Completing The East Coast Trail – Put it on Your Bucket List!

Photo at the trailhead in Bauline with my mom, completing the East Coast Trail!

The East Coast Trail is one of our province’s greatest gems for residents and tourists, spanning more than 336 KM on the Eastern edge of North America. The 25 footpaths from Topsail beach to Cappahayden on the Southern Shore will present awe inspiring beauty.

The paths of the East Coast Trail take you past towering cliffs and headlands, sea stacks, deep fjords, and a natural wave-driven geyser called the Spout. Experience abandoned settlements, lighthouses, ecological reserves, seabird colonies, whales, icebergs, the world’s southernmost caribou herd, historic sites, a 50-metre suspension bridge, two active archaeological dig sites, and many more attractions.

East Coast Trail

The concept of hiking was very foreign to me pre-covid. I began walking during the winter of 2020 and realized how out of shape I was for someone in their mid-thirties. I continued walking regularly and taking on the Grand Concourse in St. John’s, Mount Pearl, Paradise, Torbay and Conception Bay South. I eventually started hiking the trails on the Great Northern Peninsula and finally set my sight by Fall 2020 on the East Coast Trail.

I began with shorter trails that were in St. John’s and expanded to complete the route from Topsail Beach to Portugal Cove, Cape Spear to Maddox Cove, Pouch Cove to Flat Rock and the Spout Path just after Halloween to complete 9/25.

In 2021, my mother decided she would join me on the journey of traversing the East Coast Trail. Over the summer and into fall, we covered the remaining 16 trails.

On September 26th, my mom and I headed to Portugal Cove South with a plan to tackle Picco’s Ridge and find our way to Bauline so I could check another big item off my Bucket List!

The 14.5 KM trek to Bauline started with some inclines, definitely the beginning and the end are the hardest aspect. The trail is rated difficult, but I found it rather enjoyable and certainly not the hardest one undertaken.

There were beautiful views of Portugal Cove, Bell Island and Conception Bay in the beginning. I enjoyed the coastline, views of erratic rocks, mushrooms, berries, ponds, forested areas and even an eagle before the waterfall!

The rock cliffs, Inukshuk, presence of patridgeberries and grassy areas had you wanting to take photos around every corner. After Piccos Ridge the landscape would eventually change as you get closer to Bauline and the focus becomes descending by ropes. I would strongly advise wearing proper hiking boots and not doing this after rain. A wet trail here can present many hazards.

Before reaching the ropes, I would see Chris Dredge, the former Mayor of Bauline and someone I knew from the Great Northern Peninsula, growing up. In Newfoundland, with our small population, we are all ever so connected.

The descent wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be from what I’ve read, but we had ideal conditions for hiking. We were very happy to reach the final trail head and took a photo as we made it to Bauline.

It was at the moment I could celebrate an achievement knowing I had completed the East Coast Trail. Those who live close to these footpaths had such a gem in their backyard. We need to do more to tell the world about it.

An investment in the East Coast Trail, is an investment in the preservation of nature, environment and supports business, tourism and economic development across the Avalon Peninsula. Learn more at East Coast Trail.

Purchase a pair of hiking boots for the holidays and gift membership for $25.00 to make 2022 your year to complete a big bucket list item.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore


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