World's Best Hikes: 15 Classic Trails

9 Jun 2011

National Geographic - View Source Article
Photograph by Jerry Kobalenko, Getty Images
By Peter Potterfield

Long Range Traverse, Newfoundland, Canada
Western Brook Pond to Gros Morne Mountain

Round-Trip: 23 miles, 3 to 5 days

When to Go: Relatively low elevation means this route opens in June and can be hiked until late September. But come prepared: The Long Range Mountains are on the Gulf of St. Lawrence and take the brunt of some of the worst weather in the world. Go with a guide service if you’re not an expert navigator.

This off-trail traverse takes you from inland fjords lined with 2,000-foot-high granite cliffs draped with wispy waterfalls deep into Gros Morne National Park. The rugged seaside plateau is just one reason Newfoundland is the new mecca for adventure. The landscape here is as dramatic as it is remote: It was carved by glaciers from massive, uplifted blocks of granite that form the expansive plateau, a wild place still loaded with moose and caribou. Good skills with map, compass, and GPS are required here, as no marked or maintained trails penetrate this unique wilderness. So wild is this trek that the park wardens won’t give you a permit unless you carry a locator beacon (they call it a caribou collar). This ensures they won’t have to search the whole park if you fail to emerge on time.

Insider Tip: The impenetrable alpine krummholz vegetation (called tuckamore on Newfoundland) in Gros Morne is so dense it seriously complicates navigation. One useful technique is to follow “caribou leads,” trails carved through the tuck over centuries by moose and caribou. Then take a GPS waypoint and adjust your vector as required when you pop out the other side.