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Life in Newfoundland

Fall hikes on the East Coast Trail

Colourful and blustery, fall on the East Coast Trail fills the senses like nothing else, so go out and enjoy it while you can!

For a little trail inspiration, here are some stories and photos from my own fall hikes:

If you like what you see, check out the East Coast Trail Guide, it will help you discover trails around St. John’s and make you fall in love with the East Coast Trail for good. 🙂

Fall scenery around St. John’s

Fall is a great time to be outdoors: quiet trails, blustery weather with beautiful big waves, rainy day waterfalls along the cliffs, and of course foliage that changes colours for a few brief weeks.

Here are some images taken along the East Coast Trail near St. John’s to get you in the mood for your next fall outing:

Fall waves crashing into the cliffs of the East Coast Trail – Biscan Cove Path

Waterfall at the suspension bridge – La Manche Village

Sunny day at the Spout – Spout Path

Boardwalk trail at Cape Spear – Cape Spear Path

Walking into Petty Harbour – Motion Path

Stay safe and enjoy your time outdoors! 🙂

Larry looks like Igor

Hurricane Larry is heading for Newfoundland, and its track looks a lot like hurricane Igor’s track back in 2010:

Hurricane Larry track – September 9, 2021

Hurricane Igor track – September 2010

Both storms are category 1, and both have September landfalls, with the potential to uproot a lot of trees and take out power lines. There are some big differences too though:

Hurricane Larry’s forecast calls for landfall tomorrow night (Friday, September 10th) with the storm moving by fast, bringing 130 km/h wind gusts and about 50mm of rain.

Igor was much windier and far wetter, bringing 172 km/h wind gusts to Cape Pine and more than 250mm of rain to Bonavista, while St. John’s had 135 km/h wind gusts and 132mm of rain. Those torrential rains washed out many trails, small roads, and even a section of highway on the Burin Peninsula.

I hope Larry turns out better, stay safe Newfoundland!

Update – September 12, 2021

Now that Larry has come and gone and the stats are in, I just wanted to add this little map from the CBC, which shows the maximum wind gusts measured along the path of the storm:

Wind gusts for Hurricane Larry

Quite a storm, with winds higher than initially predicted. Rain was not a big deal thankfully, so most damage was related to the high winds, a big storm surge, and powerful waves along the coast.

Live satellite view of Newfoundland

Before I go outside I always check the weather, and these days that means more than just looking up the forecast, I check out the (nearly) live satellite view of the area I’m going to. Here’s what Newfoundland looks like today:

Satellite view of Newfoundland – August 18, 2021

Satellite views like these are useful to me because I like to know what kind of cloud cover is waiting for me at my destination. When there is too much or too little cloud cover, I usually change my plans.

During this summer of wildfires I also check to see if and where there is smoke in the high atmosphere. In the picture above, you can see that both Newfoundland and Labrador are still pretty much covered by a hazy layer of wildfire smoke, while nearby Nova Scotia is almost in the clear.


Using the buttons in the bottom right corner of the screen you can toggle the overlays for wind, precipitation, and fires:

Satellite view control buttons

With the controls for time and date, you can look a few hours or days back in time, and you can play an animation to see where the clouds are headed (they don’t always move with the surface wind). In the top right corner there is a settings button where you can set wether the animation plays back 3, 6, 12, or 24 hours worth of recorded satellite views.

Storm tracks

Last but not least, when a big storm is in the forecast, you’ll see the latest predicted storm track as an overlay:

Satellite view of storm Henri – August 18, 2021

Looks like Henri is coming towards Atlantic Canada, something to keep an eye on next week.

Hazy sky over Newfoundland

As clear days over Newfoundland go, today was one with a side note. Clouds were absent so the sky should have been vibrant blue, but smoke from forest fires burning far far away made it all the way to the east coast and gave the sky a bit of an odd colour.

In the map above you can see how a ‘cloud’ of smoke now covers most of North America, and today’s satellite image shows what that looks like from above:

Forest fire smoke over Newfoundland – July 14, 2021

To the left and right you’ll see white clouds, but in the top of the satellite image and all down the middle that greyish haze is all smoke, which we can expect to linger in the upper atmosphere for a while.

Tonight we can look forward to a strange sort of sunset light way before the sun actually sets, one of the only perks of a day like this.

It’s capelin time!

It’s capelin time in Newfoundland, have you seen them at your local beach yet? Yes or no, the Capelin Calendar is the place to check for and share all your capelin news.

If you’re new to capelin watching, look for these 2 telltale signs that let you know if capelin have arrived in a bay near you. The first sign: an increasing presence of seabirds on the water, like gulls, murres, and puffins:

Seabirds know what lurks below – Middle Cove

Easily spotted from a distance, flocks of gulls will often fly around in whirling circles above shoaling capelin, sometimes swooping down to steal freshly caught fish off puffins coming up from a dive.

If capelin are present in great numbers, you’ll see the second sign: whales moving into the bay, feeding on capelin for days or even weeks at a time:

Humpback whale – below the Middle Cove viewpoint

These early (and awesome) signs of capelin are best observed from a viewpoint high above the water. The circling birds can be seen from the beach too, sure, but the whales are more easily spotted from a higher vantage point.

For their part, the capelin don’t just come to Newfoundland to be eaten, they come here for a romantic getaway! You know, just them and a few million of their most intimate friends.

Love is in the water – Middle Cove beach

When the capelin are ready to get down to business, trade in your clifftop viewpoint for a front row seat at the beach, where you’ll see masses of wriggling fish rolling in wave after wave, mating right before your eyes like a live nature documentary; it’s a true Newfoundland love story! 🙂

East Coast Trail Hiking Suggestions

The May Long Weekend is here and in Newfoundland that means going outside and exploring the great outdoors. This year more than ever, the fresh air of the East Coast Trail is an attraction in its own right, so why not go for a hike?

Hills around St. John’s

If you’re looking for a challenge near St. John’s, hike up to the Bawdens Highland viewpoint on Sugarloaf Path to get a great view of Quidi Vidi and Cuckolds Head:

View from Bawdens Highland – Sugarloaf Path

Late afternoon to sunset is a good time to be there, with the sun lighting up the hills from the west. Whales have already been spotted in the area so keep a look out for them while you’re up there!

If the Sugarloaf Path trailhead seems a little busy to you, just turn around and head for another challenging climb near the city, from Fort Amherst up into the South Side Hills:

View from the South Side Hills – Deadmans Bay Path

Check the Deadmans Bay Path map to find a fork in the trail just after the initial climb. Turn left to follow the East Coast Trail towards Freshwater Bay, or turn right to explore a side trail with great views of Signal Hill and downtown St. John’s.

Easy but scenic

If you were hoping for something easier but close to St. John’s and still super scenic, drive north and walk out to Stiles Cove from the Satellite Road access trail halfway down Stiles Cove Path:

Sunrise at Stiles Cove – Stiles Cove Path

With several waterfalls and viewpoints around the cove, this is an easily-reached location you’ll keep coming back to for years to come. For the very best light and less people on the trail, come early in the morning.

For other easy hikes near St. John’s, check out my Easy hikes on the East Coast Trail page (this Stiles Cove hike is #6 on the list).

More socially distant

Those that like to leave the crowds behind altogether should venture further away from the the city. The further south you go, the quieter and less-travelled trails get.

For a nice varied hike with lots of lush forest and clifftop viewpoints, consider hiking Flamber Head Path:

Cliffs and fog – Flamber Head Path

You can start this hike from Bauline East, La Manche, or Brigus South, and you can easily make an overnight stay of it. If you’re hiking group is small enough you’ll find several suitable places to camp along the way, including a basic campsite with tent platforms near the scenic cliffs pictured above.

More information

Obviously there are many more trails to choose from, these are just a few suggestions from all the great hikes available on the East Coast Trail.

For more trail information, trail photos, and some basic trail maps, check out my Hiking the East Coast Trail page.

Happy hiking and stay safe! 🙂

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