Gros Morne National Park

Gros Morne National Park was one of those places that I bookmarked before leaving Australia. You see pictures that make your heart skip but never really think past that. It wasn’t until I was in the park that I was fully aware of how incredibly special the area is. Gros Morne NP is the second largest national park in Atlantic Canada and it gets its name from Newfoundland’s second highest peak, Gros Morne. It’s huge.

One of the things which stands out for me about Gros Morne National Park is its diversity. In one hike (notably the Green Gardens hike) you start in baron rock lands, cross into dense woodland and get spat out onto a grassy cliff-top meadow scattered with sheep.

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Stuckless Pond: 10.6km

17392756_10212326579983297_2003402356_nA beautiful loop around a small lake. An easy flat jog with some soggy areas. Notable: mossy underfoot and dreamy, dense trees. Easy to imagine forest creatures loving the density of the woodland. An easy trail to follow and very well maintained. I imagine in the summer the ground would dry out and the bridges cover the parts that don’t.

Western Brook Pond: 6km

It took convincing to justify the ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland, an expense I just hadn’t considered and such a large chunk of my funds. After making that investment for my journey, I couldn’t have made it all that way and not splashed out on this experience. The company that operates the boat tours through Western Brook Pond (BonTours) is fantastic, efficient and very informative. I’m not usually a fan of guided tours with constant commentary, but this was both amusing and educational.

There is a short walk from the car park to the ferry dock along a really beautiful boardwalk (wheelchair access!). The BonTour ferry port offers coffee and a beautiful initial view of the Western Brook Pond. It also has a few educational panels which describe the rock formations, how the fjord evolved and how they transported the ferries into the pond.

My recommendation: spend the ~$60 (depends on dates) and take the boat tour. You’ve made it that far, it’s definitely worth it.

western brook pondOld Mail Road: 3.2km

Lovely trail, cut onto the beach on the way back for a little variation but STAY ON THE PATH (the dunes are breading areas for seabirds). This path was once part of the only overland route up the Northern Peninsula. Every winter from 1882 to 1952, mailmen travelled it by dogsled to deliver mail along the coast. It’s flat and very well maintained.

Baker Brook Falls: 10.7km

dinos at fallsIt rained for pretty much the entire hike but it was worth pushing through. A well maintained trail with boardwalk in damp areas and rock stairs in steep areas (although not that many). There are a few options whilst making your way to the falls, one is to duck into the fenced area. I never worked out if this was to keep the moose in or out, but I didn’t see any so I guess that’s a fairly good indication. I also didn’t see any dinosaurs despite feeling like I was in Jurassic Park. I found it interesting that the vegetation was so different in the fenced area. It really shows the impact the moose grazing has on the flora. I wish I’d paid more attention to the types of trees and 17360881_10212326579703290_807670522_nflowers so I could compare it to other national parks.

There are multiple education panels along the trail, take the time to read them as it’s all very interesting!

Tablelands: 4.6km

This is an incredible geological site. I felt like I was on Mars. Such a change in scenery from the Baker Brook Falls area!

The Tablelands are barren and red-brown ultramafic rock. The rock is thought to originate in the Earth’s mantle and was forced up from the depths during a plate collision several hundred million years ago. The rocks are toxic and can’t support life (much like Mars?).

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Trout River Lookout: 2km

Nothing special but good to stretch the legs. It was storming and almost dark when I set out for the lookout so I guess it could be beautiful in other conditions.

Green Gardens: 18.9km

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Green Gardens is a perfect example of the contrasting landscape of Gros Morne National Park. You start in the tablelands, head through boreal forest to beautiful, lush, green grassy meadows atop the sea cliffs.

I chose to do the long route (and made it even longer by being thrown off by a moose trail) and it was definitely worth it. Watch out for the river crossings, in May the flow was strong and just above the knee.

Warning: This is a long hike over some difficult terrain. Stay on the trail (mhmm). Avoid walking close to the cliff edges at the coast as some parts are undercut. When I was there, the stairways down to the beaches were a little sketchy. Just make sure what you’re standing on is sturdy. If you find my blue hat with a fluffy pom pom, please treasure it dearly as I was very sad to lose it.

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