Along the Appalachian Trail

Keith &
Keith & Heather Nicol
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The Appalachian Trail in the United States runs 3,500 kilometres from Georgia to Maine and it is used by an estimated three to four million people per year.
Since geologically the Long Range Mountains of Western Newfoundland are part of the Appalachian Chain, it only makes sense that this popular trail be extended to this province.
Although the planned trail will run from Port aux Basques to the tip of the Northern Peninsula, much of it is still in the "line on the map" stage. However, over the past several years, through the hard work of many individuals like Paul Wentzel, Kevin Noseworthy, Greg Wood, Bob Diamond, Arne Helgeland and many others, you can now hike on several sections of the International Appalachian Trail in Newfoundland (IATNL) trail in Newfoundland.
Arne Helgeland recently told me, "We wanted to have several day hike sections ready first so that people could see what we had in mind and to generate some interest and awareness in the whole project. We now have several of these sections which are marked and ready to hike and we are pleasantly surprised at the amount of use these trails have seen this summer. We often drive by the trail head at Ballam bridge for the start of the Man in the Mountain section and there are usually several cars in the parking lot so we know this trail is getting good use."
What follows is a short trail description of some two of my favourite sections of the Humber Valley portion of the IATNL with GPS co-ordinates so that anyone can easily find the start and finish locations.
Bring plenty of water if the day is hot and standard safety equipment like a GPS, topographic map and a first-aid kit. Also binoculars and a camera certainly won't go astray since the scenery is striking.
The Man in the Mountain Trail is probably the most popular section of the International Appalachian Trail in Newfoundland and for good reason. From its starting point near Ballam Bridge (turn right into the gravel pit and look for the trail head sign) it climbs steeply and then provides good vistas of Corner Brook and Humber Arm. The highlight for many hikers is the fabulous view from a spectacular cliff face overlooking the Humber River and Shellbird Island which is about 3.7 km from the start. From here the trail winds past two scenic ponds and along a ridge crest providing more views of the Humber River and the ski runs at Marble Mountain. The last portion of the trail is mostly downhill through stands of birch and spruce. We even saw pink lady slippers on our last hike in late July. The 8.7-km trail ends at the Wild Cove Pond road, so you will need to do a car shuttle if you plan to do the whole hike. A popular alternative is to hike to the lookout and back, which is about 7.5 km return. The starting point near Ballam Bridge is located at 48 57.203 N and 57 53.119 W. The trail end at Wild Cove is at 48 58.262 N and 57 49.897 W but you can do the hike in either direction.
The Wild Cove Pond to Humber Village section of the International Appalachian Trail is another popular day hike and is a logical extension of the previous hike. The trail starts near Wild Cove Pond and climbs through an open birch forest to the ridge crest where the hiker is rewarded with impressive views of Wild Cove Pond and the ski runs of Marble Mountain. This trail is especially popular in the fall when the trees are changing colour. This area is one of the few areas in Newfoundland where there are extensive birch forests and the fern understory with a bright yellow canopy makes for a unique hiking experience, especially in the autumn. The route then follows a series of ridges which provides great hiking conditions and views of the surrounding hills and valleys.

Barry's Lookout
A popular viewpoint is locally called Barry's Lookout, and from here the hiker can see Deer Lake, the Humber River and the heavily forested slopes of the Humber Valley. From Barry's Lookout the trail descends through the open forest to Humber Village and the access road. This section is just over 5 km, so is suited to a wide range of hikers. Again ,you will have to do a car shuttle with this hike or ,if that is not possible, many people hike from Humber Village to Barry's Lookout and back which is a hike of less than 4 km return.
The trail starting point at Wild Cove is 48 58.262 N and 57 49.897 W. and the trail ends at 48 59.262 N and 57 47.001 W in Humber Village.
The IATNL future plans include finalizing the development of sections in the Lewis Hills (the high point of the Island), Blow Me Down Mountains and the highlands of Parson's Pond and these trails should rival of the best mountain hiking in Gros Morne National Park or any other place east of the Rockies, for that matter. Once this trail becomes better known and established it will become a fine complement to the East Coast Trail on the Avalon Peninsula.
Compared to the other Atlantic Provinces, Newfoundland is now creating two enviable long-distance trail systems and is truly making itself known as a world-class hiking destination. For more information on the IATNL, check them out on the web at www.iatnl.ca. You can see short videos of these trails on You Tube by searching under k2nicol and clicking on the trail names.

Keith and Heather Nicol are avid hikers and photographers from Corner Brook. He can be reached at knicol@swgc.mun.ca.

Geographic location: Newfoundland, United States, Georgia Maine Long Range Mountains Humber River Port aux Basques Northern Peninsula Humber Valley Humber Village Corner Brook Marble Mountain Deer Lake Gros Morne National Park Rockies Atlantic Provinces

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