilities offer visitors a chance to experience the solitude and beauty of this undisturbed natural setting.  The park is an outdoor enthusiasts playground with spectacular hiking trails, beautiful clear lakes to canoe or kayak on, wildlife watching, star gazing and so much more.  Killarney sees over 100,000 overnight visitors a year with an additional 40,000+ day visitors to the park each year, and when you get a chance to visit you will understand why this one of a kind park is such a special place in Ontario.

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— GO ON A KAYAK OR CANOE TRIP —

One of the most popular activities to do in Killarney Provincial Park besides hiking is canoing or kayaking.  The park offers numerous canoe routes that give you access to areas of the park interior that you can only reach by water.  The routes vary from a weekend paddle to up to two weeks, depending on your pace.  The interior canoe routes include portages which can be several kilometers long with often significant elevation gain.  Before you head out, make sure you choose a route that matches your skill set and objectives for the trip.  Here is a list of the routes that are available:

  • Bell David Lake Loop (2 Days)
  • Carlyle-Killarney Lake Loop (2 Days)
  • George – Norway Lake Loop (2-3 Days)
  • Nellie Lake Loop (2-3 Days)
  • George Lake to Baie Fine (3 Days)
  • Charlton-Cat Lake Loop (4 Day)
  • George Threenarrows Lake Loop (4 Days)
  • Bell-Threenarrows Lake Loop (4-5 Days)
  • Bell Lake-Baie Fine Loop (6-7 Days)
  • Charlton-Great Mountain Lake Loop (7-8 Days)
  • North Boundary Loop (9-10 Days)

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All of these routes are well laid out and described in detail in the Killarney Provincial Park Canoe Guide which includes maps.  Often on these routes you will find yourself on your own with nature and for that reason it is truly is a wilderness park that makes it one of the most popular canoeing and kayaking destinations in Ontario.

Visiting Signal Hill at Sunrise

For most people getting up at 4AM isn’t ideal, and I myself aren’t normally a morning person, but when I have the opportunity to see the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean and Scenic Hill, I don’t have any problem! On this particular morning my friend and I decided to take a cab from our hotel as it was still dark and allowed us to save some time. We arrived for 4:30AM, at the top of Signal Hill got a great seat on the wall and waited for the sun to break the horizon.  Waiting at the top of Signal Hill at sunrise being the only two at the top of the hill was one of those experiences I will never forget.

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It was a foggy morning in St. John’s and that was only magnified at the top of the hill.  I was a little worried we wouldn’t get much of a sunrise, but regardless we would still get to have a great hike back down!

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As the sun began to rise above the horizon we started our hike down the North Head Trail.  It was very peaceful as there was no one else on the trails at that time of morning.  The temperature was perfect and the winds were mild which set us up with great conditions for the hike.

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Although the sky did not completely glow during the sunrise, its occasional pink and purple hues were incredible and well worth the early morning.  Sitting on the hundreds of year old stone watching the sky come alglow at Signal Hill at sunrise was just breathtaking.  newfoundland-28newfoundland-21

We headed down the back side of the trail as the humidity rose for the day.  It was making for a perfect summer day in St. John’s.  On our walk through the Battery we enjoyed the unique colourful houses with there owners still fast asleep.
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Exploring Signal Hill National Historic Site

Signal Hill National Historic Site- St. John’s most popular landmark – offers an insight into the towns historic past, communication triumphs, as well as offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and an incredible coastal hike.  This National Historic Site of Canada was not only the location of the city’s harbour defense from the mid-seventeenth century up until the Second World War, it is also where Guglielmo Marconi received the world’s first transatlantic wireless signal in 1901.

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Signal Hill National Historic Site can be seen from downtown St. John’s and getting to this landmark is not difficult.  A 20 minute walk or quick drive east along any of the main roads will get you to Signal Hill Road. Once here, it is a quick climb up to the top of the hill.

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As I climbed the hill, I looked behind me and the view of the city just kept getting better and better.  It is a bit of a windy climb but well worth the view once you reach the top and see the iconic Cabot Tower.  The Cabot Tower was built to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland and simultaneously marks the 60th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s reign.

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For the July afternoon it was quite cold and I had to put my jacket and hat on to keep warm from the wind coming in off the ocean.  I headed inside the tower to warm up and see the exhibit on Guglielmo Marconi and the wireless station that was operated there.  Make sure you take the opportunity to wander around the outside of the tower once you are done with the exhibit, and take a walk down to the Queen’s Battery and the barracks down there.

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The Queen’s Barracks were built in the 1830’s to help add additional fortifications to the hill during the American Civil War.  You will still find the guns pointed out towards the ocean where they have stood for almost 200 years now.

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As I looked out over the coast line watching the waves slam into the weathered rocks, I saw a trail that headed down closer to the ocean that seemed to wind down the hill. After asking a local about the conditions of the trail and was assured it was perfectly safe I headed off down the North Head trail, which turned out to be Signal Hill’s most popular hiking trail.

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The trail heads down a series of stairs that begins to take you on your descent down the hill and flip flops between gravel paths and series of stairs.  There were a few times that I couldn’t help but stop to stare out at the ocean and take in the beauty that was around me.  Being from Ontario, the scenery here was like nothing I had ever seen before.  As I was mesmerized with the beauty of the view from the hiking trail, a group of humpback whales began to surface for air.  It was one of those moments in life you couldn’t help but feel blessed to be in a place as special as this.

 

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The trail twists and turns down the side of Signal Hill and will bring you to the edge of where the hill meets the Narrows.  This view allows you to see Fort Amherst which is located directly across from Signal Hill with the Narrows in between.

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As you get closer to St. John’s you come to an area that has a chain attached into the rock face as the trail narrows here and on a windy day can cause you to lose your footing. For safety reasons, it is always recommended to take advantage of the chain.

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Once you are past the chain you are almost at the end of the trail. You next come upon The Battery, a small neighbourhood located on the slopes of Signal Hill National Historic Site.  These vibrant and colourful houses really standout against the steep cliffs of Signal Hill National Historic Site.

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The Battery is home to Chain Rock, a land outcropping to which a large chain and anti-submarine boom were attached connecting over to Fort Amherst to prevent the entry of German U-boats during the Second World War.  Chain Rock is one of two rocks located on either side of the Narrows with a distance of 174 metres betwen.  Between these rocks a defense chain would be strung between them to prevent the entry of any enemy ships – This chain was upgraded to a net for the Second World War.

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Walking through the Battery with the history of each out the houses was a great experience.  Each house has a different colour, which makes them really stand out and that much more interesting.  The street begins to climb a hill again to take you back up to the main streets.

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Along the walk back up to the main streets a lot of the walls are lined with murals that outline their heritage and history.  The hike from the top of Signal Hill National Historic Site back to the main streets beyond The Battery took about an hour.  This hike was incredible and I decided to do it again on another morning to capture Signal Hill in a completely different light.  Click here to see photos from the sunrise hike up Signal Hill.

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