A Hike on the Spurwink Island Path, East Coast Trail, Newfoundland

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The East Coast Trail on the island of Newfoundland, runs from Cape St. Francis in the north to Cappahayden in the south, a distance of 265 kilometers. The trail follows the rugged coast via a series of 24 connected paths, each with its own northern and southern trailhead. Most of the trailheads are an easy drive away from St. John’s so it’s possible to do them as a day trip, at least if you have a car shuttle.

When I was in Newfoundland in June, I had the chance to hike two sections of the East Coast Trail – the Sugarloaf Path and the Spurwink Island Path. They were very different experiences. The Sugarloaf Path was done with a friend on a beautiful sunny day. The Spurwink Island Path was done under cloudy skies with a group of 18 other people. Both experiences were excellent.

To back up, I should tell you that through the help of a number of dedicated volunteers, hikes are organized and led on a different section of the East Coast Trail every weekend from April until November. The people in charge of scheduling hikes were kind enough to accommodate me, by moving a scheduled hike from a Sunday to a Saturday. A huge thank you for that.

The Spurwink Island Path is one of the difficult sections that make up the East Coast Trail. The one way section of trail is 17 kilometers long. Although there aren’t huge ups and downs, it’s certainly what I would describe as rugged. Much of the trail is in the woods – which I never like as much as the full on coastal hiking experience. Fortunately, once we hit our lunch spot at the Berry Head sea arch (a real highlight on the trail), the trail became way more scenic. And the hike was always interesting because of the conversations one had with a diverse group of people from all over the world. Anyone can join a weekend hike, if you’re prepared to sign a waiver. And for out of town visitors, there is always the option of carpooling out of St. John’s.

 Here’s a look at the Spurwink Island Path.

"The start of the Spurwink Path"

The start of the Spurwink Path

"Hiking the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland"

We’re a group of 19 led by volunteers

"Lady slipper"

One of the lady slippers seen on the trail

"Pink rhododendrons (or are they azaeas?) coming into bloom"

Pink rhododendrons (or are they azaleas?) coming into bloom

"Gallows Cove on the East Coast Trail"

Gallows Cove at the 7.9 km mark

"One of the 5 backcountry campsites along the length of the East Coast Trail"

One of the 5 backcountry campsites along the length of the East Coast Trail

"Much of the trail - especially before lunch is in the woods"

Much of the trail – especially before lunch – is in the woods

"South Head"

South Head

"Love the art work that goes with the signs along the East Coast Trail"

Love the art work that goes with the signs

"Looking north from the top of the Berry Head sea arch"

The view to the north from the top of the Berry Head sea arch

"Looking down on our lunch spot from the top of the Berry Head sea arch - East Coast Trail"

Looking down on our lunch spot from the top of the Berry Head sea arch

"Berry Head sea arch"

The person on the top of the Berry Head sea arch provides some scale

"lunch at Berry Head sea arch"

There’s definitely a lot of us

"East Coast Trail"

We’re in for more coastal views as we continue past the sea arch

"A mid-afternoon break at Founder's Cove"

A mid-afternoon break at Founder Cove

"Beautiful views from Grassy Point"

Beautiful views from Grassy Point

"A stretch around Grassy Point"

A stretch around Grassy Point

"red pinecones"

I’d never seen red pine-cones before

"Spurwink Island Trail near the end"

We’re within spitting distance of the parking lot at this point

The Spurwink Island Path starts by the Aquaforte River near Hagan’s Hospitality Home. The southern trailhead is at the back of the church in Port Kirwan.

It’s possible to hike the whole East Coast Trail over 10 -1 4 days. Check out Trail Connections if you want help with organizing accommodation and trip logistics. If you’re heading out even for just a day, go prepared for all kinds of weather. A pair of poles and gaiters comes in handy too.

Have you hiked any part of the East Coast Trail? Do you have a favourite section?

Leigh McAdam

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