Mountain Hike Vacation in Newfoundland
Gros Morne Mountain (AKA James Callaghan) Trail
The Mountain Hiker Rating: 8 out of 10
- Contributor: MGF
- Time required: 6 – 8 hours
- Degree of Difficulty: 8 out of 10
- Height: 2,625 feet (800 meters)
- Distance: Approximately 10 miles (16km) round trip
- Guide Required: NO – The trail is well marked.
While this is the busiest trail in Gros Morne National Park, it is also the icon for the region, and hence is a “must do”. We spent about 7 hours on this hike, including time to have lunch and just chill for a bit on a grassy edge just off the top of the mountain, staying out of the wind. Our hike started from the parking lot with a natural trail disappearing into the forest. For the first 2.5 miles (3-4 km) the trail takes a meandering gradual incline with about 1000 feet (350m) of vertical change. We found this to be a nice hike on a mostly natural path, along with a few man-made steps and bridges. That said, the reputation of this hike, and the anticipation of the steeper section of the trail was always on our minds.
After the wooded section, the trail opens up into a green meadow with the top of Gros Morne mountain looming ominously in the background. Once the meadow and a small stream (with a bridge) is crossed, it’s all up hill from there…
The next km or so is basically a 1,300 foot (400m) vertical climb up a massive loose rock pile. There’s no trail per-say, nor is one required, so we just stayed in the middle of the ravine known as “the gully” until we made it to the top. We’ve never experienced anything as dramatic as this before… Stepping from rock to rock, hoping that they don’t slide out from under us (which they didn’t)! Fortunately, we had the cardio and endurance to make it up the gully without stopping too often to catch our breath. The hike is a lot more fun this way.
Once we made it to the top, we suddenly realized that there’s a big top to this mountain, and it’s also covered in more loose rock. We walked to various points along the top, in order to get a 360 degree view of the surrounding valleys and lakes. The scenery was breathtaking. The view of Ten Mile Pond and Eastern Arm Pond, with the surrounding mountainous landscape makes this a unique hike. This is what Gros Morne National Park is all about!
FYI… Even during the warmest part of the year, it’s cool up there, and it can be foggy as well. Lucky for us, it was clear and sunny the day we were there. We encountered about a dozen or more people on this hike, more than the 3 other hikes we did in the Park combined, mostly in the ravine and on top of the mountain, where they were catching their breath.
The way down the mountain takes a different path. We didn’t enjoy the slow 5.5 miles (8-9 km) gradual loop around / down the mountain, as much as the straight line up the ravine, although it did provide us with gorgeous views of the Ferry Gulch valley, and we also saw a moose not too far away, which made up for this long narrow trail. Eventually the trail connects back up with the meadow and forest trail that we had taken on the way up.
In summary, the Gros Morne Mountain Trail hike was a unique experience with a mix of forest, meadow and rock, culminating with absolutely sensational views of the Park. I also found the steep rocky ravine up-hill hike a rush!
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