Gros Morne National Park: Trails? Finest kind.
Are there trails in Gros Morne? Finest kind, to use a Newfoundland colloquialism.
There are four sections of the Park: Gros Morne North, Gros Morne Central, Gros Morne Southeast and Gros Morne South. Discover interesting, beautiful trails in all four.
A previous posting told the evolving story of our relationship with the Green Gardens Trail. This post will describe two more favourites.
This trail is do-able for a group of hikers of diverse abilities, including the occasional elderly or small child hikers. We have often found trails rated “easy” to be, well, boring. However, this trail takes you along cobbled ocean beaches, alongside a fishing river, past dense tuckamore trees, into forests for a bit, then ends at Green Point where there is an excellent interpretive display about the importance of those astonishing cliffs. To add interest, there is an intriguing little collection of homes on the beach at Green Point with a wharf and a couple of boats. Much of the trail exists because it was previously used as a mail trail to this little collection of fisher homes.
The first time I hiked the trail (many years ago) Carl told me about these trees that were several hundred years old. They rivaled the redwoods, he said. For the life of me I could not see them. About halfway through the hike I demanded, “Where are these old trees you promised?” “You are standing on one,” he said, “they are called ‘tuckamores.’” I looked down to see my feet encroached on the lower branch of a hobbit tree. I had expected to see giant pines of some kind. Living next to the ocean, punched and ripped by the winter winds, these little gnarly pines grow slowly. To our delight, a little further along the cobbled path there were tuckamore trees that had grown together to create a series of caves. Our boys loved to go in under them when they were young. They didn’t go too far because it gets pretty dark in there.
Another bonus of this particular hike is that, although it can get windy, on a really hot day there is no more refreshing place to be.Gros Morne Mountain
As you might expect, the 16 kilometres hike up and down Gros Morne mountain is one of the signature hikes of the Park. It takes 6 to 8 hours and so some basic planning needs to be done. You will need lots of water, some food and really good shoes. You will need to wild-pee, so bring biodegradable tissues, if you need them. The cobbles were the most difficult part of the hike going up. The cobbles are about 3 to 5 inches in diameter and scatter and shift as you walk on them. If you have flimsy shoes, you are doomed to wreck them and possibly your ankles. Once you get past the cobbles, the hike is steady and steep but is strangely rewarding if you keep looking back to see how far you have come. When you reach the peak, the panoramic view is predictably stunning. What is not predictable is the cloud cover. Make sure you go on a clear day or you are just as likely to get up there and see nothing but fog. It is a great thing for the Park that this hike is so popular. The bad thing about this trail is the pressure that this number of hikers places on the ecosystem. It is the only hike in any Park that we have been on where you have to be very clear and careful about hiking etiquette. Slow? Get out of the way of the ones behind you. Fast? Let people know you are coming behind them and say “thank you” when they move aside. Passing is no easy feat on some points of the trail. Gros Morne mountain participates in geocaching, which also requires some etiquette. Going down the mountain is more difficult that going up. The constant descent takes a toll on knees and ankles, but it does go quickly. Finally, it is weird to have to say this, but, people, if you have to do number 2 on the trail, bury it – all of it. Since no dogs are allowed on the trail, it is the humans creating this problem of human waste and associated tissue.
There are three favourite points on this trail: the beginning, the peak and the end. The beginning is a point of optimism, excitement, hope and some trepidation. The peak is place of beauty, rest and appreciation of the ancient wildness of Newfoundland. The end of the trail is a place of tired gratitude and a sense of accomplishment.
List of Gros Morne Trails
Old Mail Road – 2 km return, forest sand dunes and a tiny fishing community
Steve’s trail – 1 km return, seaside meadow, view of Long Range mountains
Western Brook Pond – 6 km return, view of Western Brook gorge, coastal bogs, forests
Snug Harbour – 8 km return, harbour at mouth of gorge, rated black diamond difficult
Coastal Trail – 6 km return, beaches, tuckamore forests, ocean, birds
Berry Head Pond – 2 km loop, forest, pond
Bakers Brook Falls – 10km return, waterfalls, forests, bog
Berry Hill – 1.5 km return, views of coastal lowlands
Berry Hill Pond – 2km loop, wetlands, ponds, forest
Gros Morne Mountain – 16 km loop, highest point of the Park
Mattie Mitchell – 250 m loop, forest, stream
Southeast Brook Falls – 700 m return, waterfall, forests
Stuckless Pond – 9.5 km loop, forests, pond
Lomond River – 6 km return, river valley
Stanleyville – 4km return, old logging community, forests
Lookout – 5 km loop, 300 m climb, panoramic vistas of Bonne Bay, Gros Morne Mountain, Tablelands
Tablelands – 4 km return, serpentine barrens, walk on earth’s crust
Green Gardens – 9 km return, valleys, hills, coastline, cliffs, wetlands, meadows
Trout River Pond – 14 km return, deep valley which continues into Tablelands