Big Level is located in the southwestern extremity of the Lewis Hills, at an elevation of 2474 feet above sea level. Access to the trail head is at the end of a 28 k logging road. The condition of the road is variable. At best, it is accessible from late spring to early fall. Depending on recent weather conditions involving snow/rain, the road may be impassible. There are several private cabins at the road’s extremities and there may be some forest harvesting activity.The total distance is approximately 14 kilometres and can be done in 8 - 10 hours, depending on several factors. The actual walking speed of hikers, the number and duration of stops and side trips taken will, of course, determine travel time. The most demanding section of the route is the ascent from Fox Island River to Big Level. During that 3 kilometres the trail rises from 650 feet to 2474 feet.
Detailed route guide: To get to Big Level from Stephenville, drive 5 kilometers on route 460, from the intersection of route 460 and West Street at 820783, to the Cold Brook intersection at 858814. Turn left and drive just over one kilometer toward Cold Brook. At the intersection of the Cold Brook road and a logging road at 864823, turn right.
The distance along this logging road to the trail head is approximately 28 k. There are several intersections and branch roads along the route. As a general rule, follow the main road. It may be in use by large logging trucks and other vehicles. Caution is advised. Allow at least 1 hour to drive to the trail head. The first intersection is approximately 8 k along the road at 897881. Turn left and the road immediately crosses Cold Brook (the river). The roads begins to climb and curve to the west. At 11 k, 890897, another intersection, stay on the main road to the right. At 14 k, 890924, another intersection just past the Romaines Brook bridge, stay on the main road to the right, up a hill. At 21 k, 930975, stay on the main road to the left. At 26 k, 958999, stay on the main road to the left, in a northerly direction. At 27 k, 963009, the road crosses Phillip's Brook. Beyond Phillip's Brook there are two more intersections very close together. Continue straight on through, past both. About 700 m beyond Phillips Brook, there is an excavated area on the right, with several mounds of gravel. Park your vehicle here, off the road.
Nearby, off the western side of the road, is a skidder track leading to a clear-cut area. A cabin-owner also uses the track to access a cabin. The trail is well-used. Follow the track through the clear-cut to a small pond at 956016. Follow on through a small tuckamore grove, across a small bog and into a spruce grove. A cabin is located at 951019. Follow the trail around the cabin to the left. From here the trail is not well marked, but is used by local cabin owners to access nearby ponds. The area is covered by low bushes, tuckamore and bog. It is not possible to follow a constant compass bearing, but following the UTM grid points is important to maintaining your route. Continue through the spruce grove, northwest 280º, downhill, to a point, 948020, between two small ponds. You may be able to see the rusty brown of the Lewis Hills to the northwest. Cross the brook and climb up the hill, bearing 289º, about 600 metres to a bog drained by a small stream, 942021. Continue to the edge of the ridge and begin your descent at 939022.
Pick your route through the tuckamore, down a small stream bed, and around the small pond to a rocky outcrop at 936024. You are now overlooking Fox Island River.
The view across the river is spectacular. This is always a good place to take a break and enjoy the scenery. In fact, the route from here is notably scenic. Your destination, Big Level, is visible at a bearing of 268º, over 4.5 kilometers away. When you are ready to proceed, descend to the riverbed at 932029 and to a crossing place at 927028.
Follow the stream bed to 920026. The rocky outcrop at 907027, 273º, is the next objective.
The ascent of Big Level has now begun. Low bushes and loose rocky outcrops make this route treacherous. Follow along the shoulder where the slope is more manageable and the canyon is in view to the north. From 900028 take a bearing of 238º to the cairn on Big Level, 889022, and head straight for it. The cairn, known locally as "The Virgin" stands about 6 feet high on the edge of a rocky outcrop. Because of the curvature of the hill, it is difficult to see it until you are quite near. Combine skillful use of map and compass, with the aid of a GPS, and finding it is no great problem.
The view from “The Virgin” is magnificent on a clear day. The Long Point of the Port au Port Peninsula and Port au Port Bay are visible to the west. Cabox, the highest elevation on Newfoundland Island at 2672 feet above sea level, is found 7.5 k away on a bearing of 13º. The route back to the starting point is, of course, the same as you followed up. It is recommended that you not try to make "shortcuts". The route described is the best we could find, having tried several others. If new and better routes are found and/or developed, this guide will be updated.
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