We’ve travelled to the Twillingate area on several occasions to see icebergs, go whale watching and explore with our sea kayaks.
But recently we got a phone call from Fred Bridger, who has been helping to develop hiking trails in the Twillingate area for the past few years.
“If you like coastal hiking you can’t do much better than these trails,” he said over the phone.
“The trails pass by sea stacks, sea cliffs and we even have some osprey and eagles that nest in the area. At this time of year you won’t see any icebergs but you can nibble on blueberries if you like, since the trails go through some fine berry patches.”
This was all we needed and Fred offered to act as our guide for a couple of days.
So earlier this month we set off from our home in Corner Brook to check out Twillingate’s trails. We checked into the Cabins by the Sea, and shortly after we arrived Fred popped in for a visit to discuss the plans for the next couple of days.
“Its been a banner year for tourism,” he said. “If you were here last month or in July you might not have found a place to stay. We are now up to 40,000 visitors, which is way up from a few years ago. In fact, our Paradise Bed and Breakfast has pretty much been full so far this September, which bodes well since we are trying to develop our fall tourism product, and hiking could be a big part of that.”
The next day we set off for neighbouring Durrell and two trails that run back to back in that area. We followed the main road right to the end and parked in a small parking lot where we set off on the French Beach—Spiller’s Cove Trail.
“These trails were created by local fishermen to hunt birds or check for sea or ice conditions off the coast,” Fred explained.
“All we did was connect them so that they would form loops. We prefer to hike on a loop since you don’t see the same scenery twice, so that has been our aim wherever possible.”
The trails are generally well marked and Fred said they planned to install $8,000 worth of new signs this fall. But be warned, these trails are rocky — like a roller coaster in places. Even though the high points may only be 60-80 metres above sea level, there is a considerable amount of climbing and descending, so bring good hiking shoes. On a hot day, you should also carry extra water, a snack and a wind breaker.
This trail is about five km and the highlights include good views back to Durrell and a very rugged shoreline punctuated with sea stacks and steep cliffs.
Fred has an imaginative eye for rock formations and pointed out the shapes of a cobra, camel and an aboriginal person.
Allow yourself about two hours to do the trail (working in time for taking photos and snacking on blueberries). The trailhead is at 49 40.129 N and 54 43.600 W.
Since it was still mid-morning we decided to do the Spiller’s Cove to Codjack’s Cove trail. You can do these trail individually or if you are a serious hiker you can combine them. Just remember that if you combine them, you will have to retrace your steps to your car or use two cars, since this trail ends at a different trailhead. The new trailhead is at 49 39.670 N and 54. 43.855 W.
The first part of the trail follows a road and then branches off to Spiller’s Cove. Like the previous hike the trail is rocky and winds up and down but has some fantastic views of sea stacks and a rugged, cleaved shoreline. It is also further away from town so there’s a wild feel to it. We saw an osprey circling and although her nest appeared to be empty Fred said that on earlier visits this summer you could easily see the chicks. The trail is just over seven km and you should allow three hours to complete it.
The next day we hiked to the Top of Twillingate Trail which is a local highpoint that offers four lookout platforms and a tall tower at the top. The summit is about 110 metres high and gives good views in all directions.
It’s a popular trail — the guest book listed 1,200 entries for this year alone — and just three km, so it is accessible to many hikers. The trailhead is at 49 37.157 N 54 45.240 W.
After that, we headed to the Long Point Lighthouse to walk to Lower Cove and back.
The Long Point Lighthouse is getting a facelift this summer and is a fine place to go to watch the sunset or get an impressive view of Notre Dame Bay. The parking lot is around 100 metres in elevation and the viewing platform has telescopes for watching whales and icebergs. The trailhead is at 49 41.285 N and 54.48.097 W.
The trail does a figure eight loop and immediately descends to more level terrain where it heads north to the cliff edge before winding toward Sleepy Cove and Lower Cove. It passes by old machinery used in a copper mine which operated from 1910-20 and then goes inland toward Lower Cove. Then the trail winds back along the coast, providing spectacular vistas of the community of Crow Head and the Gunn Islands. This loop is about five km and, again, due to the amount of up and down you should allow at least two hours.
There were still more trails to do but we had only scheduled two days to sample them and we were very impressed.
“Can’t wait to come back to check out the new signage and hike those remaining trails,” we told Fred.
Keith and Heather Nicol are avid hikers and sea kayakers based in Corner Brook. Write to Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org