Hiking the Newfoundland East Coast Trail

Whether you’re looking for an hour-long hike or a multi-day backpacking and camping excursion, the East Coast Trail is something you must experience while visiting Newfoundland.

Split up into 26 separate paths, the East Coast Trail offers about 300km of developed trail to explore along the province’s Avalon Peninsula. You’ll see fishing villages, fjords, lighthouses, ecological areas, icebergs, a suspension bridge, and more. The trail is completely free to use, though the association does accept donations.

The complete trail brings you by many major points of interest such as the Cape Spear Lighthouse, La Manche Suspension Bridge, and The Spout – a geyser created by ocean waves!

The best time of year to hike is between April – November. Be sure to plan your hike accordingly.

Before heading out

  • Use the East Coast Trail Map to find trail details and plan your hike.
  • Check the length of the trail and be sure you have enough daylight hours to finish before dark.
  • Check the forecast to be sure there is no impending dangerous weather or storms.

Each section of the trail is categorized into one of four rankings: Easy, Moderate, Difficult, or Strenuous. These ratings take into account overall distance, elevation changes, and terrain. Easy trails will be shorter and be in very good condition with bridges, steps, etc. Conversely, trails with more difficult ratings will be longer, have larger changes in elevation, and potentially more challenging terrain. Risk to a reasonably fit and cautious person are minimal, especially on the easy trails.

It’s important to note that stated trail distances are one-way, so you will either need to hike back the way you came after finishing the trail, or arrange for a ride or leave a second car at the end of the trail.

What to bring

  • Proper clothing and footwear such as hiking boots. Regular sneakers may be acceptable on easy, shorter trails. Sandals or flip-flops are never acceptable.
  • Cell phone
  • Backpack with adequate water and food or snacks.
  • Trail maps are available for purchase.

Wildlife

Being so close to nature you are sure to encounter some wildlife. Whether it’s ocean wildlife or land animals such as moose, foxes, caribou, squirrels or something else.

Some parts of the trail will also have flies and mosquitoes which, while not really harmful, can cause itchy irritating bites! You may choose to wear clothing that covers the skin, wear bug repellent, and bring some treatment cream such as After Bite just in case.

The presence of bears on the Avalon Peninsula is extremely rare.

Guided Hikes

If you’d feel more comfortable with an expert tour guide, guided hikes are available on weekends during the hiking season. East Coast Trail Association volunteers will bring you along the various trails. You can select a trail difficulty that fits your capability and register in advance on their website.

More about the trail

Looking for more Hiking in Newfoundland outside the Avalon Peninsula? Check out Gros Morne!