You are in for a treat should you be lucky enough to hike the Sugarloaf Path – an 8.9 kilometre section of the East Coast Trail near St. John’s Newfoundland.
The East Coast Trail, if you’ve never heard of it, runs for 265 kilometers along the eastern coast of Newfoundland from Cape St. Francis in the north to Cappahayden in the south. Some people hike the whole trail over 10-14 days but many people – especially local people aim to hike the whole trail over the course of a summer or even years by hiking it section by section. I managed to do a couple of sections of the trail over a few days while based in St. John’s.
The Sugarloaf Path starts at the Ocean Sciences Center in Logy Bay – just a 10 to 15 minute drive from downtown St. John’s so it’s easily accessible by taxi as a one way day trip from the city.
This section of the trail is a standout for coastal scenery from start to finish, and even more so when I was there since there were a couple of icebergs floating just outside of St. John’s Harbour. The trail is rated as difficult by the East Coast Trail Association because of more than 150 meters of elevation gain. I would call it a moderate hike based on what I normally do. They suggest allowing 3 – 5 hours to complete the hike which when reading the description seemed excessive.
But it’s not.
The path has its fair share of ups and downs so paying attention to your footing is important. And if you have any interest in photography or flora then there are plenty of reasons to stop – and just stare out to sea.
We were in Quidi Vidi Village approximately four hours after starting with a nice long break for lunch. The trail is extremely well marked and the only negative is the fact that you must pass close to the Robin Hood Bay Sanitary Landfill – the city dump. There is no smell but there is a bit of wind blown garbage which volunteers try to clean up regularly.
To return to St. John’s we had a couple of options: hitchhike, take Metro bus 15 that operates about every 30 minutes, seven days a week or walk back. We chose to walk back and I’m so glad we did. It took about an hour and added about four kilometers to the day. Simply walk up Stone Road, accessed from the road to the Quidi Vidi Brewing Company (it won’t take you long to figure that out). Look for the sign saying Cuckold Cove Trail and follow it up. In about 20 minutes you’ll arrive at the top of Signal Hill. But before arriving, you’ll pass by a massive bald eagle’s nest with two babies that are now six weeks old. There’s one photographer – Wayne Norman – who has been documenting their lives since hatching. Check him out on Flickr. After admiring the views from the top of Signal Hill we wandered down the road and walked right to our B&B.
It was a perfect day.
Have you hiked any sections of the East Coast Trail?