There are many hiking trails in Newfoundland and Labrador, too many to even count or come close to exploring in several lifetimes. The forestry and off-roading community have also built extensive trail networks allowing for endless hiking trails in Newfoundland. For those local and come from aways wanting to do the best hiking trails here in their lifetime we recommend these 5 best.
Completely in our opinion and based on what we’ve done, but as always, we’d love to hear from you in the comments and on social media and we will update this list as the years go on. Some of my favourite hiking trails in Newfoundland are not official trail networks, so we’ll save those for an entirely different post next week.
Hiking In Newfoundland
The best time of year for hiking in Newfoundland is late spring to mid December depending on what area you’re in. On the Avalon, you typically can go all year round depending on the snow levels which can fluctuate by the day here. If you’re a die hard hiker who doesn’t mind a bit of rain or snow then you’re always going to find great hike to do year round.
We’ve wrote a simple and to the point guide to the best hiking trails in Newfoundland, some marked year round and others not. We typically turn hiking trails to snowshoeing trails in the winter which gives you an entirely different experience. If you do plan on hiking in the winter, make sure you have crampons, snowshoes and all the right gear so you come back home. Always let someone know where you’re going and and bring an extra phone charger.
5 Best Hiking Trails In Newfoundland
After getting some feedback from our followers on Instagram and TikTok the following five hiking trails in Newfoundland made the list. The first one is a bit of a cheat because it’s may hundred kilometres long and consists of several trails in just one network. While there are many, many more then five “best” hiking trails in Newfoundland, these I feel are what you should put on your list if you haven’t hiked here before.
East Coast Trail
When you think of hiking in Newfoundland, the East Coast Trail is everyones first answer nine times out of ten. It’s also just over 336 kilometres of trail that is shared by 25 wilderness paths across the province. It’s a bit of a cheaty answer because it is many trails, so how you choose to go about it is up to you.
I’ve spent many hours hiking these trails and you’ll find me on one of them with my dogs several times a week getting in our exercise or snapping some photos. There are trails for all levels of hikers here, but most I would classify as advanced because of the length, terrain and remoteness of some of them.
If you were to ask me, which part should I absolutely most do? I would say start at Cape Spear and do the East Coast Trail all the way to St. John’s in one day. By the time you reach the city you can go grab a pint and some grub and let your legs regain some composure after such a trek. My absolute favourite section of the East Coast Trail though is the Pouch Cove to Biscan Cove as it has incredible views, it’s a tough hike and it all can be done in a day trip.
We cannot say enough good things about The Damnable Trail and from what we’ve seen on their Instagram it’s been doable in parts during the winter as the snow has been minimal. The Damnable Trails are made up of a network of trails just like the East Coast Trail.
This hiking trail network is located on The Eastport Peninsula and it borders Terra Nova National Park so it offers a lot of incredible landscapes. I love staying in Salvage, so this trail is perfect when staying here as there’s a lot of take part in and I’ve yet to do it all.
This network of trails was developed largely from the remnants of old walking trails and hauling paths forged by the very first settlers here. While many tourists have marvelled at the scenic drive down to and around the Eastport Peninsula, only a select few have retraced the paths of the first settlers through the boreal forest of Newfoundland and along the rugged coastal headlands.
The Damnable Trail has something to offer just about everyone – from a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk at Chuff’s Bight (which is wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair) to a day-long multi kilometre hike that follows the ridge line of a dramatic coastline and takes visitors through scenic communities like Salvage or Happy Adventure.
Brimstone Head Trail
I hiked the Brimstone Head Trail just over a year ago in the early fall season and while it’s a short hike, it’s a great one. It’s got it all. The stairs make it accessible for a lot of people, there’s a viewing platform at the top, the views are endless and you get 360 views at the top. This Newfoundland hiking trail is the number one thing to do on Fogo Island according to TripAdvisor.
The Brimstone Head Trail is located just outside of the town of Fogo, so it’s a real breeze getting to. This means it can be quite busy in the summer months. When we went in early September the weather was cloudy and there were only a couple other hiking groups there during out entire hike up and down. It’s short despite how daunting it looks when you’re driving up, but there were many folks over the age of 60 on the way up and down.
Skerwink Hiking Trail
This is another trail that people from around the world come to experience. It’s a memorable hike that isn’t too long, it’s a loop and when you’re finished there’s great coffee and a brewery a short walk away. The Skerwink Trail is 5.3 KM long and takes about an hour on average to complete, but I recommend bringing a picnic. You can see whales and icebergs here in the right seasons, so why not sit back and let nature put on a show?
The Skerwink Trail is part of the Hike Discovery trail network and we highly recommend doing it in the summer months, early fall if you want to avoid large crowds. This trail is internationally recognized and was ranked amongst the top 35 trails in North America and Europe by Travel & Leisure magazine.
The really big attraction on this trail are the sea stacks which are uniquely shaped rocks carved out over millions of years. You really have to be careful as a lot of the trail goes along some very steep and deadly cliffs. Dogs must be on a leash and you’ll want to keep a close eye on your young ones if they’re running around.
Gros Morne Mountain Trail
If you’re heading to Gros Morne for hiking adventures you’ll want to come and do the main attraction. This loop trail takes you up to the second highest peak in Newfoundland and can be done in one day if you’re in good shape and are adept and being hiking prepared. It’s just over 18 KM long and is often described as a “gruelling but rewarding hike” and I can assure you is worth every step for that view at the top.
We do recommend a bit of studying for this hike and even downloading the All Trails Map onto your phone before you go. Another great resources is the Parks Canada trail weather conditions which allow you to plan the smartest.
The first section of the loop will take hikers along the James Callaghan trail, and here you will traverse habitat of forest, meadows, marshes, ponds, and very rocky cliff faces. It is essential to be adequately prepared since the beginning of this hike is quite steep and can be difficult for some, especially if you’re bringing large day packs that are heavy.
Should you do this trail in bad weather and or the winter? I’d say probably not as it’s hard to find the trail and you don’t want to get stuck in bad weather up here, even when moderately prepared.