The Spout is probably the best known attraction of the East Coast Trail. You can hike out to this unusual geyser over Spout Path in spring, summer and fall, keeping in mind it’s a 23.5 kilometre trail. The middle of winter however, offers a cool alternative to this long coastal hike: an overland snowshoe route.

In warmer seasons this 7 kilometre ‘shortcut’ to the Spout is not a practical option due to obstacles such as streams and soggy marshes, and of course the many blackflies that are out for your blood.

Today it was suitably cold though, a perfect day for the overland route with everything nice and frozen. It was still dark when just before 7AM I tied on my snowshoes, switched on my GPS and headed east from the starting point on the Southern Shore Highway.

Here are some images taken along the way:

The route starts as a well defined forest lane

The route starts as a well defined forest lane

Most streams and ponds are frozen, but it’s still wise to be careful:

Ponds are frozen solid

Ponds are frozen solid

I had a few unbalanced moments, nearly tripping over unseen rocks buried in the snow:

There are many rock patches to navigate

There are many rock patches to navigate

Open areas are a pleasure to traverse

Open areas are a pleasure to traverse

As you may have noticed by now, I took all these shots on the way back, with light coming from the afternoon sun. It’s especially evident looking at the ocean in this next shot:

The last third of the way, it's all downhill

The last third of the way, it’s all downhill

These pink markers are very helpful, and easy to spot from a distance:

Bright pink markers along the last few kilometres toward the coast

Bright pink markers along the last few kilometres toward the coast

The last kilometre: shrubs and forest

The last kilometre: shrubs and forest

Just before you hit the coast, there are several areas where fallen trees obscure the trail:

Storm damage near the very end

Storm damage near the very end

After about 3 hours, I arrived at the winter Spout:

Me at the frozen winter Spout - Spout Path

Me at the frozen winter Spout – Spout Path

Spray from the Spout had completely frozen the surrounding landscape, the snow was glazed with a thick layer of ice which made the going kind of slippery.

It felt good to take off my snowshoes for a minute.

Snowshoes - Spout Path

Snowshoes – Spout Path

After lunch with a view, it was time for the 7k return trip to the main road…