Blog Archives

The Northern Terminus for the IAT is at Cape Raven Trail, Straitsview, NL

The International Appalachian Trail’s Northern Terminus is at Crow Head, Newfoundland and Labrador and can be accessed from the Cape Raven Trail at Straitsview, NL.

Noddy Bay, surveyed by Captain James Cook in 1763

The trail is rated moderate due to some steep sections and takes about 45 minutes to hike and about 20 minutes to the scenic lookout where Captain James Cook is said to have surveyed Noddy Bay in 1763. This famous British cartographer and explorer did much surveying of the Great Northern Peninsula in the mid-1700’s. A cairn of his can be found on Dog Peninsula in Bird Cove in a wonderful walking trail, the Town of Cook’s Harbour bears his name and there are many places in the area named after officers in his crew, like Keppel Island, Hawke’s Bay and Port Saunders.

To find Cape Raven trail you must take the Viking Trail (Route 430) and head north until you reach Route 436 to L’anse aux Meadows. The Cape Raven Trail is about 25 KM down this route and past the community Straitsview. There is a parking area and trailhead signage on the right. If you reach Hay Cove you have passed the trail.

Although the signage notes the trail is about 45 minutes return, the walk can be much longer as it connects to other trails such as Noddy Bay Head Trail and can continue to L’anse aux Meadows as part of the Iceberg Trail. This hike can be up to several kilometres. I opted to create a loop and return via the main road (Route 436) back to my parked vehicle which is a few kilometres and takes about a couple of hours.

You will want to take some time to truly enjoy the panoramic views of the community of Straitsview, the unique topography that is the Northern Terminus for the International Appalachian Trail on the island of Newfoundland and also take in magical views of icebergs, whales, birds and other marine activity.

There is ample resting areas along the way, either a bench, viewing area or picnic table. The trail does have signage, which would be improved upon for visitors to ensure they are aware of the interconnected trail network that makes up the multi-day Iceberg Trail from L’anse aux Meadows to St. Lunaire-Griquet. This is another economic development initiative of St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. (SABRI).

I look forward to spending more days trekking the trails in this particular region. The coastline just creates an atmosphere that will have you lost in all the beauty you have found.

Add Cape Raven Trail on Crow Head at Straitsview, NL to your must do trail list when visiting the Great Northern Peninsula. When you are done you can head on up to Skipper Hots for some wonderful pub food.

Learn more about the Great Northern Peninsula’s trails by clicking here.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore

Unique Rock Formations and Marine Life are on Display at Whale Point Trail, Wild Bight

Whale Point Trail, Wild Bight is an easy 8 km walking trail (return) from the base of the parking area. I’ve enjoyed the walk by Cailloux and Cape Norman Bay as you will typically see marine life that include whales, sea birds, icebergs and active fishers coasting along the water.

To get here you will have to travel the Viking Trail (Route 430) several hundred kilometres from Deer Lake and take Route 435 to Cook’s Harbour, which is more than 20 KM before you enter the town. Wild Bight is just two kilometres by gravel road on the left heading toward North Boat Harbour. You will pass through the community of Wild Bight and the trailhead, picnic table and parking area will be visible as you take the turn to go up the hill. If you reach the road to the Cape Norman Lighthouse, you have gone to far. A visit to the lighthouse is an absolute must and for those who appreciate rare plants and flowers you will want to spend some time viewing the limestone barrens in the area. I will certainly share my experience in a future article.

In last July, I made this visit and was not disappointed by the beautiful surroundings as I made my way to Whale Point and Christine Cove. I ended up extending my trail adventure by walking to Cape Norman lighthouse and spending some time soaking in the pure beauty of this place before I returned to my car on such a hot summer’s day.

Growing up on the Great Northern Peninsula, I truly took for granted the fact that I could see the water of the sea every morning. It wasn’t until I moved to Edmonton, Alberta for a year where I realized that being surrounded by water in some form was really important to me. As I walked along the shoreline, I could see the remains of sea urchin shells, beach glass, and incredible and truly unique rock formations. They were in abundance. Also, the sounds of boat engines as fishers were going back and forth the bay, the gentle waves would splash along the rocks, while an osprey or some other large bird flew overhead.

I strongly encourage you to keep walking and exploring Cape Norman and carefully following the rules to ensure the protection of the unique ecology that surrounds the flora around the limestone barrens. Make the trek of 5 more kilometres to North Boat Harbour. You can walk the Highlands picnic area, view the colour sheds and capture some beautiful scenery in this tiny fishing village. When back in Cook’s Harbour you can visit Garge Coates’ Point, a popular area for locals to enjoy an outdoor fire. The community has an incredible playground for youth and also equipment for adults to enjoy. You can pick up a lunch at Decker’s Store or if you are lucky the take-out at the Firehall.

Cape Norman Lighthouse

Find yourself exploring the Whale Point Trail and see something wild and unique in Wild Bight on the Great Northern Peninsula!

Learn more about the Great Northern Peninsula’s trails by clicking here.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore

Are You A Daredevil? Check out Daredevil Trail, St. Anthony, NL

The Daredevil Trail on Fishing Point Municipal Park in St. Anthony, NL on the Great Northern Peninsula is a daunting 476 steps up and another 476 down. The views at the top will give you perfect panoramic views of the community, St. Anthony Bight, the coastline, whales, icebergs, birds, fishing boats and so much more.

St. Anthony is the largest community on the Great Northern Peninsula and was home to Sir Dr. Wilfred Grenfell and Lady Anne Grenfell. They were transformative to the people of this community and the entire Great Northern Peninsula and Labrador in their quest to improve both the economic and social needs for those they served. The Grenfell Historic Properties is one of the important tourism draws to the community, in addition there are boat tours, restaurants, accommodations, souvenir shops, dinner theatre, music, a craft brewery and an abundance of outdoor recreation.

At the very end of the Viking Trail (Route 430) you will find yourself in St. Anthony and will take West Street to Fishing Point Municipal Park. It is home to the famous Lightkeeper’s Seafood Restaurant, Great Viking Feast Dinner Theatre, Fishing Point Emporium, a place cherished by locals and it too has many walking and hiking trails:

  • Dare Devil Trail
  • Cartier’s Trail
  • Whale Watcher’s Trail
  • Santana Trail
  • Iceberg Alley Trail

There is a dedicated parking lot for Santana Trail and also you can’t miss the 476 stairs going up the side of the cliff. Park here and take a short walk to the base of Daredevil Trail. I know the stairs look daunting but truly it isn’t so as there are rest areas and you take your time on this moderate to difficult trail.

At the very top is much like a Signal Hill with the views of the city, the ocean and directional signage of where places in the world can be found, while there is no Cabot Tower, there is a cellular tower and the former American Base is off in the distance.

You can easily spend hours at the top, enjoying a picnic, the sunrise or sunset, the activity below will always give you something to enjoy. At the very top is just incredibly peaceful and truly will leave you in awe. Fishing Point is truly a special place. The locals know the treasure they have and they truly cherish it. When in St. Anthony be a daredevil and climb to the very top!

Learn more about the Great Northern Peninsula’s trails by clicking here.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore

A Quest to Find St. Brendan’s Rock

St. Lunaire-Griquet is the Gateway to Vinland, as you pass through this picturesque town on Route 436 heading to L’anse aux Meadows for your Viking World UNESCO Heritage site destination. However, this town also has a great network of walking trails and further a mystery, known by locals as “St. Brendan’s” Rock.

This mysterious rock, was discovered by locals who saw an unusual jumble of straight line carvings and no claim by anyone for making them. People believe that these markings date back to St. Brendan, the Irish explorer of the 9th century who set out for the Isle of the Blessed. Although, there has been no evidence to actually prove this inscription was made by St. Brendan, it was made by someone and it does peak the interest to find out who made it and when? It certainly peaked my curiosity to travel to Dog Head via St. Brendan’s Trail.

The Trail Head begins at the playground area near the Daily Catch Restaurant, where you can take the road up the hill, which is known as St. Brendan’s trail and will take about 1/2 hour return. The trail to St. Brendan’s Rock though is via Dog Head, so at the top of the trail you must take the pathway to the right before the viewing area. The trail return is more than a 7 KM journey return.

The Dog Head Peninsula has spectacular scenery, where we had the opportunity to view whales. Earlier in the summer season this would also be a great place for iceberg viewing. The vast nature of trees, flowers, berries, beaches and coastline make for a formidable hike. The trail is part of the multi-day Iceberg Trail but it does require better directional markings and some improvement to trail paths to reduce getting wet feet or walking through mud.

I thoroughly enjoyed making this hike to the uniquely shaped peninsula that resembles a sleeping dog, the photos speak for themselves. Although, I was disappointed to have not found the boulder with the mysterious carvings. If one did not know exactly where it was, I doubt they would even find it. I asked many locals about the location of this mysterious rock, and was pointed to a couple of names. Although, I didn’t find this uniquely carved rock in 2020, I hope this year will be a different story.

There are so many interesting trails and mysteries that surround the Great Northern Peninsula. One only has to consider the French Graffiti of Album Rock in Ship Cove by photographer Moit in the 1850s or the French carvings in the rocks by sailors on the Epine Cordoret Trail in Croque Harbour. I’ll write about both in a future posting.

Learn more about the Great Northern Peninsula’s trails by clicking here.

Live Rural NL

Christopher Mitchelmore

An End of Summer Surprise – Killer Whales Make Northland Discovery Boat Tour Memorable

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At the end of summer, I took what would be my third Northland Discovery Boat Tour in just over a decade. It was my first without an iceberg (given the lateness in the season this was to be expected), but was I ever surprised by the number of whales I would see and the show the orcas and humpbacks would put on for me!

Located at the Grenfell Historic Properties Dock, St. Anthony, NL – Northland Discovery Boat Tours is the place you can see more whales, more icebergs and have more time on the water. It is an experience one will want to take if iceberg and whale watching is on your bucket list on the tip of Great Northern Peninsula!

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Departing scenic St. Anthony harbour, one gets a warm feeling of the significant fishing history of this community – the presence of wharves, fishing rooms, a state of the art shrimp plant, cold storage, port facilities for fishing vessels and so much more. As you get to the end of the harbour, Fishing Point Park’s lighthouse, walking trails, Lightkeeper’s Café, Fishing Point Emporium and the Great Viking Feast are the last dwellings you see before hitting the open water.

As we travelled past neighbouring communities of St. Anthony Bight, Great Brehat and St. Carol’s we would see boaters and fishers jigging for cod fish on the last days of August. It was clear there was lots of fish in the water, making our likelihood of seeing whales that much more possible.

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Three humpback whales were working together to push fish near the rocks and become a feeding ground for the whales. It created an opportunity for some lovely photos. On the return we would capture some impressive coastline.

The biggest surprise was the 7 orcas (killer whales) we were greeting with again near the mouth of the harbour. It was my first time seeing orcas, so it was quite memorable and the perfect summer surprise. I captured many up close photos and videos of the whales.

The 2.5 hour boat tour was highly educational, offered hands on information about barnacles, birds, whales and bergs (icebergs). It also at times includes a trip to a sea cave called “the oven” and includes some local folklore.

As we steamed back in the sun was beaming and shrimp draggers were returning to port. There was a comforting feeling knowing all the amazing beauty and economic potential that is garnered from the sea. It is our reason for why we settled permanently on the Great Northern Peninsula and businesses, such as Northland Discovery Boat Tours shares a little bit of that with the world. If you are interested in a tour check out – http://www.discovernorthland.com/

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula –                                          

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA St. Barbe-L’Anse aux Meadows                                        

 

 

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