I went looking for a challenging hike and I certainly found one. Anyone who knows me or has been reading twowildtides for a while knows that I love hiking. I’ve done many day hikes and will be tackling my first overnight hike really soon (anyone who has lightweight tent recommendations email me!), but Gros Morne Mountain was the challenge I was looking for.
The trailhead is off the Viking Trail Highway, just a few minutes before the community of Rocky Harbour. The signage is good, so you can’t miss it. Gros Morne Mountain is the second highest peak in Newfoundland at 806 m (the tallest is 812 m so not much difference!) so reaching the top is quite an accomplishment. If this article isn’t enough, the sign in the parking lot is a fair warning– it is a gruelling hike, the most difficult in Gros Morne National Park, so be prepared. Even though it was a hard climb and my bones were achy afterwards, I’m so proud that my partner and I finished it.
The trail starts easy as you cross over a little brook and begin to ascend. At 16 km altogether, the trail takes you in 4 km to the base of the mountain, 8 km up and around the mountain, and 4 km over the same trail back to the parking lot. The 4 km in was not easy, but not hard at all compared with what was to come. It is easy terrain with stairs, boardwalks, and smalls hills to climb up and down. There are a few benches and boulders along the way to break for water or snacks.
When we reached the base of the mountain, we realized what was actually in store for us: a steep, rocky climb over a kilometer long. We sat down for a few minutes to physically and mentally prepare and then we set off. There were quite a few people hiking, surprisingly a lot of children. I felt as if I was at risk of heat exhaustion and passing out, let alone a small child! But those kids persisted and some even passed us. I really admire families who are active and adventurous together.
The climb up the gulley was really hard. I would rate myself to be of average fitness, and I had to take breaks often, even if just for a quick second. It took about an hour to get up from the base of the mountain to the peak. The terrain is really hard to negotiate as it is just large loose rocks (I believe the correct term is ‘scree’) and the sun was beating down hard, but the view was a huge motivator. It was simply breathtaking. Literally and figuratively.
It was such a feeling of relief and success when we reached the summit. I was feeling kind of weak and really exhausted because I’m not used to such intense ascents, but a Clif bar definitely helped get me back on my feet and ready for the hike down. I highly recommend you bring a high protein snack!
The views from the summit and the hike down around the back of the mountain were magnificent. They are the views of the Newfoundland and Labrador tourism commercials and they really made me stop and say “wow, I cannot believe I live here.” I am so grateful.
The climb down is hard on the legs, knees, and ankles. Although it is not as steep as the climb up was, it’s still tricky and you have to watch your footing. The trail wraps around the side of the mountain, comes alongside a pond with a backcountry campsite, and back to the base. Over the last 4 km you must retrace your steps, and it is both the easiest and the hardest part of the hike– it is the easiest because it’s mostly downhill and nothing compared to what you just tackled, but the hardest because you’re feeling super tired.
My biggest tips for this trail are to wear sturdy hiking boots with ankle support, bring a light snack such as an energy bar, and bring LOTS of water. You don’t want to be halfway through this hike and run out– trust me. Would I recommend this hike? Of course. It isn’t easy so don’t do it if you aren’t looking to be challenged, but it is very rewarding.
Have you hiked Gros Morne Mountain before? How did you find it? What is your favorite trail in Gros Morne? Leave us a comment below or send us a message on social media (@twowildtides)! We love hearing from our readers.
Check out our other adventures on the west coast of Newfoundland: