The East Coast Trail is a series of 24 wilderness paths totaling 265 km along the Avalon Peninsula; ranked the world's top coastal destination in 2016 by National Geographic. Enjoy ocean splendors from the shore while traversing towering cliffs and headlands, sea stacks, coves, and deep fjords. Along the way, enjoy picturesque bay-side communities, abandoned settlements, ecological reserves, and a special lighthouse picnic. The package includes popular ECT day hikes such as Beaches Path, Deadman's Bay Path to Fort Amherst, and the most easterly point of North America along the Cape Spear Path. We also take you to more remote sections farther south such as beautiful Flamber Head Path and to the impressive sea arch at Berry Head. Take in the history and culture of small fishing towns, including picturesque Quidi Vidi, charming Petty Harbour and Renews; one of the very first harbours in North America to be frequented by Europeans. There is a real possibility of whale, puffins, moose, or iceberg sightings while on the trail; but encounters with genuine, story-telling local hosts are guaranteed!
Daily walks are between 10km and 20km on well marked trails over diverse terrain – from relatively flat to short, steep sections. Most of the walk is on trail with some boarded surfaces, exposed tree roots, and possibly mud and/or rocks to scramble over. You should pay particular attention to your footwear to ensure that it is suitable to avoid blisters and rolling ankles. Route finding will be reasonably straightforward (refer to information regarding self guided adventures) but days are long and weather conditions will be variable. The main areas to concentrate on route finding are arriving and leaving towns and cities, and along rocky shores. The accent is on keeping a steady pace to take in all of the views, with time to stop and take photos. You will need a good level of fitness to participate fully in this adventure.
Welcome to St. John's, Newfoundland! You will need to make your own way to your charming B&B (Details will be provided with your final documents). The rest of the day is free to enjoy this lively city - Your accommodation is just a short walk away from the Harbour, most restaurants, art galleries, craft and antique shops, George Street night life, live theatre (LSPU Hall), Signal Hill Rd, and The Rooms.
Today's hike isn't technically on the East Coast Trail, but that's really just a technicality. The route takes you along a lakeshore north of the city to picturesque Quidi Vidi ('Kiddy Viddy'), an old fishing village which is now considered part of St. John's and is home to the provinces largest microbrewery, as well as a trendy restaurant housed in one of the oldest wooden buildings in North America (lunch reservations required). QV is at the southern end of the ECT's Sugarloaf Path - We recommend a hike up to the top of Bowdens Highland and back for a fantastic view over the village and across to St. John's. The walk from Quidi Vidi to St. John's is a spectacular coastal route via historic Signal Hill and The Battery of St. John's Harbour which leads right back to your B&B.
This morning, you will be transferred by your driver guide to the southernmost end of the East Coast Trail (as of 2016) for a quick visit to the fishing villages and abandoned settlements of Renews-Cappahayden and then up to Ferryland; one of the most historic communities in Newfoundland where you can visit the Colony of Avalon Archaeology Site (and perform your own 'dig') or attend summer dinner theatre at the Arts Centre. Here, you will enjoy the very unique 'Lighthouse Picnic' experience as you are provided with a blanket to lay out where you like on the natural ocean-side terrace and then served a delicious lunch a-la picnic basket*. From Ferryland, take the trail south to Aquaforte, where your friendly guesthouse and home-cooked dinner awaits.
*Picnics operate from late May early October, subject to availability at time of booking
The section of the ECT called Spurwink Island Path is most well-known for its massive sea arch at Berry Head - The real highlight of the trail. Today, you have the option of hiking the full distance from your accommodation south to Port Kirwan, or of being dropped off at Port Kirwan to hike to the arch and back. Both options result in similar hiking distances, but the latter (out and back) route avoids the north section which is rugged slog mostly through woods and with few coastal views. Overnight Aquaforte.
After a hearty breakfast, you will be dropped off at La Manche Provincial Park, where you can explore an interesting former settlement and its iconic, relocated suspension bridge. Your walk today is south along the 'Flamber Head Path', one of the more remote and underrated sections of the ECT that takes you up and down wooded hills with lovely coastal viewpoints and high cliffs, including the dominant headlands of Cape Neddick and Flamber Head. Your hike ends at the lovely little harbour community of Brigus South, where you will be picked up and transferred back to Aquaforte for a much-deserved home-made meal.
Today's hike consists of two 'easy' sections of the ECT; from the community of Tors Cove up to Mobile, and onto Witless Bay. Starting from the iconic, brightly-painted saltbox houses called 'The Cribbies', the majority of the peaceful route is close to shoreline, with attractive beach-side and wooded paths and lovely shore and island views, including the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve noted for its migratory, seabird and puffin nesting habitat. From Witless Bay, you will be transferred to the very charming village of Petty Harbour where you will be hosted for the next 3 nights.
Day at leisure in Petty Harbour. No transfers or activities are included today, but may be organized locally at an extra cost. Apart from simply resting and enjoying the quaint harbour, today's options include more hiking (Mickeleens, Motion Path, etc.), kayaking (weather permitting/subject to availability), whale/puffin boat tours, exploring Petty Harbour's shops and museum, a harbour walk, or perhaps 'learn to row a boat'!
After breakfast, it's back on the trail. Today, your hike begins at the most easterly point of North America: Cape Spear. Perched on a rugged cliff lies Cape Spear Lighthouse – the oldest surviving lighthouse in the province and an iconic symbol of Newfoundland and Labrador's mariner history. Constructed in 1836, the Cape Spear Lighthouse consists of a stone light tower surrounded by the lightkeeper's residence. In 1955 a new lighthouse tower was built on the site using the active light from the original lighthouse. A morning arrival allows us to enjoy this popular attraction with few others... and few others are likely to be leaving the site by foot! The walk back to Petty Harbour is a beautiful outing with a variety of terrain, hills, long views, boardwalked bog crossings, and two river crossings. Pack your windbreaker and be mindful of your footing - The continent's edge is a windy one!
Once again, your feet will take you back to St. John's. This time, beginning from Blackhead, just north of Cape Spear and hiking north to Fort Amherst at the entrance of St. John's Harbour ('The Narrows'). This coastal path has some steep climbs, a long ridge hike, swimming holes on the Southside Hills, a former settlement, and a unique barachois (stone crossing) with rusty pieces of the SS Thetis shipwreck. At Fort Amherst, you will come up to a lighthouse and placard, indicating the end of your East Coast Trail adventure. Further exploration will reveal the remains of gun emplacements built during World War II to defend against German U-boats and signs of 17th century Fort Frederick (Frederick's Battery). Your friendly driver will take you back to your central accommodations for your final night in St. John's. If you haven't already, tonight may be the night to get 'Screeched In' on George Street and become an honorary Newfoundlander!
Services end after breakfast. We hope you enjoyed your stay on 'the Rock'!
We had a wonderful holiday thanks to the excellent people on the ground in Newfoundland! Our B&B hosts were warm & welcoming and the transfer drivers were full of local knowledge & stories. Thanks for organizing our trip with such a great team!
J. Burris, Grand Prairie, Alberta, 18 Oct 2017
G. Marcotte, Gibsons, BC, 10 Oct 2017
Per Person, Twin Share