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The Top 10 Outdoor Adventures in Newfoundland

Newfoundland is a phenomenal province to visit for outdoor adventures. Not only is the scenery exceptional, especially along the coast and in Gros Morne National Park, but the people are so friendly and welcoming that they are reason enough to go.

Over a couple of summers, I have spent almost a month in Newfoundland. Here are what I think are the top 10 outdoor adventures – not including fishing, whale watching or diving.

#1 Hike or Backpack the East Coast Trail

Running from Cape St. Francis in the north to Cappahayden in the south, the East Coast Trail offers 265 kms of rugged coastal scenery via a series of 24 connected paths, each with its own northern and southern trailhead. Along the length of the trail you are treated to fjords, cliffs, headlands and sea stacks. You hike past Cape Spear, the most easterly point in Canada and with luck, and depending on the time of year, you’ll see icebergs and whales. Lighthouses, ecological reserves, abandoned settlements and wildlife encounters are also in the cards.

Along the Sugarloaf Path - East Coast Trail

Along the Sugarloaf Path – East Coast Trail

You can hike sections individually or you can take 10-14 days and hike the whole trail. Join a scheduled day hike led by a member of the East Coast Trail if you’re just visiting St. John’s for a few days.

Read: Hiking the Sugarloaf Path on the East Coast Trail, Newfoundland

#2 Hike the Skerwink Trail

Located on the Bonavista Peninsula, the 5.3 km Skerwink Trail follows the north and south coasts of Skerwink Head, a beautiful peninsula separating Port Rexton from Trinity Harbour. According to John Vivian, the founder of the trail, it offers more scenery per linear foot than any other trail in Newfoundland. It’s best hiked in a clockwise direction so you can take advantage of the views of Trinity Harbour as you hike south from Skerwink Head.

Hiking the Skerwink Trail near Trinity, Newfoundland

Hiking the Skerwink Trail near Trinity, Newfoundland

#3 Cycle the Viking Trail

Starting in Deer Lake and finishing in St. Anthony’s near the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula, the challenging 600 km Viking Trail takes you by road along the rocky, barren coast through a series of sparsely populated but picturesque fishing villages. Allow a week to do it but if you have time, add another two days – for a side trip to Labrador and a visit to L’Anse aux Meadows, a UNESCO site. For yet another diversion, take the super scenic boat ride on Western Brook Pond in Gros Morne National Park.

Settlement near L'Anse aux Meadows

Settlement near L’Anse aux Meadows

#4 Kayak with Icebergs in the Twillingate area

Twillingate is one of the few towns in Newfoundland where iceberg viewing and kayaking come together. The peak viewing time is late June though the number of icebergs varies greatly from year to year. Hire a guide for a safe experience – and revel in the majesty and the beauty of these behemoths as you approach at eye level. Keep a respectable distance away – either twice the height or the length of the iceberg.

Read: Kayaking in Iceberg Alley, Twillingate, Newfoundland

June is the best time to kayak with icebergs in the Twillingate area

June is the best time to kayak with icebergs in the Twillingate area

#5 Hike the Coastal Trail in Terra Nova National Park

Although Terra Nova National Park lacks the grandeur of Gros Morne National Park, it does offer the chance to see the Boreal forest where it meets the North Atlantic Ocean. With over 100 kms of trails, you can choose from short strolls to an epic 48 km backpacking trip. But for a taste of ocean and forest, you’d do well to choose the 9 km Coastal Trail. It can be completed in half a day, but you might find yourself lounging on a beach and getting back to the trailhead later than expected.

Hiking the easy Coastal Trail in Terra Nova National Park

Hiking the easy Coastal Trail in Terra Nova National Park

#6 Hike to the summit of Gros Morne Mountain

If you only have time for one hike in Gros Morne National Park and you’re fit then hike to the summit of Gros Morne Mountain. You will be rewarded with stupendous views of Ten Mile Brook Pond, the Long Range Mountains and Bonne Bay. To reach the summit, you must hike for the better part of four hours, and climb 800 m (2, 2625 ft). The return is no picnic either. But for incomparable views and the chance to stand on the second highest peak in Newfoundland at 806 m (2,644 ft), it’s well worth the effort.

Read: A Hike to the Summit of Gros Morne Mountain in Newfoundland 

Views over to the Long Range Traverse from Gros Morne Mountain

Views over to the Long Range Traverse from Gros Morne Mountain

#6 Kayak the fjord of Bonne Bay 

Hopping in a kayak and exploring the fjords of Bonne Bay in Gros Morne National Park is another great half day adventure. Either rent kayaks and explore on your own if you’ve got the experience or join a guided tour with Gros Morne Adventures. Keep an eye out for minke whales and bald eagles, both of which I saw on one occasion.

Kayaks ready to go at Norris Point in Gros Morne National Park

Kayaks ready to go at Norris Point in Gros Morne National Park

#7 Hike the Alexander Murray Trail

Considered one of Newfoundland’s best kept secrets, the Alexander Murray Trail in King’s Point takes you on an 8 km roundtrip hike that includes 2,200 stairs and an elevation gain of 335 m (1100 ft). It’s well marked and maintained. Don’t miss the descent to Corner Brook Gorge and waterfall, especially on a hot day. The summit offers exceptional views of the surrounding area. In fact on a clear day in late June you may even see icebergs in the distance.

Some of the 2,200 stairs on the Alexander Murray Trail in Newfoundland

Some of the 2,200 stairs on the Alexander Murray Trail

#8 Backpack the Long Range Traverse

If you’ve ever seen a print ad from Newfoundland Tourism, then there’s a good chance it’s a photo taken at the top of the gorge – and exactly what you’ll see on the first day of the Long Range Traverse. This challenging backpacking trip – that requires a navigation test – takes you over the course of 3 – 5 days through world-class scenery that includes phenomenal views of fjords, a disorienting landscape of tuckamore (impenetrable small trees), numerous rock covered plateaus, rolling hills that are too numerous to count and plenty of lakes, ponds, streams and rivers. You’ll probably see moose and caribou and perhaps even a black bear.

Read: Backpacking the Long Range Traverse in Gros Morne NP: Day 1

At the top of the gorge on the Long Range Traverse, Newfoundland

At the top of the gorge on the Long Range Traverse

#9 Kayak in Witless Bay

Kayak around the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve where you can experience the rugged coastline of Newfoundland complete with puffins, whales and even icebergs in season. Stan Cook Adventures is the operator in the area.

One of the big icebergs seen near Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

One of the big icebergs seen near Witless Bay Ecological Reserve

#10 Hike the Brimstone Head Trail (and The Heads Trail), Fogo Island

It’s worth a trip to Fogo Island for a lot of reasons – with rocky hiking just one of them. Don’t miss the hike to Brimstone Head – one of the four corners of the world according to the Flat Earth Society. It’s short and sweet but the views are terrific and it’s easy to combine it with other loop trails in the area. Another excellent choice is the 8.5 kilometer Turpin’s Trail in Tilting that takes you by the first ground radar station in North America. Don’t forget your rain gear.

Read: What to do on a trip to Fogo Island, Newfoundland

Hiking to the edge of the Flat Earth, Fogo Island

Hiking to the edge of the Flat Earth, Fogo Island

There are many more hiking opportunities around the province, particularly in the Corner Brook area from what I’ve heard though I’ve yet to visit. If I owned my own kayak I’d grab some charts and head off to explore some of the protected waters near Twillingate where I think there’s some magical kayaking waiting to be discovered.

If you’ve got more suggestions or links to blogs on adventures in Newfoundland you’ve done please leave a comment. Which adventure would you most like to do?

Newfoundland is truly an adventurer’s paradise.

Other posts you might enjoy:

The top 10 outdoor adventures in Newfoundland

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
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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 25 Comments

  • Rouven | yarnsofwhalesandsnow.com says:

    Thanks, those are some great tips. I hope to visit Newfoundland next summer and each of your ten suggestions looks great.

  • Brittany says:

    The Green Gardens hike is amazing. I have done most of the hikes in Gros Morne and Green Gardens is definitely my favourite! It’s a bit of a challenging hike (9-16km I think depending which entrance you start from) and has the most breathtaking views! It’s located in the tableands in Gros Morne National Park. I would definitely add it to your list!

  • Bert Foote says:

    These are all great. But for a simpler time I like strolling along the beach at the end of Chaytor’s Road in Chamberlains to the bottom of the Manuel’s river trail then walking up the trail for a pleasant dip in the pockets of water in the falls below the bridge and then continue on up the river as far as you can. Then simply return with some sunning on the rocks of the falls and a bon fire on the beach.

  • Dave Kests says:

    Table mountain tours are awesome, come check it out.

  • Susan says:

    The Egdar Baird trail along Gander Lake in Central NL is quite good. It’s about 7km round trip and hugs the rugged shores of the 26 mile long Gander Lake which is one of the deepest lakes in North America! There are spots to get down on the rocky shores of the lake and the view is beautiful.

  • Dana Warren says:

    Thanks. As a Newfoundlander it was fabulous to see how many of these top ten’s I’ve done. This summer I am walking the T’railway across the island of Newfoundland, a first for a woman I think. It is 883km through some beautiful terrain,rivers and mountain ranges. It passes through over 40 communities. A friend of mine (the slow biker) recently did the trail on fat tires…what a trip…so much to do here outside!!

    • @Lee I know that there is a huge group that loves snowmobiling but it’s really not my thing so it’s not something I blog about. Bit I’ll leave the links in there in case some of my readers are interested.

      • Lee White says:

        Thanks,
        Snowmobiling is not for everyone, and definitely requires a bit more investment in terms of time and money. But touring in the winter time, especially in Labrador, is the best adventure you can have, in my opinion.

  • Jayne Finn says:

    We are sailing around Newfoundland and have made a number of these hikes…it’s a fabulous place for outdoor activities!

  • Bill Carter says:

    Don’t forget the South Coast! This area offers a unique coastal, rural NL tourism experience. Lots of sightseeing, walking trails. Scenery is spectacular! The fiords are absolutely amazing. Call us at The Southern Port Hotel in Harbour Breton and we’ll recommend a tour that takes you along the coast with lots to do and see. 709-885-2283.

  • Cathy says:

    I wouldn’t be able to pick just one:) I really want to kayak with icebergs but I’d need to do at least one hike too! Newfoundland is #1 wish list for Frank- I’m hoping to make the trip happen in 2018. Thank you for the must see list!

  • Narine says:

    I absolutely love all of these!. One question though, I’m planning on traveling solo to the Canadian east coast, including New Foundland and Nova Scotia in the summer. Do you have any suggestions of travel companies that specialize / guide local hiking and kayaking trips?

    • @Narine You can join an East Coast Trail hike on the weekend by contacting them and signing a waiver. They arrange car pools from St. John’s. I’m not much good on the kayaking end of things.

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