Travel Info & Hiking Recommendations for Newfoundland and Labrador
One of the best places to hike / backpack in Eastern Canada… Newfoundland is a large island in the gulf of St. Lawrence, marking the Eastern most part of Canada. The island covers about 43 thousand square miles (111k square km), so it’s comparable in size to Virginia or Ohio, however with about 5% of either of those US States’ population, Newfoundland has plenty of wilderness to explore. Wildlife on the island includes moose, caribou, black bear, snowshoe hare, fox, lynx, chipmunks and squirrels, along with a variety of sea birds, including the Atlantic Puffin. There are no snakes or poisonous insects in Newfoundland. In the spring and summer, the island has plenty of wildflowers and orchids, while in the summer and fall a variety of berries (blueberries, partridgeberries, blackberries, crowberries as well as the famous bakeapples – also called cloudberries) can be found.
The Appalachians / Long Range Mountains extend through the west coast of Newfoundland, which makes that region the best place on the island for up-hill hiking in Newfoundland. Newfoundland’s Long Range Mountains average nearly 2,200 feet (670m) in elevation, with several dozen individual mountains ranging along the western half of the island. The island’s tallest mountain is the Cabox which stands 2,671 ft (814m) tall, and is followed by the more popular Gros Morne mountain which is 2,648 feet (807m) high. There are a couple dozen other mountains on Newfoundland’s West coast in the 2,300 – 2,600 feet (700-800m) range.
Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located on the West coast of the island and contains a diverse environment, consisting of boreal forests, fjord valleys, marshes, green meadows as well as tablelands which provide a rare glimpse of exposed earth mantle. The International Appalachian Trail’s most northerly point in North America extends over 390 miles (600 kms) through Newfoundland’s West side.
In terms of warm weather, the best time to hike in Newfoundland, is late July and early August, as this is the warmest time of year with daily average temperatures ranging from a low of 50f (10c) to a high of 73f (23c). Historically, there is less a chance of rain in the month of June. Consistent with insects in other areas of the world, mosquitoes and blackflies in Newfoundland like humid ‘still’ days. Typically they appear in May, are most common in June and July, and may be the least annoying near the end of August or in September. From our personal experience on the last week of July 2013, we had no problems on clear, sunny days with a breeze, however the blackflies left us bloody on one hike we did on a drizzly and foggy day in a heavily wooded forest.
Up-hill hiking in Newfoundland… There are 20 day-hiking trails in Gros Morne National Park. A park pass is required to hike in the Park, which can be purchased at the Visitor Centre and Discovery Centre, both located inside the park. Recommended / featured trails for up-hill hiking in the Park include:
There are also a couple of multi-day backpacking routes in Gros Morne National Park. The North Rim Traverse is 17 miles (27km) long and can take 2-3 days one-way, and the Long Range Traverse is 22 miles (35 km) long with a 2,500 feet (750m) change in elevation, which can take 3-5 days one-way. Gros Morne Mountain can be hiked or bypassed at the end of the Long Range Traverse. You can also backpack these routes back-to-back as they are connected. As the trails are not marked, backpackers must have basic orienteering skills and successfully complete a Park Ranger led orientation session, in order to undertake these hikes. Reservations are required and Campsite fees apply.
For more information about hiking, backpacking (backcountry) and other activities in Gros Morne National Park of Canada, visit their website, which provides brief descriptions (Distance, Time, Terrain/Elevation) of trails along with campground info. http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/nl/grosmorne/index.aspx
Outside of the National Park, uphill hiking can be found in the Lewis Hills, which includes Newfoundland’s tallest mountain the Cabox, as well as other parts of the International Appalachian Trail (IAT).
For more information visit http://www.iatnl.com/
While there is little/no up-hill hiking involved, the East Coast Trail, containing 165 miles (265km) of developed plus 171 miles (275km) of undeveloped trails along, you guessed it, the East coast of Newfoundland, will be of interest to backpackers and segment hikers. More information can be found at http://www.eastcoasttrail.ca/trail/
Other things (besides up-hill day hikes) to do in Newfoundland:
- On the West side of the island the Western Brook Pond trail and Boat Tour is a “must do” to experience Newfoundland’s inland fjords. While travelling up the West coast, you can also stop at Flowers Cove to see the Thrombolites, the world’s oldest living fossils. Venturing further north on the West coast, L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site is worth a visit. There you’ll learn that Norse Vikings lived here 500 years before Columbus ventured to the New World. There are various places on the Northern tip of the West side of Newfoundland, where you can also view icebergs and whales. Good views can be found at a number of locations from Ship Cove to St. Anthony.
- The East side of the island is where you’ll find Newfoundland’s capital city St. Johns, with George street’s two blocks of bars, pubs and restaurants – Apparently this area has the most pubs and bars per capita of any street in North America. This is the place for live music, which can be found in many of St. John’s bars and clubs. Further south along the coastline, the odd and beautiful Atlantic Puffin sea birds, can be seen at Witless Bay. If history is your thing, then a visit to the Castle Hill stone fort, a National Historic Site of Canada, may be worth a visit.
- In the summer months, there are multiple music festivals all across Newfoundland.
General information about Newfoundland, including what to do, where to stay etc… can be found at http://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com/ Note that local tour guides can be found in the “plan your trip” section.
Newfoundland Parks and Nature reserves, including campsites and other information can be found at http://www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/parks/parks/find.html
Labrador is the easternmost part of mainland Canada, bordering on Québec. The extremely remote Torngat Mountain range can be found on the northernmost tip of Labrador. The Torngat’s Mount Caubvik, at 5,417 feet (1,651 m), is the highest point in Canada, east of the Rocky Mountains. It should be noted that Mount Caubvik is actually the same peak as Québec’s Mont D’Iberville, as it towers in between (on the border of) the two provinces. Each province gave the mountain peak it’s own name – Québec, naming it after the French officer who burned Newfoundland’s major towns to the ground during King Williams War in 1696, while Newfoundlanders name is in honour of one of the five native Inuit who accompanied local traders back to England in 1772.
If you’re serious about hiking in Québec/Labrador’s remote/rugged Torngat mountains, feel free to use the links below to get more information.
Parks Canada also provides info on 4 multi-day hiking routes in the area:
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