Go Here: Gros Morne National Park In Winter
By Explore Magazine
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Head into one of Atlantic Canada’s largest parks this winter and explore a snowy adventure wonderland.
Gros Morne National Park really comes alive in the dead of winter. If you’re looking for some inspiration for cold-weather adventure in Newfoundland & Labrador's signature wilderness, check out these trip ideas:
Skiing & Snowshoeing
Cross-country skiing is one of the big draws to the park during winter. There are more than 50 km of groomed trails, most well-tracked for classic skiing. Beginner trails near the visitor centre are mainly flat, with a few small hills. The Owl Trail is lit until 10:00 p.m. if you are interested in an amazing night ski through the trees.
Trails near the Trout River Pond are groomed for skate skiing and the nearly 15 km of pathways between Wigwam and Stuckless ponds are classic trails that wind through beautiful forested areas. Some trails are loops, while others are one-way (arrange a vehicle pickup at the end).
For untracked trails, Berry Hill to Baker’s Brook harbours nearly 15 km of trails in a system of three loops and a single one-way access path. Two warming shelters provide a comfortable place to rest and prepare to tackle the next trail.
To really leave civilization behind, set up a backcountry ski tour. These range from short day trips to multi-day epics involving ski huts and camping. There are routes designed for the relative newbie, or hard climbs and long downhills for advanced cross-country skiers. The terrain is difficult and even experienced winter backpackers should travel with a group. Novices should consider hiring a professional guide or travelling with experienced companions.
Most trails that are suitable for skiing are also excellent snowshoe paths. If venturing far from groomed trails, be aware of the terrain and the limitations of your gear.
The trails around Shallow Bay are flat and meander through forest and along sand dunes. Don’t be afraid to tackle the more difficult trails mentioned above — if your legs are up for it. Longer, backcountry adventures can be arranged through professional organizations or with a guide.
As beautiful as the area is, it is also heartless when it comes to mistakes. Don’t leave the trails unless you have a guide or are very experienced and familiar with the region. Leave your itinerary with a trusted friend and check in with park officials before you leave and when you return.
Gros Morne National Park has been popular with snowmobilers for more than 30 years. Snowmobiling is strictly managed within the park boundary, to ensure minimal impact. Always adhere to the regulations and operate your sled only in designated areas.
In addition to following the park guidelines, snowmobilers will need either a Resident Snowmobile Operator’s Permit, or a Public/Commercial Snowmobile Operator’s Permit, depending on where they live. You are, of course, expected to have appropriate safety gear and emergency supplies at all times which must include spare fuel, and map and/or a GPS.
If the snow hasn’t yet made an appearance, explore the trails on foot. Many have gravel or sand bases, but be prepared for muddy conditions. (In wet weather, plant life is especially fragile; remember to stay on the trails.) The Trout River Pond Trail offers some incredible views of the Narrows, or head up Lookout Trail to the summit of Partridgeberry Hill for the best scenic views in the park. The Berry Head Pond Trail has a boardwalk on the first section and is accessible even in wet weather.
Many of the hotels and other facilities are open year-round; however, for a real adventure, check out the cabins, cottages and chalets. The setting may be rustic, but the facilities are not — most are heated and have a full kitchen. Single travellers on a budget can take advantage of the hostel at Rocky Harbour.
Did You Know?
Gros Morne National Park is the second largest national park in Atlantic Canada and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name of the park comes from Newfoundland’s second-highest peak and translates roughly into “great somber,” reflecting the solitary visage of the mountain.