Gros Morne National Park features some great paddling routes but the absolute best that I have done is the paddle to Green Gardens. There are several put in points that you can use including Norris Point, Woody Point, or Trout River but if you are on the north shore of Bonne Bay the most direct route is the 5.5km crossing from the Salmon Point near the community of Rocky Harbour.
On my last trip to Gros Morne my group put in at just before noon behind the fish plant in Rocky Harbour and started the hour long crossing just as a small sea breeze began to blow into the bay giving us a little bit of a crosswind chop. We reached the south shore of the bay at Eastern Head and continued south, hugging the rugged shoreline and practicing manoeuvring strokes around 4km of rocky coast. We stopped for lunch on a long gravel beach at Brakes Cove that featured a nice waterfall and an interesting sea arch.
After lunch we continued along the shore for another 5km until we reached the emerald green meadows known as Green Gardens . The coastline here is spectacular with steep cliffs of volcanic pillow basalt rising from the sea to create some amazing sea stacks and caves. The stark contrast between the rugged coastline and the lush vegetation above it is simply breathtaking. The strangest thing to see here are the herds of Sheep that graze on the grass along the edge of the cliffs.
After snapping a few photos around Green Gardens we headed back to the north to a primitive campsite at Skinner Cove, near Wallace Brook. The sunset over the ocean directly to the west was very beautiful and I enjoyed a great night’s sleep with the waves on the rocks outside the tent. I was a little anxious to see that the water had risen to just three feet away from the tent in the middle of the night thanks to a spring tide!
The next morning we broke camp and made our way north again, rock-hopping as far as Eastern Head before crossing back across Bonne Bay into Norris Point. It was a great return paddle but I would have liked to have had a car shuttle to the nearby community of Trout River where I could finish the entire stretch of coastline.
This paddle offers some outstanding scenery and some of the best fun technical paddling that Gros Morne has to offer. We were lucky to have had great weather and calm seas but this area is very prone to onshore winds that often cause a large swell and some very confused rebounding waves that severely limit the number of landing sites available to you. The coast is very exposed and it is quite possible that you would have to travel well off the coast and for several kilometres in either direction before finding a safe place to beach. It is a great route, but only for seasoned paddlers who are comfortable with paddling in level 2 conditions for sustained periods of time.
As I mentioned earlier, you could easily do this route as a day trip instead of an overnight if you arrange for a car shuttle at either Woody Point or Trout River.
Drive to the very end of the main road in Rocky Harbour and put in on the beach directly behind the fish plant.
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