Bigger Kids

4 family-friendly hiking trails in Newfoundland and Labrador

500-million years old fossils, rocky coastline views and an old mail road await on these family-friendly hiking trails in Newfoundland.

Old Mail Road Trail. Photo: Gros Morne National Park. Old Mail Road Trail. Photo: Parks Canada.

1. Shoreline Heritage Walking Trail, Bay Roberts This six-kilometre trail is at the tip of a peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. It mixes stunning rocky coastline views with kid-friendly examples of Newfoundland’s heritage, like a root cellar with a bright red roof tucked into a hill and an island that’s said to resemble a Newfoundland dog. Depending on the time of year, you may see a variety of wildflowers, eagles wheeling overhead or whales following squid and capelin into the bay. Not up for six kilometres? The trail has a number of access points, so you can shorten your hike. There are also four washrooms en route.

Go hiking: Water Street, Bay Roberts (follow the road signs to Mad Rock Café) 709-786-2126 Free>

2. Brimstone Head, Fogo Island You can say you’ve been to one of the four corners of the earth! This steep but short 0.5-kilometre climb over rocky terrain (with some staircases and boardwalks to help you) takes you to a platform on top of the rocks. There, you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic view of the historic town of Fogo Island, with its classic white buildings, as well as fishing boats and possibly even icebergs bobbing around in the ocean.

Go hiking: Brimstone Head Park, Fogo Island (take the ferry and drive to Fogo Island, then look for the campground/baseball diamond and you’ll find the entrance) 709-266-1320>

3. Old Mail Road Trail, Cow Head Gros Morne National Park is known for its challenging wilderness hikes, but there are a number of family-friendly options, too. On the four-kilometre Old Mail Road loop trail, you’ll retrace the route of the mailmen who delivered the post by dogsled every winter from 1882 to 1952. No dogsled required for your family, though: This oceanside walk takes you over gentle rolling terrain through lovely white sand dunes and tuckamore, the province’s famously tough, gnarled evergreen trees. In summer, bring your swimsuits for a dip in Shallow Bay and watch for thousands of acrobatic Arctic terns just offshore of Belldown’s Point. Your little wildlife lovers might also catch a glimpse of moose, snowshoe hare or fox.

Go hiking: Shallow Bay Campground Gros Morne National Park, Hwy 430 709-458-2417 $19.60 per family>


4. Downstream Trail, Manuels River How often do you get to see actual 500-million-year-old fossils embedded in rock? Trilobites were distant relatives of crabs that lived in the ancient oceans that once covered this area just south of St. John’s. This 5.2-kilometre round-trip trail starts at the Interpretation Centre, which has hands-on displays about geology and natural history, as well as washrooms and a café that serves locally roasted organic coffee and homemade soups and desserts (if you call in advance, you can order a to-go picnic called Lunch on the Rocks). Guided tours are included for the price of admission, or you can head out on your own. The picturesque riverside trail takes you along a gorge, then to the protected fossil site and down to the beach.

Go hiking: The Manuels River Experience 7 Conception Bay Hwy, Conception Bay South 709-834-2099 Adults: $8.50; kids 5–17: $6; kids under 5: free>

This article was originally published on Aug 10, 2015

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