Trailblazing with a Caribou On Top of the Tablelands

On Top of the Tablelands

Gros Morne National Park is the number one destination for tourism in Newfoundland and Labrador and is home to a network of more than 100 KMs of Parks Canada’s Trails, Gros Morne Mountain, Western Brook Fjord and a host of other cultural and outdoor experiences. It is the iconic Tablelands that gives the region a UNESCO stamp.

Boardwalk to the Tablelands

I’ve been to the Tablelands on many occasions with friends and loved ones visiting from around the world. I have explained to them, the feeling is like walking on Mars. One only has to look at the stark difference across the highway with grassy vegetation and forests in contrast to the barren land that is the Earth’s mantle that is exposed for the world to see and experience. Despite these visits, there is nothing like traversing the Tablelands like from the top using an off-trail route!

My day began driving Route 430 (The Viking Trail Highway) to Gros Morne and I detoured to Woody Point on Route 431 and took the road to Trout River. On the way, I stopped into the Discovery Centre and purchased my Parks Canada trail pass. It was August and the parking lot to the Tablelands was nearly in an overflow position, with cars and campers parked wherever they could. It was a beautiful day to walk to the Tablelands.

The Tablelands Trail is 4.2 KM return and takes you along the water, where there is a view area and many people take photos. Using the AllTrails App, I was able to find a new route, called Tablelands Off-Trail Loop. It is a 12.7 KM loop that requires the app, or else you may not always find the unmarked trail and find your way traversing over rock fields.

It was a very warm day and the walk to the hills seemed a bit deceiving. There was lots of interesting vegetation along the way, including pitcher plants. There was even a butterfly that followed me for quite awhile. I often see butterflies on the trail. Sometimes they are one, but more often they come in three.

I had met a couple walking along the route and found my way up to the top. At the top the views looking down we’re just spectacular. It truly gives a different perspective to this natural UNESCO wonder.

I didn’t have to walk far to see a caribou, just resting at the top. I’ve seen caribou many times, but I had not expected to see a caribou on top of the Tablelands.

Caribou resting on top of the Tablelands

I continued forward on what seemed like an endless surrounding of rock fields. I met 4 young women, who also were hiking this off-trail tour the first time. I took their photo for them and continued on my way. It seemed like a long time getting from that encounter to finding the bottom. The small stream of water from the top was beyond breathtaking. I just had to pause for awhile and smile at what I had accomplished before making my way down the winding hillside and eventually to my vehicle.

My adventure for the day was just beginning. After more than 13 KM of hiking in beautiful Gros Morne National Park, I got in my car and drove to Humber River Off-Grid Tours. The adventure of glamping and my first kayaking experience was about to unfold. It was definitely a big highlight of my summer on the island of Newfoundland. You can read about that experience here.

I can’t yet say I’ve done it all in Newfoundland and Labrador, but I’ve made it a personal goal of mine to truly find the beauty and those unique experiences all around my home province. It is a pleasure to share with you these experiences and hope it entices not only fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to do the same, but the world to come and Live Rural NL for themselves.

Collect Memories, Not Things –

Christopher Mitchelmore

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