Five Great Fall Hikes in Newfoundland & Labrador
Every hiker has a favourite time of year to hit the trails, and in Newfoundland and Labrador the fall hike is a favourite of many.
The season delivers a sensual basket of natural treats: an earthy tone in the soft air, dappled sunlight in the thinning canopy of a deciduous woods, and along the coast a salt lick from breaking waves and seaborne mists. Bright reds, oranges and yellows reach from the tree top to the path underfoot. Birds hidden by summer greenery now become visible. Some of them are migratory, stopping off for a rest and a bellyful of berries before heading further south. It’s also berry picking season for those of us on the ground, with October being a particularly fine time to find partridgeberries.
Whatever the motivation, the fall is a great time of year to strap on a pair of hikers and hit the trails. To help get you started, we’ve put together a list of some of Newfoundland & Labrador’s best fall hikes.
East Coast Trail
The East Coast Trail network links together 32 historic communities, with 300km of world class hiking. From Portugal Cove to Cape St. Francis to St. John’s to Cappahayden, there is no shortage of awe-inspiring natural beauty. In the fall, hikers can enjoy berry picking along the trails as they pass by lighthouses, abandoned settlements, sea stacks, and deep fjords. In particular, October and November line the trails with delicious cranberries and partridgeberries, following the first frost of the season. For a short trek filled with berries, try the Blackhead Path, which is a 3.7 km trail leading to Cape Spear National Historic Site, the most easterly point in North America.
The Discovery Trail network on the Bonavista Peninsula is one of the best in the province, with a new coastal trail information system letting hikers know important trail information such as starting points, GPS coordinates, length, difficulty, duration, and what there is to see and do along the way. For fall hikers, the Skerwink Trail offers scenic views of Port Rexton and Trinity’s autumn colours. With sea stacks, eagles, and foxes, this 5.3 km loop trail has also been named by Travel and Leisure Magazine as one of the top 35 walks in North America and Europe and is not to be missed.
Terra Nova National Park
Newman Sound in Terra Nova National Park is a designated bird sanctuary, and for good reason. Throughout the year many types of birds feed on the rich supply of food in the estuary, and in the fall of the year you can watch their migration. The Coastal Trail, a 9.5km easy-moderate return hike, showcases the brilliant colours of fall mixed with coniferous greens, and also provides great viewing access to the sanctuary.
International Appalachian Trail
The Humber Valley is a great area to see fall foliage in the Western part of the island. Stands of birch trees and colourful maples dot the area and can be seen from a number of vantage points in the region. One of the areas focal points, the Humber Valley Trail, is a 5km moderate hiking trail that ascends to the top of the 'Old Man in the Mountain', offering breathtaking views of the Humber River. Further west of Humber Valley is the Bay of Islands area, where the Blow-Me-Down Mountains are covered in birch trees that turn a brilliant yellow in the fall of the year. The Cape Blow Me Down Hiking Trail is a 3.8km moderate-difficult hike, appropriate for more active hikers. For an easier stroll, there is also a short 500 meter hike from the parking lot.
Labrador Pioneer Footpath
The Labrador Pioneer Footpath follows traditional walking routes along the shores of the Labrador Strait and extends between the communities of L'Anse Au Clair and Pinware. The Footpath, which is located near the shore, allows fall hikers to take in crisp air and seaborne mists as well as possible migratory bird sightings. The Forteau to Point Amour Lighthouse section of the trail is a moderate 6km hike that leads to one of Labrador's top destinations, the Point Amour Lighthouse.
For more information on hiking in the province of Newfoundland & Labrador, visit our hiking and walking page here.