Monday, January 21, 2013

Snowshoeing the East Coast Trail

Silver Head Mine Path
Lori and I used some Christmas money to buy snow-shoes this year and we finally hit on the perfect weekend to test them out on the East Coast Trail.  The weather cooperated with fresh snow falling on Friday and Saturday nights, but with crisp blue skies during the day on both Saturday and Sunday. Breaking through new snow on even the best marked path makes you feel like a proper explorer.
The Blackhead Path - Cape Spear to Blackhead

View of the Cape Spear Lighthouse
from along the Blackhead Path
On Saturday, I drove out to Cape Spear and hiked along the Blackhead Path to the top of Blackhead, back towards St. John's.  The road to Cape Spear starts at the bottom of our street, so I really don't have an excuse to not visit more often.  I parked at the main lot and walked back along the barrens towards the small parking lot along the road where the trail head is marked and the path to Blackhead technically begins.  The trail goes through coastal barrens, woods, and up to the top of Blackhead.  It continues on to the community of Blackhead and ultimately Fort Amherst in St. John's, but I turned around at the summit.  The hike was a little less than 3 hours at a pretty leisurely pace (I took over 200 photos).  There was some thigh high drifting at the top of Blackhead, but for the most part it was a pretty comfortable hike.

The view back towards Cape Spear from Blackhead. 

Returning to Cape Spear

On a clear day, you can easily see Signal Hill from Cape Spear and Blackhead.

Cape Spear

Silver Head Mine Path - Middle Cove to Torbay

Mouth of Motion River/North Pond River 
On Sunday, we headed to Middle Cove and hiked the Silver Head Mine Path north towards Torbay.  People had hiked and snowshoed the trail on Saturday, but we had a few centimetres of new fresh powder all to ourselves.  The path starts at Middle Cove beach, quickly ascends a steep wooded cliff with a vertical drop into the Atlantic and continues along the cliff edge towards Torbay.  There are two areas of running water along the trail - the first we met was Houlihan's River, which was small enough to jump over, but a few hundred metres from the path end at Torbay there is a larger river, called either Motion River or North Pond River.  We turned around at this river and made our way back to Middle Cove.  The hike took around two hours.

Heading back towards Middle Cove. (Click to Enlarge)

Looking down into Middle Cove
The mouth of Houlihans River.  The trail skirts through the woods along the the top of the cliff in the background.
There was no way to get across the river in snowshoes, so we turned around at this point.  Its was definitely worth the trip.
Motion River/North Pond Rive enters the Atlantic in this cove.

Photo Credits:
1-10,12,13: Tim Rast
11: Lori White


  1. Beautiful pictures! I'm in the market for a pair of snowshoes too, even though there isn't enough snow here in Bonavista North yet. Any tips on what you like/don't like about your new ones?

  2. Thanks Janet. We got Atlas Traverse snowshoes that were on sale at SportChek for $149. They are "unisex" which means they fit men fine and probably some women. I really like the style of bindings that Atlas uses; they are very easy to get in and out of and were nice and secure.

    On our first outing, the bindings seemed a little wide for Lori's foot and we need to see if there is any way to adjust them. It might turn out to be an issue. They didn't slip and she didn't have any problem walking with them, but because the bindings didn't form to her boot tightly on the sides, ice built up under her foot (between the bottom of her boot and the binding) to the point where it felt like she was walking with a pebble in her boot. We're not sure if its something we can correct ourselves, or if its a problem with these particular bindings and a small/narrow foot.


Related Posts with Thumbnails