Monday, 30 September 2013

Community hiking trails to try in Trout River- Gros Morne Nat'l Park



by Keith and Heather Nicol
    The next day (Sunday, September 29) the weather was again perfect for enjoying the out of doors so we decided to head to the nearby community of Trout River to check out their community hiking trails which we had never fully explored. We stopped at the Parks Canada Discovery Centre to get a map of the park and talk to the staff about some of the trails in the Trout River area. We headed first to the Hummock Trail which is located on the right just as you are entering the community. There is a large parking area with picnic tables and this trail climbs steeply for 200 meters to a lookout back to Trout River pond and toward the community of Trout River. 
Stop at the Discovery Centre near Woody Point to get information and see the displays
      From there we headed to the Eastern Point Trail (21 U 0418761 E and 5481830 N) which is located at the northeast side of the community. There is a small parking lot and you need to walk through someone’s yard to reach the trail which starts off very steeply up a series of steps. Once the top of the terrace is reached the trail levels off and then travels toward the headland. Hikers will get good views of the rugged shoreline as well as good views back to Trout River. This trail is about 1.2 km long and ends at cliff at 21 U 0418501 E and 5482760 N. 
Heather near the start of the Eastern Point Trail
 Next up was the Lighthouse-Old Man’s Trail which is on the western side of Trout River and you need to take the bridge to the trailhead at 21 U 0418042 E 5481221 N. Like the preceding trail, this one also climbs steeply up stairs to the top of the terrace but then is mostly flat to the light. This 800 meter trail also has very good vistas of Trout River and the fishing boats as well as of the rugged coastline. There is a 140 meter side trail to the Old Man which is a pinnacle shaped rock formed when sea levels were higher at the close of the last ice age. 
The colourful fishing buildings of Trout River make for great photos from the Lighthouse Trail

    For our picnic lunch we headed to the Parks Canada day use area at scenic Trout River Pond.  Before heading back to Corner Brook, we drove to one of our favourite lookouts in this area which provides an excellent view of Trout River Pond. The coordinates of the lookout are: 21 U 0418535 E and 5479155 N. There is still lots of good hiking left this fall so plan a trip to see the fall colours. 
The Trout River Pond viewpoint is one of our favourites

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Autumn in Woody Point - Gros Morne National Park


by Keith and Heather Nicol
     On Saturday, September 28 we headed for Woody Point to continue our quest to hike the trails that exist in some of the communities in Gros Morne National Park. In previous blogs we have discussed the community trails in Norris Point and Rocky Harbour and for this weekend we set our sites on some communities on the south side of the park. And the weather couldn’t have been better- sunny and warm. Darlene Thomas at the Seaside Suites was very helpful in telling us about some of the trails in Woody Point and we took her advice and picked up a copy of the local Woody Point map when we checked in. Our first trail started at the Parks Canada Discovery Centre and we opted for the beach route trail which took us back to Woody Point. This trail winds downhill through the forest and then follows the road for a short distance before heading along the shore to Water Street in Woody Point. Our GPS indicated that the distance from the Discovery Centre to the Seaside Suites was about 2 km. This trail also has a branch at cemetery road called the Church Marsh trail and it provides another route back to Woody Point. This 1.6 km trail ends at the ball field and then you can follow the community streets to your destination in town. 


The Beach Trail winds along scenic Bonne Bay

At the suggestion of Darlene we also did the short trail that starts at the scenic lighthouse in Woody Point and leads along the beach to Fisherman’s Road where there was lots of fishing action going on. Boats were unloading mackerel and fork lifts were roaring around moving fish crates from the loading zones to waiting trucks. This trail is about 700 meters (1 way) to the wharf. 
The Woody Point Lighthouse is very picturesque
     For supper we were lucky to get into the popular Loft Restaurant (http://www.theoldloft.com/) since it was fully booked. We having been hearing great reports about this restaurant and we were not disappointed. We were joined by our friends from Corner Brook, Martin and Molly Ware and we all ordered various fish dishes. The fisherman’s platter seems to be one of their most requested dishes and the shrimp, scallops and cod were delicious. Other people in our group also enjoyed the fresh halibut, shrimp and surf and turf. If you are in Woody Point, be sure to check out the Loft next year since they are now closed for the season. 

The Loft serves up delicious home cooked meals  
      After supper we headed back to our luxurious accommodations. We stayed in one of the very spacious Wharfside Suites which come fully equipped with a deluxe kitchenette,  a large soaker tub and walk in shower, fireplace, and deck overlooking Bonne Bay.  See www.seasidesuites.ca for more information.  Autumn in Woody Point has much to recommend it and the Discovery Centre will be open until mid October.
The luxurious Wharfside Suites are brand new this year!








Monday, 23 September 2013

Exploring the community trails in Rocky Harbour in Gros Morne National Park



by Keith and Heather Nicol
     On Friday, September 20 we awoke to sun and patchy clouds and it promised to be a good day to explore some more community trails. From Norris Point we drove to nearby Rocky Harbour to check out 3 trails that were new to us.  We stopped first at the 500 meters long Salmon Point Lookout trail which is at the far southern end of Rocky Harbour. We parked next to the cemetery (21 U 0432236 E and 5493025 N) and walked uphill along a well marked path. We then crested the hill and walked to a nicely built lookout platform with a bench which had great views of the prominent Lookout Hills on the opposite side of Bonne Bay. 

Heather hiking toward Salmon Point
From here we drove back into Rocky Harbour and walked the Bottom Brook Trail which as the name suggests follows Bottom Brook. The UTM coordinates for the trail head are: 21 U 0433639 E 5493338 N.   This 1 km trail winds past cottages and homes but you get a feeling that you are in a natural area even though it is in the middle of Rocky Harbour. The trail was abit wet on the day we did it but could we easily avoid the muddy spots. The trail ends at the Fisherman’s Landing Inn. The highlight of the trail was an unexpected small waterfall which has viewing platform and rest area associated with it.
Following the Bottom Brook Trail
The last community trail that we explored was the Rocky Hills Lookout trail and it is located on the other side of Rocky Harbour enroute to Lobster Cove Lighthouse. There is a parking area at 21 U 0432366 E and 5494632 N and this 350 meter trail is a must do. We were taken with the large lookout platform at the top which gave superb views of Rocky Harbour. The trail is well marked and it would be an ideal place for lunch on a fine day since there are several picnic tables at the top.
The Rocky Hills Lookout trail provides good vistas of Rocky Harbour
It was now time for something to eat so we headed to the Treasure Box (http://www.grosmorne.com/treasurebox/) at 72 Main Street in Rocky Harbour. There we chatted to owner Joyce Payne and Boyd Laing and Joyce told us we must have the fish cakes. “We have sold close to 4300 fish cakes so far this year and we hope to hit 5000 before the season ends”.  The fish cakes came with light fluffy toutons and baked beans and we can certainly see why this meal is their most popular. They also have a well stocked craft shop in the store and you won’t meet friendlier people than Joyce and Boyd. 
The Treasure Box serves up delicious fish cakes with toutons and beans


Saturday, 21 September 2013

Exploring Norris Point in Gros Morne National Park



by Keith and Heather Nicol
     On many of our past hiking trips to Gros Morne our focus has been on the longer trails that the national park is well known for. We certainly enjoy hiking Gros Morne Mountain or the spectacular Green Garden trail but the communities in the park have developed some nice trails so that became the focus of our most recent trip. The advantage of these trails is that they are often short and in the communities where people may be staying so can be done  after supper or in the morning before heading off to another destination. We left Corner Brook around noon on Thursday, September 19 and drove to the Park’s Visitor Centre in Rocky Harbour. There we picked up a copy of Tuckamore (a free guide to the park) which lists all of the community trails and we also picked up a copy of the free park map which shows where the trails are located in each community. 


The Photographer's Lookout is well named and is the start of the James Humber Trail
We started in Norris Point at the Photographer’s Lookout where the James Humber Trail begins. The trail is well signposted and winds downhill through the forest to Wild Cove. The trail head coordinates are 21 U 0436104 E and 5487594 N for those hikers with a GPS. The 1.4 km (1 way) trail is a mix of gravel and board walk and be sure to take a sharp left turn near the bottom to reach the Edward and Jessie Major Memorial Park which makes a good rest point. You can then either hike back up to your car or have someone in your group drive to the Memorial Park to meet you. For anyone interested in a shorter walk you can walk for 300 meters from the Lookout parking lot to a viewing platform which gives good views of Bonne Bay, Norris Point and the Tablelands.
You get great views of Bonne Bay and the Norris Point waterfront from the Burnt Hill Trail
 Next we set our sights for the Norris Point waterfront and had a snack by the ocean at the kiosk at the end of the road. We then drove past the Cat Stop and parked behind Anchor Crafts to start the Burnt Hill Trail system (21 U 0436670 E 5485426 N). The start of the trail is well marked and climbs steadily uphill. Once on top there seem to be many choices but fortunately all the trails are short and you can’t get lost. There are several lookouts which give very good views of Neddies Harbour and back toward the Tablelands and Bonne Bay and we walked for 2 km on a various combination of trails. 
The view from deck of the Big Garden Cottages is superb
 We then checked into the comfortable Big Garden Cottages (http://www.biggardencottages.com/) and we were pleased that our cottage had an amazing view of Neddies Harbour with the Tablelands in the distance. The front deck was in the sun and we spent an enjoyable hour reading outside before getting ready for dinner at the nearby Sugar Hill Inn.
Check out Chanterelles for fine dining in Norris Point
 We had heard great reports about Chanterelles (the restaurant at the Sugar Hill Inn) and we were not disappointed. We started with tasty scallops and pecan/feta salad for appetizers and then we had delicious crusted cod and rack of lamb for our main courses. We finished with a scrumptious lemon tart for dessert. We also enjoyed chatting to owner Vince McCarthy about how the 4.5 star Sugar Hill Inn has expanded in size with the growing interest in upscale dining and accommodations in Gros Morne National Park. The Sugar Hill Inn (http://www.sugarhillinn.nf.ca/) is known not only for serving delicious food but also for its extensive wine list.



Wednesday, 11 September 2013

More to see and do in Southern Labrador



by Keith and Heather Nicol
     On Thursday, August 29 the weather improved greatly from the previous day and we awoke to bright sun and light winds. We first set our sights on the Point Amour Lighthouse and it was a splendid day to be along the coast. This lighthouse is the second tallest lighthouse in Canada and is 109 feet tall. You can climb the 132 steps to the top where we got a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area. While we were there the staff suggested doing the short 1 km trail to see the wreck of the HMS Raleigh which ran aground in dense fog on August 8, 1922. The trail winds along the coast and is easy to follow. 

Be sure to visit the Point Amour Lighthouse
  While in this area be sure to see the plaque marking the oldest known burial mound in North America which is along the road heading to the Point Amour Lighthouse. It appears that a young Maritime Archaic Indian boy was ceremonially buried at this site roughly 7500 years ago. Along the Labrador Coast Drive is the Labrador Straits Museum near the turnoff to the Point Amour Lighthouse and we spent an enjoyable hour chatting to Iris Earle who is the museum supervisor. This museum was started in 1979  and features a craft shop as well as artifacts which record various aspects of the way of life along this coast.
Iris Earle demonstrates how to use a hoop to carry water buckets at the Labrador Straits Museum
   From there we headed into adjacent Quebec where we had heard about a new tour being featured by Aqua Labadie. Clair and Philippe Labadie have been scallop farming for some time but last year decided to do scallop farm tours. Scallops happen to be one of our favourite seafoods so how could we resist! We opted to do their 2 hour tour which included a luxurious boat ride of scenic Salmon Bay as well as a demonstration of how the scallops are farmed. The tour ends with a sampling of raw and cooked scallops and a glass of wine. We found the whole tour very informative and it is a great way to spend an afternoon. They can be contacted at: aqualabadie@gmail.com .
The boat tour with Aqua Labadie was amazing
 Unfortunately we had to leave Labrador the next day so we spent a comfortable night at the Northern Light Inn (www.northernlightinn.com) in L’Anse au Clair which is just a few minutes from the ferry terminal.  On our next visit we want to try more of the hiking trails in this area since it seems like almost every community has a trail worth exploring. Also if you want someone else to plan your tour of this area then check out: http://www.tourlabrador.ca/home/ .
The Northern Light Inn in L'Anse au Clair is a comfortable place to stay