Since moving to the West Coast of Newfoundland we have been excited about getting up to Gros Morne. We have had the privilege of exploring the park in the past, but never when the landscape is magnificently transformed by winter.
The wonderful thing about visiting Canada’s beautiful network of national parks in every season, is that many of the hikes are different from those available to guests in the summertime. The snow pack provides access to regions that would otherwise be cut off due to bog or marsh lands. In the winter these areas freeze and become buried in snow, making them easy to pass in snowshoes or on skis. As a result there is a wide range of beautiful new paths available to those looking to explore.
As this was our first snowshoe in Gros Morne we did a bit of research for an easy to find route that would provide us with beautiful views while still staying on fairly gentle terrain. All signs pointed clearly to Burridge’s Gulch, a lovely walk that passes through a ravine that in the summer is filled with a collection of streams. Only a few kilometers into the park, this path is well used and was easy to locate for those exploring the region for the first time.
The hike begins with a moderate incline up to the entrance of the gulch which sits roughly 100 meters above the starting point. On snowshoes this approximate 1km climb was nothing to worry about, however it would be worth noting if planning this hike as a novice skier.
Once in the gulch the route weaves back and forth across the frozen river, and the return is a steady decent that offers beautiful views of the Tableland Mountains. So don’t be discouraged by the beginning if you’re finding it tough.
If, unlike us, you are more experienced in the backcountry and your idea of a good hike is one where you see no signs of tracks, and where there is no chance of running into another hiker, this walk isn’t for you.
After the Family Day long weekend there were lots of tracks from both skiers and snowshoers. And even on a quiet Wednesday afternoon we ran into other walkers. For us this was perfect as it meant we could head into the woods without too much hesitation.
As the weather was warm we opted to skirt around the trail when crossing rivers, but otherwise we were able to stick to the tracks made by previous walkers.
After our 7km trek we went for a drive further into the park. We had friends visiting from Ontario and wanted to make sure they saw as much as possible.
Although many businesses are closed in the winter, we were surprised to find plenty of options for a hot chocolate and some food in both Norris Point and Rocky Harbour.
Our pit stop in the town was well worth it for more than just the warming hot drink, while in the store some locals suggested we head up to Western Brook Pond for a chance to get a glimpse of the local caribou herd.
Although the herd was nowhere to be seen, the dramatic, wild, and windswept scenery made it well worth the stop. As the weather was beginning to turn, and we didn’t have too much sunlight left for the day, we chose to put the full hike on the back-burner for another day. Instead we headed in about one-kilometer, just far enough to enjoy the beautiful and vast landscape surrounding Western Brook Pond.