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Exploring the Southern Side of Gros Morne National Park

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We recently returned from a 1-night get away that saw us sampling great food and accommodations as well as hiking on one of our favourite trails in the southern part of Gros Morne National Park. Since Gros Morne Park is so large, many people opt to see just the north side or the south side with Bonne Bay acting as a geographical dividing line. The key decision point is at the community of Wiltondale where highway 430 heads north and highway 431 heads along the south side of Bonne Bay to the communities of Glenburnie, Birchy Head, Shoal Cove, Woody Point and Trout River.

The Tablelands are a striking reddish brown colour due to the weathering of iron in the rock

This side of the park is also home to the Tablelands which is why the park has its coveted UNESCO World Heritage status. The reddish brown Tablelands record a time millions of years ago when 2 colliding continents pushed peridotite rock from deep down in the earth’s mantle to the surface! This exposure of peridotite in the Tablelands is one of the best in the world and is mostly barren since most plants have not adapted to the rock's unusual chemical composition.

The Red Mantle Lodge has a commanding view of the surrounding area

We stayed appropriately at the Red Mantle Lodge and were very impressed with the ever changing view of scenic Bonne Bay out of our bedroom window. This 18 room lodge and restaurant is a great addition to the upscale accommodation in the park and it offers a commanding view of the entire area. After checking in around 5:00 pm we decided to head for the award winning Seaside Restaurant which is well named since it is perched right over the beach and boardwalk in nearby Trout River. The Seaside Restaurant specializes in seafood and we enjoyed pan seared scallops as an appetizer, followed by grilled salmon with bakeapple cheesecake for dessert. From our window we could see fog rolling over the rocky cliffs only to retreat offshore a few minutes later. After supper we walked on the boardwalk past clotheslines of knitted socks for sale and fishing boats tied up at the wharf.

The view and the food from the Seaside Restaurant are superb

The next day was sunny and we decided to hike the Lookout Hills trail before it got too warm. This is one of our favourite trails in the park since it gives great views for relatively little effort. The trail is just 5 km return and although it climbs steadily uphill to the lookout platform, its short distance means that it is within the range of many walkers. The trailhead is easy to find since it is just off the back of the Discovery Centre Parking lot located just outside of Woody Point. Also be sure to stop into the Discovery Centre to learn about the geology of the Tablelands and many other aspects of the park (http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/nl/grosmorne/index.aspx).

The Lookout Hills trail is one of our favourites in the park.