In June 2017, my dad and I did a road trip through Eastern Canada, with Newfoundland being our final (and favourite) destination. During our ten days on the island, we hiked nine out of those ten days, with some days hiking more than once. We would have had a perfect ten out of ten score, if not for one full day of driving (apparently teleportation is still not a thing!) Out of all the trails hiked, these are five of my most favourite, off the beaten path hikes in Newfoundland.
Starting from the west and moving east, let’s get started.
1. The Gravels, Port au Port
Length: 3.5km one way
Difficulty: Easy to moderate, mostly flat, some wooden steps and boardwalk along the way
Views: Stoney beaches, strangest rock formations, tree-lined trail
This was our first hike of the trip, just a couple hours after disembarking from our overnight ferry in Port aux Basques. With Gros Morne National Park as our first destination in mind, (weather permitting), we headed North and stopped in Port au Port along the way. Spotting ‘The Gravels’ was a total surprise and an unintentional hike (as were many on this trip). Our hikes typically began after saying something along the lines of, “Oh that looks cool, let’s go explore!”
You could say we are very prone to ‘hikeccidents’, if you will. (Get it?) That is exactly what happened here- your classic case of an accidental hike. This is Lost & Local, after all. Despite the frigid June cold, (yes it can still be freezing in June in NL), we were greeted by the most unexpectedly blue water and the coolest rock formations (which made for great climbing fun).
2. Eastern Point Trail, Trout River
Length: Unknown, short/informal walk
Difficulty: Easy and flat once you conquer the set of steps at the beginning, trail not maintained, some pieces of boardwalk (although slightly unstable)
Views: sheep friends, rocky shores and cliffs, homes of the fishing village lining the coast
Again, an unintentional hike (#hikeccident) which began by spotting an old wooden sign for ‘Eastern Point Trail’. We followed the sign, which lead us to some wooden steps built into the grassy green slope, sat between two homes. A little strange starting a hike in between two people’s houses (“Is this trespassing?!”) That’s a pretty good indication that you are well off the beaten path.
Quiet, untouched, unmaintained, rugged. The entire walk closely follows the edge of the cliff, making for some gorgeous scenery and photographs.
3. Tablelands, Gros Morne
Length: Boardwalk: 4km roundtrip, Peak: 11km roundtrip
Difficulty: Boardwalk: Easy, Peak: Difficult
Views: Alien landscape, feeling like you’re walking on Mars, red rock, red rock, red rock (yes, that was an attempt at making a reference to The Shining)
The Tablelands- one of the few places in the world where the earth’s mantle is exposed. It’s a pretty well known hike in Newfoundland, so what makes it deserving of being on this list? Well, most people just stick to the boardwalk. I have a feeling some people don’t even know you can hike to the top. Perhaps it was due to the gloomy weather, but we were the only ones going off the trail (yes, it is allowed).
It is encouraged that you go with a guide to the peak, since it’s not a marked or maintained trail. We didn’t make it to the main peak, and chose to hike one of the side ridges instead (partly due to my poor choice in footwear that morning). And my oh my, what a rewarding view!
4. Sleepy Cove, Twillingate
Length: 3km roundtrip from Long Point Lighthouse/Car park
Difficulty: Moderate, steep and slippery rock in some parts
Views: Ice bergs, baby bergs (aka bergy bits), old mining equipment
I call this the reverse hike: downhill on the way there, uphill on the way back. Personally, I think the icebergs made this hike. If it weren’t for them, the scenery would have been quite similar to the other hikes in Newfoundland. With that being said, this is an excellent iceberg watching spot during iceberg season.
5. La Manche, Avalon Peninsula
Length: 2 km from La Manche Provincial Park Entrance to the suspension bridge, a wee bit further to Doctor’s Cove
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate, slippery gravel path leading into the trail, relatively flat afterwards, sections of well-kept stairs
Views: Suspension bridge, Doctor’s Cove- a rocky inlet with perfect sized rocks to use as makeshift picnic tables and chairs, swimming holes
This trail is actually a section of the East Coast Trail- a well known hiking trail over 300 kilometres long that stretches down the coast of Newfoundland. So technically, I have hiked the East Coast Trail. Well….a piece of it. It’s easy to see why the East Coast Trail is so popular and widely recognised!
Among all the hikes we did, these five definitely stick out in my memory. They each had their own unique elements, from coming across roaming wild sheep, to sitting back and watching the flow of the bergy bits. They are all well worth it if you are searching for off the beaten path hikes in Newfoundland.
Some honourable mentions, include: the trail from Signal Hill to Quidi Vidi and Skerwink trail. Two very special hikes that deserve their own post (maybe one day!) However, for this post, I wanted to stick with lesser known hikes.
P.S. A big thank you to my Dad, as my camera broke a couple days into this trip. So, all credit of these photographs goes towards him!
If Newfoundland wasn’t on your list before, I hope it is now!
Until next post,