Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Newfoundland Lighthouses

These are some of the lighthouses that we have visited in Newfoundland. We've got quite a few photos and GPS information on each on the website. We've joked that the places in Newfoundland with the best views are lighthouses and cemeteries.

We'll definitely add more lighthouse pages as we visit more parts of the province. The next big one on our list is Point Armour in Labrador, which is going to be part of our trip this June (2016).

Rose Blanche

The granite lighthouse in Rose Blanche is at the end of Route 470, 42km east of Port aux Basques. On the island of Newfoundland, the south shore is the most isolated part of the island. There are several outports east of Rose Blanche that are only accessible by coastal ferries.

The drive along the Granite Coast is very pretty. 470 is a narrow winding road, it will take you about 45 minutes to get to the lighthouse. The landscape is very rugged with very few trees. The coastal views are spectacular.

Granite Lighthouse, Rose Blanche, Newfoundland

Cape Ray

Cape Ray is only 20km from Port aux Basques. Just follow the Trans Canada from the ferry terminal and turn left on Route 408. You can see the sand beaches of J.T. Cheeseman Provincial Park, the coast near the lighthouse is very rocky. This is also a very windy spot, you are right next to Wreckhouse, which is billed as the second windiest place in the world.

Cape Ray Lighthouse, Cape Ray, NL

Cape Anguille

Cape Anguille is the western-most point on the Island of Newfoundland. You get there by driving through the beautiful Codroy Valley. Drive through the town of Codroy, NL. You keep going almost to the end of the road. There is a fairly rough gravel road that takes you to the lighthouse. There is a very pretty Inn at the lighthouse. You can park there, walk over to the lighthouse, and continue on a trail along the coast. The trail is a quad track that follows the shoreline. It's a very pretty walk.

Cape Anguille Lighthouse, Codroy, NL

Lobster Head Cove, Rocky Harbour

The Lobster Head Cove Lighthouse is located in the heart of Gros Morne National Park. It's easy to get to, just go into Rocky Harbour and turn right on the main road that follows around the harbour. The road for the lighthouse is just past the north end of town.

The lighthouse is a popular attraction in the park. It's manned by Parks Canada staff, that give tours and answer questions. There are nice public washrooms just off the parking lot. There is a picnic area and several trails that go around the rocky shore. The view from here is spectacular. Gros Morne is an amazing place.

Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse, Rocky Harbour, NL

Cow Head

The lighthouse trail on the Cow Head peninsula takes you to this little steel lighthouse surrounded by forest. When we visited in June 2015 it was open and you could climb up a ladder and look out on The Gulf of St. Lawrence. We went back in September and it was freshly painted, but locked up.

It is no longer operational. It is one of many highlights on this easy to walk trail. The peninsula is also known as Summerside. All permanent residents were resettled back to the town of Cow Head.

Cow Head Lighthouse, Cow Head, NL

Point Riche

To get to Port au Choix you take Route 430-28 West from the Viking Trail (Route 430). Follow the signs for The Port au Choix National Historic Site of Canada. The lighthouse is about a mile past the visitor centre on a gravel road. You are driving to the end of the Point Riche Peninsula.

There is a large parking area at the lighthouse, you can start down The Philip's Garden Trail from here. When we were there in September 2015, we saw Caribou from near the parking area. The peninsula has both Moose and Caribou.

Point Riche Lighthouse, Port au Choix, NL

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Port aux Basques Area Hiking Trails

One of our favourite activities when we are in Newfoundland is doing a trail. We've spent quite a bit of time in the Port aux Basques area for a couple of reasons. First, that's where the ferry lands. Second, it's one of our favourite parts of the province.

We've spent a couple of weeks in the area now. We stay at the Grand Codroy RV Park in Doyles. If you are planning to stay at a B & B, there are several in the area. I'd suggest the RoseSea in Rose Blanche. Another spot that I think is really neat is the Inn at Cape Anguille.

Our definition of the Port aux Basques area would be from Rose Blanche to The Codroy Valley. We've got quite a bit of information on the site about trails and hikes that we've actually done. There are several more trails in the area that we'll do on future trips.

Rose Blanche Granite Lighthouse

It's a beautiful hike from the parking area out to the lighthouse. It's a fairly easy to walk gravel trail. It starts with a fairly good hill, which leads you to a nice view of Rose Blanche and Petites. There are some side trails which take you around the granite formations that surround the lighthouse.

Barachois Falls Trail

The parking for this trail is on the north side of Route 470 between Burnt Islands and Rose Blanche. For GPS co-ordinates go to our Barachois Falls page. This is an easy trail. Part of it is gravel, most of it is boardwalk. There are not a lot of stairs. The boardwalk follows the contours of the land. They have nailed down asphalt shingles to give you traction. The landscape between Port aux Basques and Rose Blanche is very barren with almost no trees. The trail at Barachois Falls really gives you the feel of this rugged landscape. The trail ends at a viewing platform with a picnic table, where you can take some photos of the falls.

Harvey Trail

The Harvey Trail in Isles aux Morts is one of our favourite trails in the province. It's a 4 km loop, mostly gravel and easy to walk. If you go on a sunny day, I'm sure that you'll be as captivated as we were. You drive through town to get to the parking area and there are quite a few twists and turns. For maps and GPS, please visit our Harvey Trail web page.

Wetlands Trail

This trail starts right across the road from the Wetlands Interpretation Centre in Upper Ferry. It's a flat well maintained trail that goes through the forest along the Codroy River Estuary. There are several little off-chute trails that let you go out to the river bank. This area is popular with birders, it's a good idea to have a bird guide and some binoculars with you.

Cape Anguille Lighthouse

You can park at the Inn which is close to the lighthouse. There is a quad track that runs up the coast from the lighthouse. It's a level walk. The Anguille Mountains are on your right and the Gulf of St. Lawrence is on the left. If you're lucky, you'll see a whale. We saw a seal on our walk.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Western Newfoundland Geology

Newfoundland's nickname is 'The Rock'. It does not matter what part of the island you visit, you'll see lots of rock. The province boasts several sites that have great geological significance.

While walking trails we often find ourselves wondering how the various interesting formations came about. Our understanding of geology is pretty limited. We purchased a great book titled 'Geology of Newfoundland' by Martha Hickman Hild, available from Boulder Publications. The book has GPS co-ordinates, photos and descriptions of 48 sites across the island. The level of information will satisfy serious rock hounds. In our case, we are able to glean enough to satisfy our curiosity. We keep the book in the truck, it does not matter what part of the island you are visiting, there will be an interesting site nearby.

Western Newfoundland has the oldest rocks on the island. When you take the Western Brook Pond boat tour, you'll see the Long Range Mountains close up. The rock you are looking at was formed 1.5 billion years ago. The boat crew does a good job of explaining what you are seeing.

When you are in Western Newfoundland, we'd recommend 4 other very interesting sites for looking at rocks. In Gros Morne, you'll also want to visit Green Point and The Tablelands. Stop in Stephenville and you can check out a petrified forest along the Blanche Brook Trail. Finally, on the Port au Port Peninsula, we really enjoyed checking out the folded rocks at Piccadilly.

Green Point

At Green Point you are looking at millions of years worth of sedimentary rock formed at the bottom of an ancient ocean. The layers of shale and limestone have been shifted dramatically so they are vertical, not horizontal. Looking at the cliff from the beach you are seeing a time record. The older layers of rock are to your right, the younger layers to the left.

There is a layer in the middle of the cliff that marks the dividing line between the older Cambrian period and the newer Ordovician period. This all happened just under 500 million years ago. Green Point has been designated as an International reference point for the geological time scale. Apparently there have been lots of geologists studying this cliff.

It's not difficult to get down to the base of the cliffs. The tricky part is timing. You want to go late in the afternoon at low tide. Somehow we lucked upon the right time. It allows you to get further out on the rocky beach to get a better look at the cliff. It also allows you to see all the vertical layers of rock coming out of the beach at a 90° angle. The walking is a bit tricky on the jagged rocks. For more information on where Green Point is and more photos, you can visit our web page.

The Tablelands

This area in the southern section of Gros Morne National Park is very similar to the surface of Mars. It's a large area where the earth's mantle is exposed. The reddish, yellowish rock is peridotite. It's chemically unstable and water that seeps through it's cracks is slowly changing it to another type of rock called serpentinite. This process also alters the water chemistry. This recipe does not support plant life. The Martian surface is also largely made up of peridotite and serpentinite.

There are lots of ways to see The Tablelands. The simplest is to just drive the road from Woody Point to Trout River. There is a trail that you can hike on your own or with a guided walk by Parks Canada. You can also get another view of The Tablelands by going on the Trout River Pond boat tour.

Blanche Brook

The fossil trees along Blanche Brook are also very easy to get to. The trail starts right in Stephenville, next to an ATV dealer. You hike in about 1 km along the rocky stream. We first noticed what we thought were logs that the shallow water was flowing over. On closer inspection these were actually rocks. You need to get out and walk in the stream bed and you'll find lots of pieces of petrified wood. Don't take souvenirs, you need to leave it the way you find it for the next hiker.

The trees are all the same species of primitive tree that is now extinct. They probably grew to a height of 48 metres and were some of the tallest trees of their time period.

The Folded Rocks

This is located quite close to Stephenville in Piccadilly on the Port au Port Peninsula. It's right along an easy to walk beach. It is a bit of a scramble to get down to the beach. This feature is not in any of the tour books, but well worth checking out. There are no signs giving directions and there are no interpretive signs once you reach that portion of the cliff.

You will see layers of sandstone and crumbly dark shale. Forces folded the stronger sandstone layers into this interesting formation. Several of the sandstone layers are folded bottom up, so you can see what both the top and bottom of each layer looks like.

You can stop at the Parkview Variety in Piccadilly for gas and munchies. They gave us good instructions on finding the folded rocks. We've detailed it on our Piccadilly web page.