Cape Cormorant is located on the southwestern shore of the Port au Port Peninsula, on the west coast of Newfoundland Island, just 2 kilometers from the town of Grand Terre ( Mainland ).
From Stephenville the trail head is about 60 kilometers along route 463 or 460. The total distance is approximately 6 kilometers and can be done in 3 to 4 hours, depending on several factors including the number and duration of stops and sidetrips taken. Access to the trail head is by way of a paved highway from Stephenville. Upon leaving the road you will encounter mostly dry broken and weathered limestone and some areas of thick tuckamore (thick growths of stunted spruce or fir that is almost impenetrable). Among the broken pieces of limestone and on the surface of solid outcrops, you may find numerous fossil specimens.
Part of the route takes you along precipitous cliff tops. Do not venture too close to the edges. Unstable rocks along the edge are very hazardous. There are several small streams that cross the area, but they pose no obstacle to the hiker. Most of the route is over dry solid ground.
Location of Cape Cormorant:
Cape Cormorant is located on the southwestern shore of the Port au Port Peninsula, just 2 kilometers from the town of Grand Terre ( Mainland ). From Stephenville the trail head is about 60 kilometers along route 463 or 460. The UTM grid reference for the trail head is 368780. The full UTM grid reference is: 336873 meters east, 5378063 meters north. In the remainder of this guide the 6- digit UTM grid reference number is given in the format as explained in the right margin of the map. 6-digit UTM grid references are given to help pinpoint major points on the route and may be used with a GPS to aid in navigation. It would also be useful to plot your course on the map before leaving.
• Topographic map needed:
All references to Cape Cormorant are from Canadian 1:50 000 topographic maps:
• Mainland 12 B/11, Universal Transverse Mercator grid zone 21 U, square identification UD, mean declination 1985 (center of map) 23º 09' W, annual change decreasing 5.8'.
Note that elevation is given in feet and horizontal distance is given in meters and kilometers. Older Canadian topographic maps are printed like that. More recent publications give both horizontal and vertical measurements in meters. A list of map dealers may be available from Natural Resources Canada website: http://maps.nrcan.gc.ca/distrib_centres_e.php
• Gear and equipment suggestions:
A 25 liter day pack should be sufficient to carry all you will need for a day trip. Carry a camera, binoculars, standard first aid kit, snacks or a substantial lunch if you intend to make it a day. A walking staff may be among your list of essential equipment. Since the route is not marked, a map and compass must be used to navigate.
Depending on the season, the amount of clothing you need will vary. Determine the weather forecast before departure, and act accordingly. During any season, dress for the current weather conditions. However, be prepared for sudden changes in the weather. This region is subject to prevailing westerlies and in early summer can be chilly. Fog is possible anytime during the year. Carry extra clothing such as wind pants and jacket, even in the summer. Light hiking boots are recommended; most of the route is dry. Water is present in several small ponds, bogs and small streams. It is highly recommended that you carry your own drinking water, or include some means of filtering or otherwise purifying available water. Upon leaving the road, you will enter almost pristine wilderness. Human activity in this area is very light.
Moose sightings are highly likely. Caribou have also been seen in this area. In the waters along the seashore, a variety of seabirds may be seen. They include guillemots, murres, gulls, kittiwakes, gannets, and cormorants. This area is also known as a limestone or calcareous barrens. You will encounter plant life that is unique to this environment. Some of the most remarkable include mountain avens, yellow lady slipper, pink crowberry , dwarf willows, shrubby cinquefoil, butterwort and moss campion. In early spring the carpets of blooming flowers is breathtaking.
• Minimum environmental impact policy:
It is recommended that hikers observe a minimum environmental impact policy. Avoid open fires, leave wild flowers for others to enjoy, be cautious of wild animals and carry out whatever you carry in.
• Detailed route guide:
To get to Cape Cormorant from Stephenville, drive about 60 kilometers from 820783, the intersection of route 460 and West Street, Stephenville, on route 463 to Grand Terre (Mainland). Drive on through the town and up the highway toward Cape St. George for about 5 kilometers to 368780. Park your vehicle in an abandoned quarry on the left (east) side of the highway.
The destination is the seashore at 345759, on a bearing of 226º, a small headland on the northern edge of Big Cove. There are two small islands very close to shore. Upon crossing the highway, proceed on a bearing of 248º toward the coast. Follow along the weathered limestone ridge for about 1.5 kilometers to the cliffs. The views along this route and from the cliff tops are magnificent. Continue along the cliff tops to the beach at 345759. Access to the beach can be gained by entering the ravine and following the stream a few hundred meters to the ocean. The beaches along the shoreline are worth spending a little time exploring. The geology revealed along the cliff base is fascinating and intriguing. The joy of discovery is left to each new adventurer.
The route back to the starting point is, of course, the same as you followed down. The route described is one of many possible in this area. There is much to see and explore in this region. The country is wide open and the adventurous hiker will find many reasons to vary the route both going and coming.
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