As you drive along the Viking Trail headed North in Newfoundland, you’ll drive through Gros Morne National Park; one of three national parks in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. If you turn left at Wiltondale, you’ll be headed along one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the province as well as one of the most well known geological marvels in Atlantic Canada.
In the two photos above you can see the hills of red rock known as the Tablelands. This Mars-like landscape is one of only two places in the world where the Earths mantle is exposed, as a result of the continents of North America and Africa colliding hundreds of thousands of years ago. Standing at about 700 meters above sea level, the Tablelands stick out like a sore thumb among the lush green hills and the Atlantic Ocean on the horizon. How cool is it that this exists right here in Atlantic Canada? We just had to check it out for ourselves.
The best way to get up close and personal with this unique landscape is by walking the Tablelands Trail. It’s not a long walk, nor is it difficult. From the trailhead, which lies about halfway between the communities of Trout River and Woody Point, the walk is only 2 km in and 2 km back out on mostly level terrain.
The trail takes you into a valley where a small stream is running down from the top of the Tablelands hills. This is runoff from the melting snow, some of which is still visible even by late August, which is when we were there. The valley forms a wind tunnel, so even on the calmest days, you have to hold onto your hat. It’s hard to find words to describe the landscape other than ‘extraterrestrial’ because it certainly doesn’t look like planet Earth. The view is absolutely breathtaking.
There are guided hikes that leave from the trailhead every day at 10 am, so if you want to learn more about the science and geology of the area that would be a good experience. We decided to read up on the facts beforehand and hike it solo. Try to take a moment and really appreciate where you are and how incredible it is to be somewhere so unique. And if you’re from NL, don’t take for granted the fact that you have the privilege to call this place home.
Try to take a moment and really appreciate where you are and how incredible it is to be somewhere so unique. And if you’re from NL, don’t take for granted the fact that you have the privilege to call this place home.
If you are planning on staying in the area, I highly recommend the Trout River Campground in the community of Trout River. It belongs to the national park so the fee is $25.50. They have clean washrooms, showers with hot water, tidy campsites, and even wifi in the communal kitchen. Pro tip: try to get campsite 44. It has the best views in the whole campground of the backside of the Tablelands (pictured above)!
Just before you arrive at the campground you’ll pass a day-use area at Trout River Pond. You can swim here or take a zodiac boat tour up the pond, which is quite large. Here you can also find the trailhead for the Trout River Pond Trail, which I haven’t done. If you have, let me know how it is by commenting below!
The best restaurant in the area is The Old Loft in Woody Point. It is SO good and the atmosphere is just lovely. While you’re there I also highly suggest you hike the Green Gardens trail. It is honestly my favourite hiking trail in the province. Although this summer was my first time exploring the Tablelands, I had been in Trout River and Woody Point before. Check out that adventure here.
This was one of the most interesting, enjoyable, and relaxing adventures of my summer. Chilling out at our campsite in Trout River with a couple growlers of local beer was exactly what I needed before summer ends. Plus, how cute was our little bunny friend?! He hung out around our tent the whole time we were there.
Have you done any of these adventures? What was your favorite part? Let us know in the comments below or by reaching out on social media, @twowildtides. We love hearing from our readers. Please feel free to ask us any questions as well, we want to help you have the best adventures possible!
Check out our other adventures on the west coast of Newfoundland: