Northern Peninsula | Newfoundland

Northern Peninsula Viking Trail Cycle Route

Make your way to the Deer Lake Motel, on the TransCanada Highway # 1, at the Viking Trail, Highway 430 intersection, only 1 km from Deer Lake Airport

Day 1 | 70 km

Ride from the Deer Lake Motel to Wiltondale and then along the south shore of Bonne Bay to Woody Point in Gros Morne National Park.  This first day is the hilliest we will encounter on the whole trip but it is a net downhill to the coast.   

Day 2 | Your choice! - 10 km, 20 km, 45 km or 75 km of hills

Today you can spend exploring Gros Morne National Park by bicycle or on foot or, if you choose, you can just enjoy the shops, trails and shoreline of the little town of Woody Point.  You may choose to bike (10 km return) and hike the Tablelands Trail (4 km return), which crosses an area where the earth’s mantle has been thrust to the surface, where no plants grow and that looks like the set of an old Western movie.  If you prefer more cycling, you can ride to the town of Trout River for lunch (35 km return) and have the option of hiking the spectacular Green Gardens Trail to the coast (9 km return).  For a longer ride you can cycle 75 km over challenging hills to our next destination, Rocky Harbour, on the north shore of Bonne Bay.  For those still on the south shore at 5:30 pm we will take a water taxi across Bonne Bay and then ride up and down the hill into Rocky Harbour (10 km) where we will spend the night.

Day 3 | 50 km

The next leg of our trip takes us to Western Brook Pond for a boat trip into this land-locked fjord.  Along the way to Western Brook Pond, two interesting places to visit are the Lobster Cove Lighthouse and the remains of the coastal steamer, the SS Ethie, shipwrecked in 1919.  After the boat trip, we will ride to Cow Head where we can enjoy a show put on by the Gros Morne Theatre Festival and then spend the night.

Day 4 | 105 km

Today is a longer ride with interesting things to see along the way.  At The Arches Provincial Park you can find limestone sea arches pushed up above sea level and at Table Point Ecological Reserve you can see trilobite fossils.  Tonight we stay near the Torrent River at Hawkes Bay.  If you have any energy left, the Hogan Trail boardwalk nearby will lead you along the shore of a salmon river.

Day 5 | 24 km

This morning we have short ride to reach Port aux Choix.  Here there are lots of interesting things to see - a lighthouse, a 45 foot long whale skeleton, a burial site of Archaic Maritime Indians (from 5000 years ago) and a hike over land once settled by Dorset Paleoeskimos (from 1500 years ago).  We spend the night here in Port aux Choix.

Day 6 | 94 km

The route for today travels along a remote area of the coast, lined with fishing villages, some of them deserted and with few services.  We will stay the night at St. Barbe.

Day 7 | 105 km

Enroute today is the chance to learn about the Newfoundland tradition of winterhousing (moving a whole community away from the unprotected coast for the winter) and to observe the strange rock formations called thrombolites, or living rocks.  We stay the night at the Wildberry Inn, an isolated country inn.

Day 8 | 48 km

We will reach the northernmost part of Newfoundland today. L’Anse aux Meadows, where the Vikings led by Leif Erikson set up a community 1000 years ago, is the only authenticated Viking landing site in North America.  We will explore this site and trails and stay the night nearby.

Day 9 | 42 km

Our ride today brings us to Raleigh Historical Premises on HaHa Bay where we will live for a time as a fisherman of the 1940’s might have lived.  Nearby is Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve, a unique habitat called limestone barrens and the home of many rare and threatened plants as well as unusual geological features.

Day 10 | 0 km

We have the day to experience this area with a boat tour on a Newfoundland trap skiff, a chance to learn a traditional craft such as rug hooking, time to row a boat out onto the bay or the opportunity to tour Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve

Day 11 | 32 km or 60 km with a side tour into St. Anthony

St. Anthony is the only major town on the northern peninsula.  It is not large but there are some interesting sites to see and things to do as well as stores and restaurants to visit.  Grenfell Historical Properties tell the story of Dr. Grenfell who was the first medical presence in the northern peninsula and the only one from the late 1880’s until around 1930.  At the tip of the peninsula you will find Fishing Point, a beautiful place with a lighthouse and scenic hikes including one that climbs 550 feet up the side of the cliff on boardwalk and stairs to give you an astounding view of St. Anthony and the area.  Those that want to can explore St. Anthony; those that want a shorter ride can skip the St. Anthony side tour and make their way directly back to the Wildberry Inn where we stayed on our way north.

Day 12 | 108 km

Our goal today is to reach Roddickton.  Along the way is the mysterious Underground Salmon Pool which can be explored by a series of boardwalks and trails.

Day 13 | 20 km by bike, 70 km by boat

Englee is the last town on the highway along the eastern coast of the northern peninsula and is just 20 km further south from Roddickton.  Here we will meet a fisherman and his boat who will transport us to Harbour Deep, previously a busy fishing community but now virtually empty after it was resettled in 2002.  Along the way we may see whales, dolphins, sea birds and possibly visit an abandoned whaling station.  We will stay at the inn in Harbour Deep.

Day 14 | 0 km by bike, 80 km by boat, optional 15 km by bike

Our fisherman will take us the rest of the way to Jackson’s Arm where we will encounter roads again.  Here we can be picked up by our support vehicle and transported back to Deer Lake airport.  Those who have the time and the desire can ride to Pollard’s Point (15 km) to spend the night and then ride back to Deer Lake on Saturday.

Day 15 | Optional 100 km by bike

Ride south to the TransCanada Highway #1 and back to our starting point in Deer Lake.

Day 3 | 50 km

Today would be a good day to pack a lunch as there is not an abundance of eating establishments on route, except for a small place called the Snack Shack, and the snack bar at Western Brook Pond dock.

Overview : Today’s total -  50 km – Ride from Rocky Harbour to Cow Head along Route 430, with visits along the way to Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse, SS Ethie shipwreck site and a boat tour of Western Brook Pond

Note:  If you want to explore Lobster Cove Head, be sure to leave Rocky Harbour early enough to give yourself lots of time to be at Western Brook Pond trailhead by 12 noon (probably try to be on the road by 8 am)

Landmarks along the route:

When you leave the cabins, continue along Main Road out of Rocky Harbour.

2.5 km – Hiking trail to Rocky Hill Lookout

3.5 km – Driveway to Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse.  It is 0.5 km into the lighthouse and the lightkeeper’s house is open to visit.  This light tower still marks the marine approach to Rocky Harbour and the entrance to Bonne Bay as it has done since 1897.  Short paths lead to spectacular viewpoints and stairs provide access to the shore.  There is a 2 km loop trail to the shoreline and along the coastal cliffs.  Tidal pools here are excellent for exploring at low tide.

4 km – Turn left back onto Route 430, heading towards Cow Head.

7 km – pass Berry Head Pond trailhead – this trail is 2 km long and is a boardwalk encircling a pond and traveling through forest and bog

10 km – pass Bakers Brook Picnic area

18 km – pass Sally’s Cove entrance.  Stone beach

19.5 km – Snack Shack  (subs, sandwiches, fish and chips, ice cream)

24 km – SS Ethie shipwreck site.  This is worth seeing and is only steps away from the road.   The S.S. Ethie coastal steamship ran aground in a fierce storm in 1919 at Martin’s Point, a few kilometers north of Sally’s Cove.  A Newfoundland dog, owned by a local fisherman is credited in saving the lives of all 82 passengers and crew.  The dog carried a rope to the stricken ship which allowed the rescue to commence in spite of the storm raging around them.  Even a baby was saved, sent ashore in a mailbag.  The sea has eroded most of the S.S. Ethie, but a few pieces of the hull, boilers and engines are visible from the shore.  

You should be here by 12 noon at the latest

27 km – Western Brook Pond parking lot.   Our boat tour leaves at 1:00 pm.  There is a 4 km, 45 minute hike in on boardwalk and wide, level graveled trail.  It is always cooler on the fjord so be sure to bring your jacket.  There are washroom facilities at the parking lot and at the start of the boat tour.  There is a small snack bar at the boat dock area as well.

After the boat tour, we hike back out to the parking lot.  We should be back on the road by 4 pm

Continue along Route 430, the Viking Trail.

32 km – pass Western Brook picnic area with washrooms

34 km – Broom Point Fishing Exhibit.  There are washrooms here as well!

Broom Point was a summer fishing residence for the three Mudge brothers and their families from 1941 until 1975.  Here you can meet the fishermen who work in the restored family cabin and fish store and learn about the inshore fishery of the past, the present, and the future.  Boats built by the Mudges are exhibited in the fish store alongside nets, traps and other home-made gear.  The cabin is filled with original artifacts, including handiwork and furniture donated by the family.  In a small cove just south of the point there is a cemetery where some of the earlier residents of Broom Point are buried.  

38.5 km – Restaurant (Wings and Tings), small grocery store

41 km – Gros Morne Resort with restaurant and golf course

44.5 km – turn left toward the town of Cow Head.  It is said that Jacques Cartier, the French explorer and navigator, anchored at nearby Cow Cove in 1534.

49 km – café and diner

49.5 km – small supermarket, post office, Henry N. Payne Community Museum.

50 km – Our hotel for the night and the Warehouse Theatre.  

This hotel has a pool and a hot tub.

The Henry N. Payne Community Museum depicts life in this 198 year old fishing outport through a variety of historical relics, from pre-contact Aboriginal artifacts to tools essential to early life in a fishing outport.

There is a hike to the historic “Head”, magnificent white sandy beaches on Shallow Bay and native flowers at St. Mary’s Anglican Church Botanical Gardens.

About ½ km past the motel is a variety store.

Tonight we will be entertained at the Gros Morne Theatre Festival by “The Sharecroppers”, a Newfoundland folk trio whose songs celebrate the history and culture of Newfoundland.  They have been playing together for 23 years and perform regularly all over Newfoundland.  They have also represented Newfoundland in Seoul, Korea, played at the “International Festival of the Sea” in Bristol, England  and entertained at the “500th Anniversary of John Cabot’s Discovery” in Bonavista with Queen Elizabeth in attendance.   They have been named HOSPITALITY NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR's BEST TOURISM AMBASSADORS for the West Coast of Newfoundland.  Your seats are prepaid.  The show will take place in the Ethie Room of Shallow Bay Motel at 8:30 pm which should give us lots of time to arrive at Cow Head and get something to eat before showtime.

SALLY’S COVE is believed to be named after Sally Short, who loaded her children and herself in a boat and left her husband, only to be shipwrecked here and forced to take shelter in the cove .  One of the first settlers here was Richard Gilley.  Most settlers came from Woody Point and probably fished in the area for years before settling here.  The first census taken was in 1884, with a population of 9.  By 1891, the population was 30 and by 1901 it was 59.  In 1954 a road was built to the community.  In 1976 the population was 188 and in 1981 it had declined to 100.  When Gros Morne National Park was established, Sally’s Cove was designated as a park community and was to be resettled.  Some residents refused to move, even though there was official encouragement and restrictions on building, selling and inheriting homes.  By the late 1980s these restrictions were removed and Sally’s Cove became a park enclave community.  Today Sally’s Cove is noted for its lobster fishery and brightly coloured fishing sheds that hug the pebble beach shoreline.  Sally’s Cove played a prominent role in saving the lives of the shipwrecked passengers and crew aboard the S.S. Ethie.  

SHALLOW BAY , about 1 km north of the community of Cow Head, is a good swimming area, with shallow warm water and a sand dune beach.  To find Shallow Bay, travel about 1 km further down the road from the Shallow Bay Motel.  Follow the road to Shallow Bay campground and the trail to the swimming area will be found along this road.  The beach’s backshore dunes have been planted with dune grasses to help prevent erosion.  Just behind the sand dunes you can find the Old Mail Road Trail, a 4 km trail that travels along the old winter mail road.  It runs parallel to the shore but in the shelter of dense coastal forest.