Hike Town, Country & Coastline
The east coast of the Avalon Peninsula offers plenty of hiking and walking opportunities, ranging from a gentle stroll around a small lake in St. John's to a multi-day coastal hike. In and around the capital city, the Grand Concourse provides an extensive walking trail system. For the serious hiker, the East Coast Trail is both a challenge and a journey of discovery into the heart of Irish Newfoundland. There are many more trails all over the region, and a bit of research will help you choose the best option for you.
Day 1 - Around the City
Spend the first day exploring the downtown attractions of St. John's - a great way to stretch your legs, particularly on the many hills. Top among them is Signal Hill, home of Cabot Tower and a National Historic Site. It's accessible either by road or by the breathtaking North Head Trail, which starts in the colourful Battery neighbourhood and winds around the hill to the summit.
If more leisurely trails are your style, the Grand Concourse walkways will impress you with their variety. The loop around Quidi Vidi Lake is a popular spot, and you may catch sight of rowers practising for the Royal Newfoundland Regatta. The Waterford Valley trail starts at the Railway Coastal Museum and follows the Waterford River to charming Bowring Park.
After enjoying the city's sights, head back downtown for supper at one of the many award-winning restaurants, and follow it up with a night of musical entertainment.
Day 2 - Most Easterly Point in North America
Today it's time to get out of town and take Route 11 to Cape Spear National Historic Site, the easternmost point in North America. From here you can pick your route north or south along the East Coast Trail.
The Cape Spear Path is a moderate 11.5-kilometre hike south to Maddox Cove, and should take about five hours. Or, if you prefer to head back towards the city, Blackhead Path goes 3.5 kilometres north to Blackhead and continues on to Deadmans Bay Path. It's a total of 14 kilometres to Fort Amherst at the mouth of St. John's harbour.
A good resource for this walk is Hiking the East Coast Trail, Vol 1, which includes detailed maps and wonderful commentary on the sights along the trail.
End the day with a special meal at a downtown St. John's restaurant, and then off to George Street to celebrate.
Day 3 - Coastal Woods, La Manche and Beyond
Travel 45 minutes south on Route 10 to La Manche Provincial Park. A short, 2.5-kilometre trail leads to the abandoned community of La Manche - French for "the sleeve." It was abandoned following a devastating storm in the 1960s. Don't miss the waterfall, and be sure to cross the suspension bridge to the coast.
If you feel like a longer walk, both northern and southern options are at your feet. North takes you along La Manche Village Path, an easy 3.7 kilometres up the coast toward Bauline East. The more ambitious option is to continue south on Flamber Head Path to Brigus South, a six-hour, moderate-to-difficult 14-kilometre trek.
After your hike drive to Ferryland, the unofficial capital of the Irish Shore, to take in some dinner theatre.