Hike on the Edge of the World

Taking in the view atop Western Brook Pond Fjord | Barrett & Mackay Photo
Taking in the view atop Western Brook Pond Fjord | Barrett & Mackay Photo

Canada is huge – the world’s second-largest country, in fact – so it still contains rarely visited, remote destinations that are ideal for the aspiring explorer, especially in the east.

Its mountains, forests, coastline and waterways are all oversized with promises of world-class views beyond the main trails, proving that big really is better.

On the eastern seaboard, on Newfoundland’s west coast, you’ll find the spectacle that is Gros Morne National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), with its green-carpeted mountains, vast fjords, towering cliffs abutting the sea, and empty beaches. We list three scenic hikes that take you to some of Canada's best wilderness experiences.

1. Long Range Traverse

For the more hardy and experienced walker, the Long Range Traverse beckons. This six-day guided hike entails following a barely discernible route in the Long Range Mountains that takes you high up on a plateau. The first day is a steep ascent but once up high it is relatively flat for the remainder of the journey, with the occasional river crossing. So with each day of walking, you're rewarded with epic views across the fjords from your cliff-top vantage points – plus the added bonus of (most likely) not another hiker in sight.

Endless, otherworldly views across the Long Range MountainsEndless, otherworldly views across the Long Range Mountains. Photo: Nathalie Gauthier

Tackling Great Canadian Trails’ guided Long Range Traverse means you get the benefit of extensive local knowledge – and guidance; navigation skills are essential here. 

2. East Coast Trail

For the ultimate eastern seaboard experience, it’s hard to beat the 265km big-bopper East Coast Trail, comprising 24 wilderness paths that take in all of this region’s diverse landscapes over the course of one, six or ten days, with nights spent in cozy B&Bs.

Yep, adventure can be tough but it can also be combined with a bit of pampering, too! 

The East Coast Trail skirts the cliffs at Cape Spear Lighthouse |  <i>Barrett & MacKay Photo</i>The East Coast Trail skirts the cliffs at Cape Spear Lighthouse | Photo courtesy Barrett & MacKay Photo

3. Gros Morne Sampler

And don’t think that you can’t experience this otherworldly destination if you’re ‘not fit enough’ to tackle these long distance walks; a four-day Gros Morne Sampler takes in the best of the region for those limited on time.

Choose from a selection of hikes varying on difficulty; from a gentle foray along a seaside vista to a challenging backcountry adventure, you'll be spoilt for choice. There's the 10km coastal trek that takes you to the Green Gardens' lush landscape; a full 16km loop of the Gros Morne Mountains; an off-trail hike to the Big Lookout, which reward hikers with 360 degree views of Gros Morne National Park; as well as the rocky Tablelands hike, where you walk atop the earth's exposed mantle.

Backcountry Hiking in Gros Morne National ParkBackcountry hiking in Gros Morne National Park

But it doesn't end there! This adventure tour combines day walking with a scenic boat tour along the dramatic Western Brook Pond Fjord, a traditional Newfoundland musical performance and a gourmet culinary fix in Gros Morne's top fine dining restaurants.

Great Canadian Trails has ensured that this seemingly unattainable part of the world is, in fact, very easy – and awesome fun – to experience.

Bonus add-on

As well as walking, wildlife and epic landscapes, Newfoundland has a rich and long history, with Quirpon Island a perfect example, and one that is an easy experience, thanks to Great Canadian Trails' Vikings, Whales and Icebergs three-day trip.

'Bergy Bits' pay a visit to Quirpon Island, Western NL'Bergy Bits' pay a visit to Quirpon Island, Western NL

As you’d expect with a name like that, Quirpon Island is a great location for spotting icebergs and is also home to up to 27 species of whale. It's also just a short boat ride from the mainland and the village of St Anthony, near where you will find with the only historic Viking site in North America: the 1000-year-old L’Anse aux Meadows UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sod Hut at L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland |  <i>Barrett & MacKay Photo</i>Sod Hut at L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland | Photo courtesy: Barrett & MacKay Photo

For that remote, away-from-the-crowds experience, the eastern seaboard of Canada is a tough one to beat and is now, thankfully, more easily accessed than ever before. So, yep, there’s no excuse to add it to your Canada adventure bucket list!

Words by Justin Walker

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