Celebrating Our 50+ Years
Having dated in high school, we married in June 1967, Canada's Centennial Year. By January 2017 we had been active volunteers for a few organizations for several years, both during the working phase of our careers and in our recent retirement. Hiking became one of our favourite activities that we did together. It included the hiking itself plus helping in other capacities (e.g. trail maintenance, map production, newsletter, Jan serving on the Board and so on). I became a certified hike leader.
By 2017 we had hiked the whole Bruce Trail, the Avon Trail and the Grand Valley Trail in Ontario and had done some short walks while visiting British Columbia. We were fortunate to have attended personalized hiking trips to various locations in the United Kingdom (e.g. hiking across Scotland) and back-packed for two weeks in the Katannilik Territorial Park (Soper Heritage River valley), on Baffin Island, Nunavut. Hikng friends had been to various parts of Newfoundland. Some had stayed at the Brown Rabbit Cabins, Beachy Cove Road, Tors Cove and enjoyed the experience with hosts Bill and Isabella. We decided to walk a few of the shorter and easier parts of the East Coast Trail and celebrate our 50th anniversary. We had a wonderful experience and it is our hope to return and see other parts of the province.
Travel to Brown Rabbit Cabins 2017 JUN 20
From Toronto we flew to St. John's where Bill picked us up at the airport and drove us to Tors Cove where we settled into our individual cabin. A group of hikers was staying at the Brown Rabbit Cabins [47.211438, -52.896967 | Google Street View] and had been doing some hikes on the East Coast Trail. The group leader invited us to join them the next day and do the Cape Spear Path. Bill was very helpful and suggested that the Cape Spear Path might be what we would prefer; not too long and fairly level. Bill was right.
1) Be aware that cell phones may not
work in some locations. And cell phone service varies
depending on your service provider. For example, our
cell phone service is with Rogers and it worked at St.
John's airport and in St. John's. Our cell service did
not work outside of the city. Local folks suggested we
needed Bell service.
2) We did not rent a car but the word is that if you want to rent a car it is best to book the vehicle about a year ahead. Also, if you want to rent a car with pick up at the St. John's airport and then drop off at Deer Lake or Gander airport, at the end of your excursion, good luck. First, there are very few cars available for that purpose and if you were to get one the cost is hefty.
3) Having a copy of the East Coast Trail map-set is recommended. A hiking friend loaned us her copy and we were happy to have it. We tried to buy an updated copy when we were in St. John's but the new edition had not been sent to any of the retail stores yet. You may wish to buy it online > East Coast Trail Association website.
4) Assuming you are new to the East Coast Trail, be aware that the trail is divided into Paths. Each Path has a name, a length and a rated degree of difficulty. The East Coast Trail Association has that information online. Here is a PDF summary of the Paths I prepared.
Cape Spear Path 2017 JUN 21
The Cape Spear Path stretches from the Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site to Maddox Cove, a distance of about 10 km or 12 km dependiong on whether you walk the North Head side trail. We walked this segment from Maddox to Cape Spear. We found it easy and mostly level walk. We did experience some forested hills in the first portion of the walk as we headed away from Maddox. We were blessed with sunny weather. There are numerous boardwalks along the way. Keep your eyes open for insectivorous (carnivorous) pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea L.) that grow in the boggy (acidic) spots. The pitcher plant was adopted as the floral emblem for Newfoundland and Labrador in 1954.
The trail head sign in the picture below is located in Maddox Cove at approximately 47.472415, -52.697948. Parts of the Cape Spear Path have been walked by someone from Google hence the availability of the street view. Here is a link to the Google Maps Street View > zoom in and out and rotate the street view.
Approximately 4.6 km from Maddox one reaches Chimney Cove. Between Chimney Cove and Dollar Cove is the area that my research suggests is the location of the old ghost village called Staffordside (47.487270, -52.652490). That old ghost village area is about 1.0 to 1.3 km before you reach the North Head side trail at coordinates 47.49151, -52.63896. Don't expect to see too much (if any) evidence of occupation, unless you have the trained eye of an archaeologist. As you leave this low area you will gradually climb a long boardwalk to the junction of the North Head side trail. Remember, we were walking toward Cape Spear.
Special Note > It appears that Google Maps Street View works for part of the Cape Spear Path. If you are familiar with how to use Google Maps Street View, go to about 47.489499, -52.642827 and zoom in. If you are in satellite view, you will see the dashed line representing the Cape Spear Path. Right click on the dashed line, select "What's here?" in the drop-down menu and open Google "street view" (bottom centre of screen). Try this link for street view (or trail view). If this works for you, you will be able to move around in street view and you should be able to see the worn path and the long, gradual boardwalk up to the North Head side trail.
Our finish at Cape Spear was very interesting. Apparently Cape Spear National Park is the most easterly point in North America. There are a couple of lighthouses and one of them can be visited. There are military bunkers and gun emplacements to experience.
Beaches Path 2017 JUN 22 <> Tinkers Point Path 2017 JUN 24 <> Mickeleens Path 2017 JUN 26
Some online references to these three fairly easy
paths plus one map for all three of them appear below.
Beaches Path > Reference 01 <> Reference 02 <> Reference 03.
Tinkers Point Path > Reference 01 <> Reference 02 <> Reference 03.
Mickeleens Path > Reference 01 <> Reference 02 <> Reference 03.
bottom left image represents our 50 years married
Ferryland 2017 JUN 23
Ferryland (The Irish heart of Newfoundland and Labrador.) was on our agenda. We did not walk the East Coast Trail paths in the Ferryland area. Bill drove us to Ferryland where we spent a good part of the day visiting the Colony of Avalon < recommened reading. We paid for a walking tour of the labs and the dig sites. Our tour guide was a local young woman and law student and her knowledge of the archaeological excavation was excellent. As you can see map below we walked out to the lighthouse where we enjoyed our packed lunch supplied by the Brown Rabbit Cabins. Reference: Introduction to the History of Ferryland
St. John's and Area 2017 JUN 26
Bill drove us to St. John's & dropped us at our B&B. We spent our last three days exploring the city and area either by foot or using the local inexpensive transit. We visted places like The Rooms [Google Maps Street View] (9 Bonaventure Ave) that is a cultural building constructed on a hill overlooking the port city, at a historic location once occupied by Fort Townshend. We made good use of the St. John's Trolley service. In 2017 the trolley service cost was $5/day/person and you could get on and off all day. It follows a tourist circuit including Signal Hill if you decide not to walk to Signal Hill. Some of the areas where we walked are shown in the Google Maps image below. When up in the Signal Hill area (and at the Signal Hill National Historic Site) there are great views of The Narrows which is the term for the entrance to the St. John's harbour.
GPS Tracks for Download
MaddoxToCapeSpear.gpx <> MaddoxToCapeSpear.kml
Beaches+Mickeleens+TinkersPoint Paths.gpx <> Beaches+Mickeleens+TinkersPoint Paths.kml
Ferryland.gpx <> Ferryland.kml
St. John's Area.gpx <> St. John's Area.kml
SpoutPath.gpx GPX only (provided by another hiker)