East Coast Trail - St. John's - Hiking Newfoundland

 

An opportunity near Fort Amherst to hike a short segment of the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland.

East Coast Trail, Newfoundland, Canada

 

On the walk to the lighthouse and ruins at Fort AmherstMélanie and I pass an access to the East Coast Trail.

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada The view of Fort Amherst from the walk along the road. Access to the infamous East Coast Trail is also on this road.

 

On the return from Fort Amherst the decision is made to hike part of the 230 KM (144 mile) East Coast Trail.  The commitment this day will be about the first 3 KM (1⅞ miles) on Section 1 of 19.  This short hike will be on the Deadman's Bay Path which travels 10.6 KM (6⅝ miles) between Fort Amherst and Blackhead.

 

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada

 

Although this hike must be brief to allow time for the later afternoon trip to Cape Spear, it is quite exciting to have the unexpected opportunity.

 

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada

 

At the beginning of Deadman's Bay Path, within a few feet of the trail-head, there is a single, rectangular, concrete pillar whose purpose is unknown, however, the reason will soon become clear.

 

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada

 

Immediately, it becomes apparent this section of the trail will contain an uphill exercise as the hike proceeds to the top of a ridge high above.  At the beginning some trail sections are on wooden log stairs and others are on a rocky creek bed. 

 

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada

 

Within a kilometer (⅝ mile) the hike proceeds around a large, square concrete structure which, from the back, appears to be a reservoir for storing water from the creek bed beside.  Eureka!  The concrete pillar near the trail-head supported a wooden duct or metal pipe to supply water to troops at Fort Amherst.

 

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada The front of the concrete structure as altitude increases on Deadman's Bay Path,  East Coast Trail at Fort Amherst.

 

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada The back shows the structure is a very old concrete vat to hold water from the creek which will eventually flow to Fort Amherst below.

 

As elevation gain eases, the hike proceeds past pristine meadows into forested areas which approach the top of the ridge where rock formations are vaguely reminiscent of miniature versions of Yosemite National Park's granite domes.

 

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada

 

Magnificent views of the coastline and the ocean begin to unfold.  There is a storm down the coast, in the far distance, but skies overhead are simply overcast.

 

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada

 

As the hike makes the short, final, altitude gains to the top of the ridge, the beauty of Freshwater Bay unfolds ahead and beneath this elevated position.  The dividing barachois is clearly visible between Freshwater Bay and Freshwater Pond.  The next bay over is Deadman's Bay.

 

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada From the top of the ridge, Freshwater Bay is directly below us with Freshwater Pond at the far end.

 

St. John's is visible in the far distance.  Mel is sucking up blueberries like it is the world's last crop.  My suggestion she leave a few for other people falls on deaf ears.  I have seen bears that could not strip berries off bushes so efficiently.  Bears are not a big issue here.  There are a lot of moose.

 

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada There is a lake below us and it is compelling to off-trail to the edge. East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada Cabot Tower on top of Signal Hill hovering over St. John's is visible in the far distance. The impression of granite domes is undeniable.

 

The lake called Soldier's Pond is created by an old concrete dam which does not appear to be all that secure but undoubtedly it is monitored.

 

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada Soldier's Pond above Fort Amherst on the East Coast Trail, Newfoundland, Canada.

 

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada Soldier's Pond, off to the side of the East Coast Trail, is held back by an old concrete dam.  A water supply to Fort Amherst.

 

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada

 

Towards the bottom of the return hike, there is a better view of the concrete storage vault to regulate the flow of water from Soldier's Pond which also becomes an excellent foreground to the view over the Narrows and the base of Signal Hill.

 

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada

 

The Canadian East Coast Trail is a 230 KM ( 144 miles) long wilderness hiking experience combined with visits to 30 historic Newfoundland communities along the east shore of the Avalon Peninsula.  There are 18 trail segments, plus one on the north side of Signal Hill in St. John's called the 8.9 KM (5⅜ miles) Sugarloaf Path connecting Logy Bay with Quidi Vidi Village.

The East Coast Trail offers pristine boreal forest, saturated and breathtaking coastal vistas, towering cliffs and headlands, sea stacks, deep fjords, a natural wave-driven geyser called the Spout, abandoned settlements, numerous lighthouses, ecological reserves, seabird colonies, whales spouting and breaching offshore, the 50 m (164 ft) suspension bridge at LaManche and an active archaeological dig from Lord Baltimore's Colony of Avalon.  

Additionally, there are well-prepared meals at local restaurants and comfortable bed and breakfasts along the way.

On the return walk along Southside Road to the parking area, the road passes Frederick's Cove and the slim remains of historic Frederick's Battery.

 

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada

 

The next stop is further down the coast for a walking tour of Cape Spear which hosts Canada's most easterly point, a historic World War II military installation and Newfoundland's oldest surviving Lighthouse (ca. 1835).

The drive to Cape Spear passes along coves surrounded by fishing villages so pristine they appear too perfect to be real.  There is an exemplary prevailing pride in each community.  The two photos below feature one of these picturesque villages.

 

East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada East Coast Trail - St. John's - Newfoundland, Canada

 

This day is fascinating and on the way to Cape Spear there is no premonition the challenge of the day will be dinner at the end of this action packed day.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Although we hiked only a short distance on the East Coast Trail, what we saw and subsequently learned in researching the world class hike has convinced me to return and hike the entire length. 2014 is full booked but I hope to get back there in the summer of 2015. It is important to be prepared for wet weather. When you hike the East Coast Trail, I will be very interested in your observations and advice. The route seems to be well established with plenty of accommodation options. Thanks for your comment, Leigh. I thoroughly enjoyed your recent newsletter. The East Coast trail markings were very clear in the short distance we hiked. I believe the good maintenance level we experienced is likely consistent for the entire 230 KM. I have neither read nor heard anything which would indicate otherwise.

I'm thinking of hiking a section of the East Coast Trail next summer. You've got some great photos in here. How did you find the trail markings overall?

Thank you for your comment, Andrea. I always appreciate it when a reader provides value added to the post information. The weather we enjoyed was quite civilized at the time of our visit in spite of the fact Hurricane Leslie was barreling its way north in the Atlantic Ocean towards Newfoundland's south coast. I did not know the windswept trees were called tuckamoors. In the short time we were in Newfoundland it was common to see groups or lines of them along shorelines when we were close to the coast.

I liked your photo of the windswept tree; makes me miss home even more. Now I might have missed it but I don't believe you called these trees by name: tuck or tuckamoor. Your photo shows a very tall example but its what we call the tree line from the ocean where the trees grow flat to the ground or get sculpted like the one in the photo. There you go, your learning adventure for the day.

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