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A Hike to the Summit of Gros Morne Mountain in Newfoundland

Hiking to the summit of Gros Morne Mountain, the second highest peak in Newfoundland, can be done via the rewarding and challenging 16 kilometer Gros Morne Mountain Trail. From just below the summit of the 806 meter mountain, you can enjoy phenomenal views of Ten Mile Brook Pond and the Long Range Mountains, providing of course that the fog hasn’t rolled in to obscure everything.

John and I did the hike to the summit on the last day of our Long Range Traverse. Instead of continuing down to the parking lot once we got to the junction by the Ferry Gulch Campsite (like most people do), we started climbing on a route that people use to descend. That was hard to do, mentally more than physically, as you know you’ve just added at least another three hours of hiking to your day. In hindsight though, I’m very happy we did it.

Most people approach the summit from a steep, scree filled gully that starts roughly four kilometers from the parking lot. Before you start the slog up the gully, ask yourself if you can get off the mountain before dark as you’ve got another eight kilometers of tough hiking ahead of you. Many people turn around at the viewing platform here.

"Gros Morne Mountain climb"

Looking up the steep gully that takes you to the summit

If you decide to keep going, then you’ve got 500 meters of climbing to get to the summit. Once above treeline, you’re in a fragile Arctic-alpine environment. Tread lightly. It’s not recommended that you descend this way, mostly because you don’t want to send rocks flying onto hikers below you. Since we were the last people off the mountain, I actually wish we’d returned via the gully as it would have saved us a lot of time.

Our route up to the summit was very pretty in short order. From the Ferry Gulch intersection, it’s a combination of hiking on good trails, boardwalk and stairs. All of it is well-marked, a welcome change after the Long Range Traverse – which offers hikers a navigational challenge with no marked trail.

"Looking down to the lake beside the Ferry Gulch Campsite"

Looking down to the lake beside the Ferry Gulch Campsite

"Ferry Gulch Campsite, Gros Morne National Park"

Ferry Gulch Campsite

"The views within 30 minutes of leaving the Ferry Gulch Campsite"

The views within 30 minutes of leaving the Ferry Gulch Campsite

You’ll find fluorescent markers above treeline, put in place to help you get safely off the mountain if the fog suddenly rolls in.

"I counted 177 stairs in total"

I counted 177 stairs in total

"View to the Long Range Traverse from Gros Morne Mountain"

And that’s the view looking down over to where we’d been on the Long Range Traverse

"An easy section of boardwalk at the top of the stairs - Gros Morne Mountain"

An easy section of boardwalk at the top of the stairs

"Gros Morne Mountain in Newfoundland"

A powerful landscape where humans seem puny

"John and I beside the lookout over Ten Mile Brook Pond"

John and I beside the lookout over Ten Mile Brook Pond

"Hike to the summit of Gros Morne Mountain"

It’s a rocky hike to the summit – no matter which way you approach it

"The rocky summit of Gros Morne Mountain"

On top of Gros Morne Mountain

Our hike to the summit of Gros Morne Mountain was an out and back hike rather than the loop most people do. The return to the Ferry Gulch Campsite was quite enjoyable. But, I was surprised at how tough going the hiking was all the way from Ferry Gulch to the viewing platform by the gully. It’s rocky with uneven footing and took far longer than I anticipated. I figured it was a two hour hike – tops – especially as it’s only seven kilometers. But, it took us at least three hours.

Be warned that this part of the hike can get very hot in summer. Be sure to fill your water bottles at Ferry Gulch before starting off. Treat your water too.

"Nothing but rocky hills on the hike to & from Gros Morne Mountain"

What a rocky environment!

"Rough walking from the Ferry Gulch Campsite for many kilometers"

Rough walking from the Ferry Gulch Campsite for many kilometers

"Distant views of the Tablelands on the way down from Gros Morne Mountain"

Distant views of the Tablelands on the way down

"The path through thick vegetation called tuckamore"

The path through thick vegetation called tuckamore

"Gros Morne Mountain trail"

Back in a sea of green just minutes from the parking lot

All told, allow six to eight hours to do the full loop hike. Go prepared with a windbreaker for the summit and extra food and water. Proper footwear is a must as well. I wouldn’t recommend this hike for kids unless they were used to doing long, hard hikes.

Have you done any hiking in Gros Morne National Park?

A Hike to the Summit of Gros Morne Mountain in Newfoundland

Thank you to Go Western Newfoundland with help for part of this trip.

Leigh McAdam

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Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure – & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project – a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 26 Comments

  • jan says:

    What a beautiful camping spot Ferry Gulch would be. It would be a surreal experience in the beautifully green landscape. Camping to me usually means a dry country site, except in Mission Beach where it usually rains torrentially. Love the photo of you and John at the lookout,

  • Muza-chan says:

    So peaceful and tranquil…

  • Beautiful photos, Leigh! We only had a week in Newfoundland so stuck to the St. John’s and Terra Nova areas of the province but I hope to get back again to spend some time in Gros Morne – it looks incredible!

  • Sophie says:

    Don’t hear much about Newfoundland, it’s somewhat of an unsung part of Canada, I think. Most of what I know has to do with our Viking (temporary) emigrants. Had a look at a map, and it seems Gros Morne isn’t too terribly far from L’Anse aux Meadows. Interesting…

  • Valery says:

    Great experience! I’m going to Gros Morne in two-week time with my husband for only 3 complete days. We booked the daily hike (8 hours) to Western Brook Pond Gorge with local guide Clem, and also a 3-hour kayak tour in Bonne Bay. Can you suggest some other activity for the remaining day? It could be a hike, but it should be a marked trail, otherwise my husband gets panicky :)
    I’d love to do this hike to Gros Morne Summit but I think it will be too strenuous 3 day vacation.
    I’d appreciate your input.
    Thanks,
    Valery

    • @Valery You will have an amazing time with Clem. Consider the Green Gardens hike (it would be my first choice) & there’s a short version (9 kms return) and a longer version. I haven’t done it but by all reports it will be excellent. There was some damage but that was years ago now. Check in with the park but I think the short version might be just the thing.

  • Christine says:

    Hi there!

    I will be visiting Newfoundland at the end of August with my boyfriend and would love to hike to the summit! Are there any tips and tricks to this trail – I’ve seen other posts online saying you must take a guided tour unless you have a back country pass. And that you have to take a boat to the trail (or else the parking lot is over 20km away)??

    I’d appreciate any insight! I like your post! :)

    Thanks!

    • @Christine The hike to the summit of Gros Morne Mountain DOES NOT require a boat ride. The one that does is at the end of Western Brook Pond – and you can take a guided hike to get the classic view down the fjord. (see this post for the kind of scenery you get – https://www.hikebiketravel.com/31904/backpacking-the-long-range-traverse-in-gros-morne-np-day-1/)
      Gros Morne Mountain is usually done as a loop hike – up some steep stuff at the beginning, a wander along the top angling down to get great views of a fjord, down steep stairs and then a long section that partially involves retracing your steps. You definitely want to bring a lot of water on this hike.

  • Arthur says:

    This is an inspiring and well done description of the Long Traverse. I am now adding Newfoundland to my long list of trips that I hope to do some day. Nice photographs! If I do attempt the Long Traverse, I wonder if it would be wise to hire a local guide.

  • Rob Hopkins says:

    Once you hike from the parking lot up the 4km gully, how far/long until you reach the ferry gulch campsite? We are planning a trip in June, and unfortunately don’t know if we will have time to make it all the way to summit. Is there a safer stopping point to reach and get back to the parking lot in 6 hours?

    • @Rob You aren’t allowed to climb Gros Morne Mountain until the beginning of July. I’m assuming you’re talking about going up Gros Morne Mountain on the steep route and then doing a loop to return past the campsite in one day. It’s easily 6 hours – especially with photo stops, maybe even 7-8 depending on your walking speed. And no there aren’t other great places to camp.

  • Andrea says:

    Thanks for the excellent write up. We’re planning a family trip to Gros Morne in mid-July. My husband and I are fairly experienced hikers and he’s familiar with backcountry navigation. We went to Katahdin last year and the kids did fine with a fairly steep 1400′ day hike. We’re planning on taking them for a overnight trip to Gros Morne mountain. Our plan would be to backpack to Ferry Gulch and climb Gros Morne the next day taking our time. Is there a lower age restriction for backpacking at Gros Morne? Also, how hard is it to reserve campsites at Ferry Gulch?

    • @Andrea I don’t believe there is an age restriction and from Ferry Gulch up and down it should be very doable – especially so if you spend two nights at Ferry Gulch. I’d book campsites through Gros Morne National Park asap since this summer they are expecting record numbers in all parks with the free admittance. Visit this page – http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/voyage-travel/reserve.

      • Andrea says:

        Thanks for the link. Looks like the backcountry campgrounds are first come, first serve.

        Would the first day of the traverse (https://www.hikebiketravel.com/31904/backpacking-the-long-range-traverse-in-gros-morne-np-day-1/) and back – just going to the top of the gorge, camping for two nights and returning, be something that can be done with children? You’d mentioned that the elevation gain was about 2000 feet. Is it feasible to come back down the gorge?

      • @Andrea That’s one heck of a up and down – feasible if your kids are in great shape. The parks people had made an exception when we did the traverse and we were able to camp about 40 minutes above the gorge where we wanted. It was completely awesome. But I’m not sure if they’d still allow that or if you’d have to continue to the first real campsite which was so-so.
        They may still want you to take the navigation test.And you’d have to arrange with the shuttle to pick you up at the right time.

  • jennifer lundrigan says:

    Great read, thanks! I’ll be heading to Gros Morne in early September for my first time and I am very torn over where to set up camp. The reservable campgrounds themselves don’t appeal to me but I’m a little fearful that all the primitive sites will be occupied when we arrive! How far of a hike from the ferry dock are the ferry gulch campsites, do you recall? Any other suggestions on primitive sites?

    • Leigh says:

      @Jennifer Ferry Gulch was actually quite a nice campsite. From there to the summit it would probably take a couple of hours. You could camp there one night – and then do and up and down, perhaps take down your tent and continue walking out OR stay a 2nd night. September might not be as busy.

  • Debra says:

    When does the trail to the summit close for the season

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