Although almost dangerously simplistic, Gros Morne is best described by one word and that’s “wow”. Although you could throw in a lot of accurate descriptions; beautiful, breathtaking, incredible, etc. I chose ‘wow’ because this is the one word that naturally slips from one’s mouth while you get closer and closer to the vast landscapes of mountains, iconic oceanside towns, rivers and lakes, and endless amounts of tall lush forests.
It’s hard to really know what people expect of Newfoundland’s landscapes, but between my first visit years ago and my accomplice’s visit this time around we both couldn’t help, almost guiltingly, admit that we were both surprised by the vast landscapes ahead of us. It’s not that we didn’t know Newfoundland was beautiful, or that it has amazing landscapes, but we just didn’t know the actual extent of its beauty. It’s hard to really expect the actual heights of the mountains, the shades of the blue water, or the amounts of countless rivers and different species of trees.
Gros Morne is a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the west coast of Newfoundland and one of Newfoundland’s most popular destinations. The park is 1,805 km2 and is a member of the Long Range Mountains, an outlying range of the Appalachian Mountains, stretching the length of the island's west coast. The park is home to countless amounts of moose, caribou and other wildlife, and the opportunities to spot them are numerous through the 20 plus day trip hiking trails.
Although the original plan was to hike the iconic Gros Morne mountain we showed up to realize that it’s currently closed as arctic hare, rock ptarmigan, and caribou are raising their young and the animals need a disturbance free environment and, in addition, the terrain needs protection as soils that are wet and frost heaved are easily eroded at this time of year. Although slightly disappointing to not be able to climb the mountain, the above reasons are not only 100% valid but also extremely supported by this project! Besides, there’s countless other beautiful hikes in the area such as the Bakers Brook Falls trail that we happily enjoyed on our first day there.
Bakers Brook Trail is an easy, two hour hike that takes you in and out of various landscapes and to an epic series of three waterfalls closer to the mountain range of the park. The trail itself is extremely well maintained and absolutely littered with moose footprints (although, none were in sight at the time). Interestingly, the trail also houses a moose EXclosure which is something I have not seen before. If curious, an exclosure (not an ENclosure as I originally anticipated) is a fenced off area that does not allow the moose into it so that the natural habitat can grow and the typically picked off vegetation within the mooses diet can not be eaten so that visitors can explore the different plants that would normally be hard to find due to the vast number of moose in the area.
On our first morning we thought we would hike our own trail along the coasts by our campsite. The ‘trail’ took us along the beautiful stone beach, through a small fishing village, and along some beautiful stone cliffs. To me this is one of the best ways to start your day, by ‘poking around’ unfamiliar terrain, breathing in the fresh salty air beside the ocean, and exploring the countless amounts of little shells, stones, and sea life that wash up on the shores.
Unfortunately, along with the natural interests that washed up also came the trash that has sadly become a regular sight along any coasts I have seen worldwide. Seeing the variety of trash never ceases to sadden me as I can only imagine the quantities along the coasts of areas that have not been protected and maintained by a national park status. From there, I can only be thankful that Canada has acknowledged the importance of these amazing landscapes.
And, speaking of importance of landscapes, I recently discovered a petition created by CPAWS to permanently expand the borders of Gros Morne to protect against the threat of fracking and oil drilling. It came close back in 2013, but was fortunately stopped by the up-cry of local residences but, as the recent oil pipeline agreement can remind, these threats rarely go away. So, lets sign that petition and permanently make sure those fracking machines can’t get close to the beauty of Gros Morne.
Sign Here: https://cpawsnl.org/save-gros-morne-national-park/