Labrador Pioneer Footpath on South Labrador Coast

Author: [ trailpeak ]   Contact Author: trailpeakMon Aug 22 20:20:42 UTC 2011

Team Trailpeak consisting of two editors, Kurt and Jodie, took to the Southern Labrador Coastal Region for seven days of hiking and walking along the Labrador Pioneer Footpath.

The appeal is simple. It's pristine and uncrowded (30,000 people live in all of Labrador), it features coastal treks from B&B to B&B that range from high cliffs to red sandy beaches - and it's steeped in history and unrivaled points of interest that would draw crowds elsewhere.

Read on for a part-by-part description of the visit. A dozen trails were collected and placed on trailpeak for anyone to use, complete with imagery, GPS/GPX downloads, description, and suggestions on where to stay that makes sense for hikers. Click the links below to discover how you can do this entire trip or build your own itinerary which includes just a few legs of the Labrador Pioneer Footpath.

As a starting point one can also contact Bonnie (project lead) at the visitor information center in L'Anse Au Clair to get any updates on the Labrador Pioneer Footpath (there is now a guided option), or the possibility of over nighting at the Point Amour lighthouse which is along the route. It's the 2nd tallest lighthouse in Atlantic Canada and provides a great deal of local history while remaining operational since the 1800's. Otherwise, it's B&B to B&B trekking along pristine (you will likely see no one for hours) coastline over low cliffs and soft crowberry footing.

Here it is, in reverse order (most recent back to beginning) including a bonus viewpoint walk in the St. Anthony area of Newfoundland to see icebergs (you get very close to St. Anthony en-route to the Labrador ferry).

Highlights: Our first wilderness hike, from L'Anse Au Clair to Forteau, and then Forteau to the tallest lighthouse in Atlantic Canada at Point Amour. Also, and on par, the whole experience at Battle Harbour for a heritage tour and the hiking on Caribou Island where we saw arctic foxes and the remnants of old communities.

It wasn't a problem every day, but you have to be prepared for black flies. Fortunately we had bug nets for when it got bad. Since the Labrador Pioneer Footpath stays true to the heritage trail along the seashore, the shore breeze keeps bugs away. Overall, it's not a problem. Once you hit the forested sections without a breeze (there are a few) you may want your bug net or spray and always take the beach route if you can.

A real bonus on your return from Labrador; Daredevil Hill Trail at St. Anthony with Iceberg Show

Part 5 - Red Bay National Historic Site Trails

On the way back from Battle Harbour, there are three walking trails to take in at Red Bay. Boney Shore, Saddle Island, and the Tracey Hill view trail. You may see icebergs while learning about the Basque fishermen that first visited this area!

Tracey Hill for the view of Red Bay and icebergs! Great cardio if you run up.

Saddle Island offers a few hours of walking in a historical setting.

>>> Details of blog post part 5 - on Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism site.

Part 4 - Battle Harbour and Caribou Island Treks

Every visitor to the Southern Labrador Coast should visit the historically significant Battle Harbour, a restored fishing port. An associated all day trek on nearby Caribou Island complete with Arctic foxes, caves, abandoned communities, coves, and lots of ridge walking will have you ready for soup back at the communal dinnig hall which is located above the 1930's vintage general store.

Caribou Island Trek (Battle Harbour)

Battle Harbour Island Walk

Before heading off to the ferry at St. Mary's to get the ferry over to Battle Harbour, we quickly did ...

Bouquet Hill Trail at West St. Modeste

>>> Details of Blog Post Part 4 - on Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism site.

Part 3b - Battery Trail and West St. Modeste legs of Labrador Pioneer Footpath

High up on the Battery cliffs, views to the sea and a moderate but initially steep hike await the hiker before two shorter close-to-the-sea hikes near West St. Modeste. You end up in Pinware, the jumping off point for future legs of the Labrador Pioneer Footpath that will end in Red Bay.

Capstan Island to West St. Modeste, West St. Modeste to Pinware along the Labrador Pioneer Footpath

Battery Trail leg of Labrador Pioneer Footpath

An interview with Mayor Agnes Pike provided plenty of insight into the traditional footpath that was the only way to get from community to community when boats weren't used. To get the full interview, click the link to the corresponding blog post. Today, the Labrador Pioneer footpath is being re-discovered and is available to visiting hikers, complete with trail markers, maps, and parking areas at each leg (or walk from B&B to B&B and take advantage of luggage transport). The Oceanview Resort at West St. Modeste is a great base-camp for a few days while exploring legs of the Labrador Pioneer Footpath.

Part 3a - L'Anse Au Clair to Forteau (15km), Forteau to Point Amour Lighthouse (6km)

These two legs are very similar, the first day being longer and fascinating, the second day day being a shorter but similar trek into the tallest lighthouse in Atlantic Canada.

Forteau to Point Amour Lighthouse along the Labrador Pioneer Footpath

L'Anse Au Clair to Forteau along the Labrador Pioneer Footpath

>>> Details of Blog Post Part 3 - on Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism Site.

Part 2 - Warmup 6 km hike in L'Anse Au Clair, Jersey Rooms
L'Anse Au Clair is just minutes from Blanc Sablon, where the Labrador Ferry arrives. Settling in for the evening, there's time to do this warmup hike before the the community to community trekking.

Jersey Rooms along the Labrador Pioneer Footpath

Before we departed on the afternoon ferry to Blanc Sablon, we went looking for anything resembling a trail or walk near St. Barbe. Sure enough, there is something to go see / walk, proving every community in Newoufandland and Labrador has trails and likely a shoreline heritage trail.

>>> Details Blog Post Part 2 - on Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism Site.

Bonus: St. Barbe Black Duck Pond walk while waiting for the Labrador Ferry to St. Barbe.

One thing for certain, if you can "clone" this trip and get all that done in seven days as we did, you get the added bonus of being able to eat lots of great seafood and homestyle cooking in the towns without the guilt! You earned it.

We were the very first media group to trek these trails. There will be some changes and further development; however, sign posts (trail markers) are in the ground, gravel pull offs completed along the highways (for day hikers), GPS/maps available via trailpeak and the visitor center, and, in the not too distant future, a final push of trail development from Pinware to Red Bay. This final segment would be the most rugged, most mountainous, and most appealing to advanced self-sufficient hikers with GPS and devices like the SPOT-messenger (we always have one with us and it's capable of sending a help message along with your co-ordinates to local search and rescue via the SPOT satellite network). You can also use the SPOT messenger simply to update a google map with your location, so friends and family can follow along and get an email update when you "check-in" at times.

That said, the sections we hiked daily ranging from 6 km to 15 km are all within reason for the beginner to intermediate hiker, as luggage transport from B&B to B&B (or shuttle back to your car) can be arranged by the visitor centre or B&B owners. All provided exceptional comfort after a day on the trail, and most provide a boxed lunch for the next day of hiking if hiking up the coast from B to B&B.

Kurt & Jodie

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