With so much wilderness from one side of the island to the other it’s no wonder Newfoundland has an array of stellar hiking trails. Not only do the two national parks offer several trails to choose from, markers for trails also pop up in random places along the highways and a number of the towns we passed through boasted local trails to explore. We only took a few hikes and some short walks over our ten days there but each was wonderful in its own way.
J.T. Cheeseman Provincial Park
On our first night in Newfoundland, at seven in the evening and just as dusk was falling, we found a sign that said Smokey Cape Walking/Fitness Trail leading into the woods near our site. Minutes later we were following the winding path through an otherworldly place, up over granite and through shrubs and waist-high evergreens. It was misty and everything was wrapped in silence but we could still hear the sea, somewhere near, and there were pools of water cupped by the greenery we passed through. It was moody and a bit sombre and, oddly, made something inside me swell into near joy. So this was Newfoundland!
It was getting dark and we had no idea how long of a trail it still was so, after about half and hour, we left it and went back to camp. But we came back and walked it again, to the end and back, the next morning.
Barachois Pond Provincial Park
A ten kilometre trail along boardwalks and then suddenly up what felt like hundreds of stairs took us 340 meters up to a lookout on top of Erin mountain and a view of St. George’s Bay and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It was a hell of a climb but it was worth it. They usually always are.
Gros Morne National Park – Lomond
Here, a winding trail led us through mixed forest down to a secluded cove on the ocean. We hiked it on a very windy day and I was worrying we’d get hit by a flying branch – there certainly were enough trees all around us that were obviously felled by the wind. Lucky for us, we emerged unscathed and happy.
Terra Nova National Park – Malady Head Trail
We arrived at Terra Nova in the rain and when the rain stopped it was so cold we had to put on toques and gloves before going to explore a short section of the Coastal Trail. But we woke to sun the next morning and headed into the woods for a hike to a lookout point over Alexander Bay, Wings Pond, and Southwest Arm (yes, I got this from the brochure). Only we didn’t really take this hike because of the lookout; we were drawn by the promise of “mature black spruce and a thick moss carpet underneath them”.
And it was a magical place. Truly. Sunlight filtered through the branches and turned the moss a glowing gold-green. It was, quite possibly, the most beautiful forest trail we’ve ever been on.
Roland and I both agree that if someone asked us to choose only one iconic hike for Newfoundland, this might be it. Even though, clearly, we’re not alone in that opinion. The trail was much too crowded when we were there, on a sunny Saturday mid-morning, and there wasn’t a section of it where we didn’t run into other people.
The views were spectacular and reminded me of parts of the Oregon coast, but I really would have preferred a more solitary experience. As, I’m sure, would most of the people there with us.
For some more detail of the hikes and other Newfoundland adventures, see Roland post: