Like it or not we have been given the gift of getting to explore at home this year. Travel plans for 2020 have been long forgotten and I am choosing to embrace my beautiful province and all it has to offer. I have hiked 11 of the 25 paths on the East Coast Trail. Almost halfway! Hopefully we complete the entire trail in the next couple of years. These are my favourite hikes on the east coast trail.
Before you head out on your hiking adventure I’d encourage you to purchase a set of maps from the association. Besides the fact that they are a great way to support the association, the maps have tons of information on them. Sometimes cell service can be hard to find on the trail so it’s a good idea to have paper maps. They are waterproof as well so no worries of them getting destroyed out in the elements.
Silver Mine Path – 2.4km – Easy
This path is from Middle Cove Beach to Torbay. Out of all the paths I’ve done so far it is the easiest on the trail. Most of the trail you need to bring two cars or hike the path out and back to get back to the beginning. This one is so short it’s an easy hour hike out and back to your car. It’s a great weekday evening hike to do after work to get a little time outdoors if you have been working all day.
It is relatively flat and there are stunning views of Middle Cove Beach. Keep an eye out for a sea cave that is close to Middle Cove Beach. This is a well used and busy path so it’s a great choice for going solo. They just installed a new bridge on this path so you can now easily get to the end without having to cross a river by foot.
Mickleens Path – 7.3km – Easy / Moderate
This path is from Bay Bulls to Witless Bay. It is relatively easy with a couple of moderately difficult areas. I have seen whales breeching out of the water while hiking on this path. Bay Bulls is a big area for boat tours so there are definitely whales in this area around June / July. Keep an eye out for them! When you’re done your hike consider grabbing a bite to eat at Fork, my favourite restaurant on the Southern Shore.
Brigus Head Path – 6.5km – Moderate
This path is from Brigus South to Admirals Cove. This is my most hiked path on the East Coast Trail. I have done it four times in the last couple years. My husband and I became trail custodians of this path in 2018. That means every spring and fall we hike this path and note any areas that need improvement and repair. We write a short report when we are done and submit it. It is a great way to give back to the association as they are non-profit and require lots of volunteer help!
This beautiful trail is only an hour from St. John’s and you only need one car for this one as well. If you take the access path from the end of the trail in Admiral’s Cove you will cut through the woods and be back to Brigus South in about 20 minutes, but be warned it can be muddy!
My favourite view point on this trail is Hare’s Ears, keep an eye out for the sign. There is also a great picnic spot in the rocky area just before the 5km mark and the big set of stairs on the Admiral’s Cove side.
Cape Spear Path – 11.5km – Moderate
This path is from Blackhead / Cape Spear to Maddox Cove. You can start / end at either Blackhead or Cape Spear. I have done both as the Blackhead part used to be it’s own path that is 3.7km. Honestly the views on the Cape Spear path on its own are stunning so I would just do that unless you want the extra kilometres or to see the view over Blackhead.
Cape Spear is the most easterly point in North America so take in that while you are there. I would suggest starting at Cape Spear and ending in Maddox Cove. The winding views of Maddox Cove as you get close are stunning. When you’re done your hike, walk through beautiful Maddox Cove and take in the views of Petty Harbour. Then treat yourself to a coffee and a treat at Watershed Cafe or Fish and Chips at Chafe’s Landing.
Spout Path – 16.6km + 7km Access Trail – Difficult
This path is from Bay Bulls to the Goulds. It is by far the most difficult path we have hiked on the East Coast Trail. It was also our first overnight on the trail. You can hike it in one day but we decided to try overnight hiking for the first time. We wanted to try carrying in our gear and seeing what it felt like to sleep on the trail and hike two days in a row. Many people do the trail as a thru hike. They complete the over 300kms over the course of 2 – 3 weeks. I am amazed by these people and love hearing about their experiences. Maybe we’ll try it one day but for now at least we’ve tried one night!
Our actual plan was to hike two paths, Spout + Motion which is Bay Bulls to Petty Harbour so we could avoid the access path on Shoal Bay Road. We ran into some poor weather on day 2 of hiking so we bailed out at Shoal Bay. If you can avoid Shoal Bay and do both at once I’d recommend it. It’s a real boring 7km walk up a gravel road that feels like it will never end.
Other then the access path the Spout is an amazing trail! So gorgeous, the views are never ending. There is a lighthouse, abandoned community and of course the star of the show – the spout!
We camped at the primitive campsite on the trail at Little Bald Head. There are tent platforms and an outdoor toilet. There is a stream nearby that has decent quality water which we boiled and used to cook.
Be sure to bring plenty of food and water for this trail. There are no bailout points and not much water access. This is no doubt a difficult trail. So many climbs and descents, over and over again but the work is worth it and you feel exhausted but accomplished by the end of it.
This year is going to be a big year of hiking for us because there are so many amazing trails in Newfoundland to experience. Not just the East Coast Trail but many others across the island. Hiking is one of our favourite ways to relax on the weekend. There is no better experience then the fresh ocean air and getting out in the woods! The next hikes on our list are Chance Cove (I’ve done this one but Bruce hasn’t), Caplin Bay Path, Motion Path, Father Troy’s Path, Biscan Cove Path and Spurwink Path. Spurwink will likely be our overnight on the East Coast Trail this year. Hopefully we’ll also be taking on some more trails outside of the Avalon on a staycation at some point.