Climbing Gros Morne Mountain has been on my bucket list for years. And with good reason, as the second highest peak in Newfoundland with stunning views, people flock to summit it every year. While if you are into hiking it is a totally doable mountain, it isn’t easy. You need to ensure you are prepared, physically able to complete it, and have a good understanding of the terrain. I will cover our experience and some tips for your Gros Morne Mountain experience.
I read every blog post on the internet about Gros Morne Mountain, I would recommend you do the same. Some posts talked about how it was easy and some how hard it was. My thoughts are that it is a moderately difficult hike that most reasonably fit people should be able to complete. However, don’t attempt this as your first hike. There are tons of hikes in Gros Morne that you can complete that aren’t the mountain.
We did our hike in August and it was a gorgeous but hot day. Our trip was 5 days on the west coast and we decided to attempt it as early in our trip as possible. That way if the weather changed we could push it out a day or two if needed. We did this hike on our second day in Gros Morne. Weather in Newfoundland is unpredictable at best. There are days that the weather can be perfect but the mountain can be covered in fog so you need to prepare for that.
Pack your bag with all the hiking essentials – including extra socks, first aid kit, rain gear, lunch and snacks and water. Myself and Bruce are fairly experienced hikers and we didn’t bring enough water. It was a hot day and we had a 3L water bladder + 25oz S’well bottle. Bruce only had his large hiking pack and we decided to just take my day pack and bladder, this was a mistake.
We ran out of water on our way back down with a couple of hours of hiking to go and there is no water available on the mountain. We had purifying tablets but every water source we came across was either stagent or had a beaver damn on it so we decided not to risk it. Since this trip we have purchased a second small hiking pack and bladder for Bruce so no more sharing! I would recommend at least 2L per person and more if it is hot.
The Route – 2018
We hiked the mountain in August 2018 and my understanding is the route is changing in 2019. Essentially we hiked into the base of the mountain then hiking up the mountain through the rock gulch and back down around past Western Brook Pond to the same path we came in on. Our total time including a 30 minute lunch was about 6 hours.
We had breakfast and started our hike first thing in the morning. There were already tons of cars there when we arrived around 9-10am. The hike into the base of the mountain was mostly in the forest. The terrain was of course uphill but for the most part included fairly easy inclines. However, even in the shade it was quite warm, we made sure to take lots of breaks. Hiking into the base is a gorgeous hike in itself and if you aren’t feeling the mountain you can just turn around and head back the way you came in. There is a washroom located at the base of the mountain. If you head past here you’re in it till the end, there are no bailouts on the path.
From the base is the toughest part of the hike, the rock gulch. You are essentially hauling yourself over large rocks straight up for about an hour. It is hard and feels at times like it is never going to end. If it’s a hot day and the sun is shining down on you it can get warm really quick at this point. Be sure to take plenty of breaks as you make your way up. This part of the trail is why they say not to bring your dogs on this hike. There was someone there with a dog and the dog was clearly suffering.
Once you get past the rock gulch you are about 20 minutes from the top. Keep pushing for the summit, it will be worth it! Once we arrived and took the necessary photos we enjoyed our lunch overlooking the breathtaking views and how far we had come.
The hike back down is just stunning. Be sure to stop and take in the view of Western Brook Pond. The path continues mostly down hill but there are difficult points across rocky gulches. Eventually, the path meets back up with the trail you hiked in on at the base of the mountain. This is the easy part, the path is mostly downhill and of course it is later in the day so it should be cooler. Enjoy the walk out soon enough you’ll be back in the parking lot with sore legs and a full heart.
Have you ever hiked Gros Morne Mountain? What was your experience?