Team Trailpeak in Newfoundland
This summer 2010, 5 Trailpeak editors ventured into Newfoundland to travel the trails and waterways for 10 days. The trip started August 9th. This article details the trails discovered by both teams. If you can do what we did in 10 days, you get the hero cookie, it was a lot of trail and sea kayaking to pack in. Newfoundland and Labrador offer 100's of adventures through unspoiled coastal terrain and you'll get a good idea about it all here!
Team 1 started in western Newfoundland in Gros Morne, adding to www.trailpeak.com as they went, and, team 2 started in St. John's with the East Coast Trail and sea kayaking just south of St. John's with Stan Cook Sea Kayaking.
On the 13th of August, both teams met up in Central Newfoundland to explore more shoreline trails and sea kayak routes. Central was a hit with Fogo Island, Twillingate hikes, and the Salvage/Terra Nova hub of trails.
This article is a daily summary (Part I) and one heck of an adventure sampler for Newfoundland. Hopefully we'll be back in 2011 to discover more!
Day 1 - Team East - Trails are Everywhere!
... in Newfoundland and this rings true in the St. John's area as well. Kurt and Gord intentionally left the first afternoon of the Newfoundland editor's trip to chance -- and what a good idea. Starting at Kaotic bike rentals with no fixed plan they found the Waterford path along the canal and waterfront, it's pleasant and ideal for those looking for a nature stroll in the city. But before long, it's straight up the road on the south shore towards Cape Spear as a local shouted out "you're in for a long one". Quickly gaining views of the city one can look back on St. John's and see the historic waterfront full of ships.
It's fairly steep uphill road without much shoulder, so the uneasy cyclist might prefer to drive to the trail-head we found. Cresting the hill and rolling down a bit Kurt spotted some parked cars at a trail-head on the left. The Freshwater Bay trail, a 2.6 km descent to the sea that intersects with the East Coast Trail - and it was right off the road. This appears to be a local favourite. Back in town, Gord and Kurt stay on the south shore and follow the road up the hill to the Fort Amherst lighthouse. With a view back to town, another view across the harbour entrance to Signal Hill, and a third view out to the open ocean. Sure enough after just a few minutes, 3 large whales start breaching as a large ship leaves port. On the way down, you can spot trail markers for the east coast trail. Opposite, views of Signal Hill and the roughly 5km of seaside hiking trails there are spectacular. For the mountain biker, St. John's will not disappoint, there are lots of local mountain bike trails; White Hills, Pippy Park and Kenmount (these are on Trailpeak), but bring your own mountain bike.
Day 1 - Team West - Gros Morne is waiting!
Brian arrived in Deer Lake to gusty winds, low clouds and heavy, cool humidity, wondering what this humidity will do to him the rest of the time (didn’t happen again thankfully). He was picked up by Trailpeak's resident Newfoundland editor – Ryan Young. It was on to Ryan’s summer base of operations at Woody Point in Bonne Bay. Ryan is a kayaking guide and operator of ‘guide 4 hire’. His family is based in Corner Brook. Brian's 6pm arrival means no trails today, just see the local sites.
Day 2 - Team East - Waterfalls and sea Caves
Sea Kayaking with Stan Cook; bald eagles, otters, sea caves, coves, waterfalls and lots of interesting shoreline, guides who tell tall tales, educate, and entertain. Legend has it that Stan Cook and family scoped out the best inlets within an hours drive of St. John's and judging by the satisfied customers (dozens), they've got a really unique kayak sampler for Newfoundland. The day paddling Cape Broyle just got bigger as it started with shoreline biology then bald eagles, otters, sea birds (that dive hundreds of feet), waterfalls, and lots of sea caves. And all of this in the calm protected waters off Cape Broyle. With names like Gallows Bay, Gentleman's Bay, and the devils nostrils sea cave, each stretch of the 4 hour route is jam packed with something new. Large double kayaks make it safe for anyone wanting to sample the coastline. Stan Cook and family are ready to show you the waters, marine biology, and local seafaring history.
Day 2 - Team West - Gros Morne is really big!
Weather is trying to clear so Ryan and Brian take a drive around the area. As they approach the Tablelands the clouds roll in again. Brian did get to see the bottom half. They drove over to Trout River to see what the Hummock Trail had to offer. This is a short trail with (probably) great views. However, the clouds persisted and views were limited. But it did introduce Brian to trails with stairs. More on that later. Next stop was Lomond River to meet up with the third part of the west team – Shannon Burt, our east coast editor from PEI. From there they all went into the back country somewhat to see a hidden, local gem that they call the Sinkhole. This is a great spot which unfortunately was clear-cut since Ryan was last there. Still the falls are worth checking out. They also backpacked in to Stanleyville to camp for the night. The weather cleared nicely and they spent a quiet, restful night on the beach. They were visited late that night and early the next morning by a nice, big bull moose. The encounter did end peacefully.
Day 3 - Team East - Avalon Peninsula and the East Coast Trail
Many Canadians have now heard about the East Coast Trail, but for anyone who hikes, you've just got to experience it. World class trail construction extends over 500 km along breathtaking shoreline from cliff side trails that travel up and down through lush forest to open windswept heath. Kurt was surprised by the physical challenge of it, the hiking trails follow a path that loops along the bays and coves and there are many. Day 3 was a chance to move up from St. John's to Elke Dietmar's Points East where a hiker friendly B&B awaited them. Before dinner Kurt hiked north on the ECT out on Pouch Cove to Cape St. Francis trail and was treated to spectacular views and a rainforest like experience. The biodiversity is surprising and rich. After a few hours, Kurt returned to meet the other guests and talk about the hike the next day. For those not familiar with the East Coast Trail, it consists of wilderness sections about 10-20 km long anchored by small towns. These towns have hiker friendly B&B's whose owners co-operate to offer a network of hand-offs as the hiker makes their way from north (Pouch Cove) to south. Gord in the meantime, knocks off some trails in the area; East Coast Trail Torbay Point Connector, Birch Hill near Pouch Cove, East Coast Trail Stiles Cove Connector.
Day 3 -- Team West -- Gros Morne Proper
Rugged, beautiful country. The western trio took in some of the short, tourist-type spots along the highway. Ryan is a wealth of local knowledge. He was born and raised in Cow Head and his family has been in the area for generations. Later, they were the guests of Ryan’s grand parents for supper that evening and were treated to Newfie style ‘surf and turf’ – cod, halibut cheeks and moose and it was excellent. Later they hiked the Lighthouse Trail at dusk and enjoyed a nice sunset as the weather continued to clear. They camped that night at Shallow Bay in Gros Morne.