Tag Archives: Gros Morne

Hiking in Gros Morne

Hiking in Gros Morne National Park was the highlight of our vacation in Newfoundland. We spent 5 days exploring the unique geology of the area, climbing to amazing viewpoints, and stumbling upon wild animals. Here are our favourite trails.

Green Gardens
Green Gardens Leap
Green Gardens was the most diverse and stunning hike we did in Gros Mourne. You start by hiking though the barren, red rocks of the Tablelands, descend through a small forest, and emerge at a spectacular cliff along the coast. There’s a staircase that will take you down to the water where you can take a dip in the ocean, explore ocean caves, and walk to a small waterfall.

If you’re looking for a longer hike, you can continue along the coast and complete a large loop of the area, but this involves fording two rivers and doubles the distance and time for the hike. There are 3 back country camping areas along the coast that looked comfortable. We only did the short hike, but if I went back I’d camp overnight, spend more time in the area, and do the full loop.

Rocky Green Gardens Waypoint Ocean Staircase Smoochy Falls

Distance: 9 km round trip + another 2.5 km if you go to the waterfall
Elevation Gain: 431 m elevation (mostly on the return)
Total Time: 4 hours (2 hours of hiking and lots of time to explore and relax).
GPS Map with Elevation: Strava
Trail Description: Parks Canada

Red Chair Lookout
A quick, rapid ascent up a trail behind the Discovery Centre brings you to a spectacular lookout with 360° views of Gros Morne, including Bonne Bay and the Tablelands. At the top you can relax on the park’s signature big, red chairs and watch the clouds drift by. The Lookout Trail offers the best bang for your hiking buck, with some of the best views in the park and less than 2 hours of hiking.

Last Staircase Newfie Superhero Field of Pitcher Plants Boardwalk

Distance: 5.6 km round trip
Elevation Gain: 324 m elevation
Total Time: 2 hours (1.5 hours of hiking and 30 minutes of enjoying the view).
GPS Map with Elevation: Strava
Trail Description: TrailPeak.com

Gros Morne Mountain
Gros Morne Peak
The James Callaghan Trail takes you to the summit of Gros Morne Mountain, the highest point in the park at 806 meters above sea level. It’s one of the longest and most challenging hikes in the park, but also one of the most popular. It was the only hike we did where there was a steady stream of people in front of and behind us.

The first part of the hike is a steady climb through the trees until you reach the decision point at the bottom of an avalanche chute. A big warning sign tells you not to proceed if you can’t see the top of the mountain. From there, it’s a steep scramble over large rocks that rises 500 meters in less than 2 kilometers, along a one-way trail. The temperature drops steadily and the wind picks up. We were happy to have packed lots of layers. The hike back down the backside of the mountain is more gradual.

We delayed our hike by a day in the hopes of getting better weather. It was sunny when we left the parking lot, but before we reached the summit clouds had moved in. So we didn’t get any amazing views but we did see a moose on the way down.

Gros Morne Warning Gros Morne Staircase Moose! Misty Descent

Distance: 16.9 km round trip
Elevation Gain: 836 m elevation
Total Time: 7 hours (5 hours of hiking and 2 hours catching your breath, eating, and enjoying the view).

GPS Map with Elevation: Strava
Trail Description: Parks Canada

Tablelands & Wallace Brook Creek
Wallace Brook
The Tablelands dominates the the southern part of the park and is a fascinating area to explore, but it doesn’t offer much in terms of hiking. We took the guided walk that is offered by Parks Canada everyday at 10:00 AM. It was interesting to learn about the unique geology of the area – an ancient ocean floor pushed up by plate tectonics where few plants grow because of the poisonous soil. We also explored the area on our own by turning off the trail at Wallace Brook Creek and walking up to the waterfall.

Tablelands Tour Serpentinite Tableland Boardwalk Wallace Brook Falls

Distance: 5 km round trip on the trail + 1 km detour up Wallace Brook
Elevation Gain: < 100 m elevation
Total Time: 1 hour for the guided walk. 2 hours if you want to explore Wallace Brook Falls.
GPS Map of Guided Walk: Strava
GPS Map of Wallace Brook: Strava

Baker’s Brook Falls
Baker's Brook Falls
This was probably the least interesting hike we did, with long stretches of board walk over boggy terrain. Luckily the bugs weren’t too bad. We were hoping to see a moose, but we had no such luck. The waterfalls at the end were nice, but not worth the long walk.

Baker's Brook Boardwalk Moose

Distance: 10 km round trip
Elevation Gain: relatively flat
Total Time: 2.5 hours
Trail Description: TrailPeak.com

Eating Vegan in Newfoundland

Only Good Vegan Food in Western Newfoundland
Before leaving on our trip, Emily loaded up our suitcases with vegan staples – almond milk, chia seeds, trail mix, Lara bars, dehydrated camping meals, and vitamin B12 supplements. I made fun of her for worrying more about food in Newfoundland than she did when we travelled to Peru or Vietnam. Turns out she was right to worry. Vegetarian cuisine, never mind vegan, is almost non-existent in Western Newfoundland.

Vegetarian Chili?We survived by choosing accommodations with kitchens and cooking our own meals. We tried to eat out as much as we could, but only found vegan food twice. Java Jacks in Rocky Harbour had vegan cakes, pictured above, that were amazing. All the food was fresh and flavourful. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for our meal at the Lighkeepers Restaurant. They served us reheated frozen vegetables that were soggy and tasteless and a vegetarian chili that was mostly rice with 5 kidney beans, tomato sauce, and only a few vegetables.

We had a bit more luck shopping at grocery stores. The Foodlands in Deer Lake and St. Anthony are well stocked with basics. We bought vegetables, almond milk, granola, chickpeas, coconut milk, rice pasta, peanut butter, and bread. Inside Gros Morne Park there is only convenience stores, but you can still get some fresh vegetables, pasta, cereal, and canned beans.
Berry Hill Campground CookingRoasted Yams on the Fire

Vacation to Gros Morne, Newfoundland

Sunset Panorama
Emily and I are back from our great Newfie adventure. 9 days exploring the other side of Canada and dipping our toes in the Atlantic Ocean.

Parts of Newfoundland looked a lot like BC, with the ocean shoreline and deep mountain fjords, but the skyline felt bigger. The weather was also colder, the mountains smaller, there’s a lot less people, and hardly any vegan food. I think we made the most of our trip. We saw an iceberg and a moose, picked fresh dewberries, visited a viking settlement, hiked their biggest mountain, skinny dipped in the ocean, and listened to Newfie speak whenever we could. We spent most of our time in Gros Morne National Park but also drove up the top of the Great Northern Peninsula where there were icebergs and lots of whales.

Whale Rocking Iceberg
My biggest tip to someone looking to do a similar trip: bring binoculars!

Top Activities

  • Hiking the Green Gardens Trail in Gros Morne. We did this as a day hike, but I regret not doing an overnight hike. It was a gorgeous area.
  • Waiting for the sun to set from Cape Onion.
  • Seeing whales from the top of the Santana Trail in St. Anthony.
  • Skinny dipping in the Atlantic Ocean. It was cold but it felt good after hiking in the sun.
  • Watching an amusing play at the Woody Point Heritage Theatre – Sherlock Holmes and the Nazi of Bonne Bay.
  • The 360° view from the top of the Lookout Trail in Gros Morne.

Ready to Ascend Ocean Skinny Dipping Red Chair Lookout I'm a Viking

We also did two boat tours – one from St. Anthony and one in the Western Brook Pond. I wasn’t overly thrilled with either. Seeing an iceberg up close in St. Anthony was cool, but the whales were just as easily spotted from land as from the boat. The Western Brook Pond area is too similar to the BC coast to really get excited about.

Newfoundland Travel ExpensesCost
9 days in Newfoundland cost more than a week in Hawaii. Luckily I had a free Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Deer Lake, which saved us $950. Our rental car cost over $700 plus $115 in gas, but it was a necessary expense. We logged over 1200 km driving. There was a Japanese pair staying with us in Woody Point who were trying (with limited success) to explore Gros Morne car-free. They were very grateful when we took them site seeing for a day.
View from the Discovery Centre

Accommodation in Newfoundland wasn’t cheap, but it was offset by the 3 nights we spent camping in the park and our cheap food costs. We only stayed in places with kitchens so we could cook our own meals. We spent $210 on on activities, with the boat trips ($65 each) being the most expensive. Our 7-day pass for Gros Morne ($44) was the best value considering how much hiking we did. The theatre show was $23 and well worth it.

Full Set on Flickr
Newfoundland Panorama
Continue reading Vacation to Gros Morne, Newfoundland

I Won a Free Flight to Newfoundland!

I can’t believe it. I won a free round-trip flight to Deer Lake, Newfoundland. It almost sounds like a joke. Who gives out free flights to Newfoundland? My first reaction when I received the email was to assume it was a hoax. I almost marked it as spam, but then I remember I had entered Air Canada’s Around the World in 750 Stories Contest a few weeks ago and picked Deer Lake as the my preferred destination for a free flight anywhere in the world.

I never thought I would win and immediately regretted choosing Newfoundland, of all places, but I had my reasons. Air Canada gave away 750 free flights – 386 to Canada, 99 to Asia, 98 to Europe, 86 to the USA/Central America, 51 to South America, and 30 to Australia. I figured more people would choose exotic, overseas destinations. So, I played the odds and picked a Canadian city.

Newfoundland 2006 - 103.jpgI’m lucky to have seen more of Canada than most Canadians. I’ve travelled east to St. John’s, north to Churchill, west to Prince Rupert, and to visited every province except PEI. But there are still lots of beautiful places in Canada that I’ve yet to visit. I eventually settled on Newfoundland because I’ve never been to Gros Morne but I’ve heard great things about it, and flights from Vancouver to Deer Lake are as expensive as flying overseas.

Here is what I wrote for Air Canada’s contest:
Mount Gardner Double JumpI love to spend time in the outdoors. My wife and I have hiked and trekked in far away places like Peru and Vietnam, but there are large parts of Canada we’ve never explored. I’d love to spend a week hiking through Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland. There are so many beautiful places in Canada, and Gros Morne is at the top of my list for places to explore.

I can use my free flight almost anytime before December 15 (except around Easter), so we were thinking of going in the summer. Anyone have any recommendations of sights or hikes in the park?

Photo of Gros Morne by David Ooms.