Highlights along the Trans Canada TrailLearn More

What to Expect on the East Coast Trail


The rugged coast of the Avalon Peninsula exposes both hiker and trail to unpredictable weather and variable weather. As one of the world's best coastal hikes, the East Coast Trail covers a wide variety of terrain. Sweeping and epic coastal views are accompanied by trail surfaces that can be challenging, and require extra preparation. You’ll encounter everything from relatively flat coastal meadows to dense forest and rolling hills with short but steep sections. Mixed ascents and descents range up to 150 meters/490ft in elevation. Most of the hike is on well-marked trail with some boardwalk sections, exposed tree roots, gravel, and mud or rocks to tread around. Some sections of the East Coast Trail can get particularly slippery in wet weather, and there are several stream crossings. We strongly recommend using hiking poles for balance and support.

You'll find the description of the different paths of the East Coast Trail on our trail sections page. For appropriate gear suggestions, including layers, rain gear, and footwear, view our recommended packing list. Our convenient shuttle service and local accommodation ensures you’ll be able to travel light while being fully prepared for the adventure.

Contemplating the vast, unspoilt wilderness of Newfoundland |  <i>Caroline Mongrain</i> Some sections can be slippery, tread carefully on to tree roots |  <i>Caroline Mongrain</i> Climbing up the Sugarloaf path near St. John's, Newfoundland |  <i>Sherry Ott</i>


Warm and dry weather arrives later in Newfoundland than elsewhere in Canada, reserving outdoor adventure for the months of June (Spring) through September (Fall).

Spring to early summer (April through June) is the best time to view icebergs along the island’s east coast, widely known as Iceberg Alley. It’s also the best time to spot whales, often seen breaching the surface of the water and playing along the shores. Whales and sea birds migrate north from spring through to early fall. Fog is very common along the coastlines, and strong wind and persistent rain is not uncommon.

Summer (July and August) is ideal for outdoor activities across Newfoundland. There’s still potential to see icebergs, whales continue to migrate offshore, and the summer hums with music festivals and cultural events. While the temperature frequently reaches shorts and T-shirt weather, the northern winds and fresh ocean air tends to cool things down, especially in the evenings.

Fall (September and October) is a crisper version of the summer, with the bonus of rich colours from the changing foliage. Sweet, fresh blueberries, partridgeberries, blackberries and crowberries are in full bloom, along with bakeapples (also called cloudberries) a perennial local favourite. Fall days are shorter and there’s a noticeable drop in temperature.

Winter (November through March) comes with a generous amount of snow, ideal for local snowshoeing and skiing enthusiasts. Temperatures rarely rise above freezing and can drop to as low as -20°C (-4°f).


Hiking the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland offers a chance to encounter a rich array of wildlife, both on land and offshore. The trail traverses a variety of habitats, which support diverse species, including those that are native to the island and migratory visitors. 

There are no large predators or venomous insects on the Avalon Peninsular. Mosquitoes are most active in spring and early summer, but coastal trails benefit from stiff onshore breezes that assist in keeping them at bay. 

The largest mammal you may encounter is a moose, and while there’s no shortage of them in Newfoundland, they do tend to steer clear of human activity. Moose are the largest members of the deer family, and they can be found throughout the province, including areas around the East Coast Trail. Known for their impressive size, bulls can weigh over 1,000 pounds, and sport antlers that can span six feet across. 

Spotting a bull moose while hiking in Newfoundland |  <i>Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism</i>

Foxes and Coyotes
These canines are native to Newfoundland and are occasionally seen by hikers. They are generally elusive, but you might catch a glimpse of them in the more remote sections of the trail. 

The waters off the East Coast Trail are a prime spot for whale watching, especially between June and August.
Humpback Whales: Newfoundland is known for having the world’s largest population of humpback whales, migrating annually to feed on capelin, krill, and squid. They can often be seen displaying exuberant and playful behavior in the ocean along the East Coast Trail.
Minke Whales: These smaller baleen whales are frequently spotted off the coast during summer months. They are known for their sleek, streamlined bodies and are often curious around boats, making them a common sight on whale watching tours.
Fin Whales: The second-largest animal on the planet, fin whales are another species that migrate to the waters off Newfoundland. They are known for their distinctive colouration, with a light underside and a dark gray back, and might be spotted feeding in the area. The waters off Newfoundland are also visited by a variety of other whales and dolphins, including sperm whales, pilot whales, North Atlantic right whales, and white-sided dolphins. 

Spotting whales off the coast of Newfoundland |  <i>Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism</i>

Puffins: These colorful seabirds are a favorite among birdwatchers. Newfoundland is home to several puffin colonies, and while they are more commonly found on offshore islands, it's possible to see them from the coastal cliffs along the trail during the breeding season.
Other Seabirds: The trail provides opportunities to see gannets, petrels, guillemot, cormorant, shearwaters, and other seabirds, which are attracted to the rich marine ecosystems of the North Atlantic.

The Atlantic Puffin is the only puffin species to be found in the Atlantic Ocean |  <i>Valerie Deltour</i>



One of many Newfoundland's East Coast Trail draws is an opportunity to see migrating icebergs as you make your way along coastal stretches. Nobody knows exactly how big each season's icebergs will be, where they might show up or how close to the shoreline they will stray, but there is a handy user-generated Iceberg Tracker to give you some idea. While weather is a major factor, Newfoundland's iceberg season typically kicks off in April and lasts until early summer, peaking in May and June. Read more on our blog: Frozen Giants in Newfoundland.

A giant iceberg visits a tiny coastal community |  <i>Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism</i>


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