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Please help me sort out the many nooks and crannies in Newfoundland

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We're just starting to think of a two week trip to Newfoundland next summer, and find it a bit overwhelming. I've read the posts here and have the 2004 Travel Guide from the province.

We'd have a group of perhaps 10 people, most from the US, but a few from Scotland, and would probably arrive in St John's.

Like to spend 3 or 4 nights in one spot and explore from there before moving on to a new location. Especially want to include hiking along the coast. What's a central location to do the East Coast Trail?

Will probably go as far as Twillingate, but there are so many little coves (my nooks and crannies) and islands along the coast, that we wonder which are especially scenic and good to use as a base. Unfortunately, a map just doesn't tell you that.

Any thoughts on the area from St John's to Twillingate vs the scenery, etc on the southern coast?

Thanks for any help or suggstons you have.

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    Hi Clousie:

    Since you are arriving in St. John's then I would suggest exploring the city and surround for the first few days. If you are interested in hiking you can pick up the east coast trail from a number of points one being Fort Amherst, another at Blackhead, etc. Afterward I would probably do the Irish Loop then meander to Bonavista & Trinity for a few days, then on to Twillingate. Not to be missed in your two week excursion is Gros Morne on the west coast particularly if you like hiking. There are great B & B's to stay along the way. June, July and August are the most favourable in terms of weather. You can switch this around and start on the west coast and make your way back to St. John's. In late July and early August there are alot of music festivals, sporting events, etc. in St. John's. As for scenic routes just get in the car and drive, Newfoundland is one big scenic route!Enjoy.

    Denise

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    We rented a house in Mobil just south of Witless Bay and from there we did some great hikes on the East Coast Trail and loved it. From the house we hiked the Tinker Point part of the trail. But our favourite hike was La Manche on the Wast Coast Trail. It is not to be missed. Absolutley beautiful !
    So staying anywhere along this sectin would be good.Bay Bulls, Whitless Bay or Mobile ( If you are intrested in the house, let me know) . We rented it for a week and loved it. This whole section is part of the Irish loop.

    As for the next location, you could stay around Terra NOva Park. or before there around Trinity. We enjoyed hiking all over the rocky parts up by Bonavista.
    OR just north of Terra Nova, we stayed at Eastport and also did hiking from there.
    If you have time to see Grosse MOurne, that would be wonderful. How much time do you have and how much hiking do you want to do? and perhaps I can zero in better on what would be the best advice I could offer.
    You will love it there!!

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    Thanks Denise and Kodi for some ideas to start. We'll have two weeks and wondered if going to Gros Morne would be too far. We like to stay places for 3 or 4 nights so we get more familiar with the area, and for our last few years of trips have driven about 1200-1500 miles in the two weeks.

    This would be a trip for about 10-12 people; we call ourselves the "Lost Souls." Because of this, we'd like to find either lodges, cabins or houses that could accommodate a group our size.

    We're all adults, but hikiing abilities vary from those wanting easier walks to others preferring more strenuous day hikes. Of course, some can't pass by a store, especially if it's local crafts. I know wildflowers and birding are of interest to some, and they may also like a whale watching or berg watching trip.

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    The Lost Souls!!! That's great!!
    I hope you realize I meant to write East coast and not wast coast. I didn't mean to confuse you.
    The first time we went to Newfoundland we covered a lot of territory and did get to Grosse Mourne on a two week trip, but it was pushing it. If you want to stay 3 or 4 nights at one location, you'd probably be best to leave it for another trip.
    Oh I wish the house where we stayed was bigger, because we really liked it, but I'm thinking it would only accommodate 6 or 8 people ( I'm guessing).
    I'm not a really great hiker, and really enjoyed the easier hikes on the East Coast Trail. But there are certainly a wide variety of hikes for all levels.
    Good luck with your planning.
    Oh, and there are really good boat tours from Bay Bulls to see the puffins and whales. A real joy to see.

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    Clousie,

    You have many good suggestions above.

    For whales, wildflowers, birds and a chance of decent weather I suggest a July trip.

    A few of my favourite spots on the Avalon Peninsula within 2 1/2 hours of St. John's......

    For birds the Islands of Witless Bay are 'must see'. 300,000 pairs of Atlantic Puffins, a couple of hundred thousand Common Murre, Razorbills, Thick-billed Murres, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Black Guillemots, and 20 or 30 pair of Northern Fulmar amongst others.
    This is also an excellent place for whale watching.

    The other 'must see' birding spot is Cape St. Mary's. 300 foot cliffs, splendid scenery, a great interpretive centre and incredible views of Northern Gannets at close range as well as many other seabirds. This is also a good spot for hiking. From the interpretive centre to the gannets is a very scenic 20 minute or so walk. Beyond here there really is no path but with care you can proceed on to Golden Bay - a beautiful place immortalized, along with Cape itself, in the song 'Let Me Fish Off Cape St. Mary's'.

    Cape St. Mary's is part of a very interesting area of the southern Avalon Peninsula which has a tundra -like landscape. Your wildflower enthusiasts will find plants here that usually grow hundreds of miles to the north.

    Another wonderful place to experience the tundra -like 'barrens' is Cape Pine. Here you will find a scenic lighthouse and a seldom used entrance road across the barrens. This is a perfect place to take a nature walk or a longer hike amongst the mosses and lichens that cover the barrens. Your wildflower lovers will be delighted by the northern species and the fact that everything is dwarfed. Orchids might be only 3 or 4 inches high but in full bloom. The soil is poor and acidic and carnivorous Pitcher Plants and Sundew are very common.
    Your bird watching friends will find a pair of Blackpoll Warblers in every clump of spruce, American Pipits and Horned Larks everywhere and with a bit of good fortune, Short-eared Owls and Willow Ptarmigan.
    The Cape Pine road is also one of the few accessible places anywhere where one has a reasonable chance to explore the barrens within sight of a herd of Woodland Caribou. The caribou are usually around and if one is quiet they will usually tolerate people within 60 or 70 yards -sometimes closer. That is an amazing experience.

    More to follow later.

    cheers
    Jerry

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    Jerry,
    Thanks for the suggestions. It sounds as though there some interesting spots to visit south of St John's. Could you suggest a central location to stay while visiting that area?
    After that part, where would you suggest as another area that may be somewhat different for our next stay?
    Although I love to hike "through the woods" or where ever when home, on vacation I like to choose hiking trails that are different eg: great scenery, wildlife (fauna or flora) something with a destination eg:waterfall, nice lake, teahouse, etc. Hope you know what I mean.

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    We just returned from our trip to the Avalon Peninsula. It was fantastic...now we would like to find a way to live there...at least during part of the year. Cape St. Mary's is a "MUST." St. John's..see Signal Hill and take the Scademia out. Be sure to go up the western shore of Conception Bay. We went up as far as Old Perlican. There are beautiful places if you like photography too.
    Look out for moose..especially driving at night. They are not Bullwinkle...HUGE!
    Meet people. The people are the most loving, and warm I have ever had the chance to get to know. Take time for people over and above places.
    Have a great trip!
    SueJulene

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    Hi Clousie - You have gotten some terrifc advice. My husband & I are hikers and have made three trips to Newfoundland. Hiking in NL is wonderful because you are along the coast with many beautiful wildflowers and magnificent vistas. Just about every day you hike you will see whales off the coast. You will find your hikes take much longer because you will spend so much time resting and whale watching. Visit the East Coast Trail's web site at www.eastcoasttrail.com. They offer wonderful maps on the different segments of the trail system which follows the coast along the Avalon Pennisula. It is a couple hundred kilometers long. You can hike the entire trail or portions. You can do day hikes or link together several days of hiking staying at b&bs along the way, much like you can do in Europe. You can very easily spend your entire two weeks just in the Avalon Pennisula or perhaps between the Avalon and the Bonavista Pennisula. In the St. John's area make sure you hike/walk thru the Battery up to Signal Hill. There is a terrific trail between Trepassy & St. Vincents which goes along the coast from Cape Pine to St. Schotts. Going out there you can usually see caribou. At Cape St. Mary's again there is wonderful hiking along the coast - in addition to the seabirds we saw many whales and seals on rocks. The naturalist there will tell you about a beautiful beach that is about a 2 to 3 hour hike away. If you go to only one place I recommend Cape St. Mary's. I suggest you spend a couple of days in St. John's at a b&b to see the sites there including hiking at Cape Spear, Fort Amherst & Signal Hill. Then you may want to move down to Ferryland which is a good central place to stay for ECT hiking, plus Cape Pine, St. Schotts. In Ferryland, we stay at the Down's Inn. It is a former convent turned into a b&b. They could accomodate a group your size. Aidan the owner is a wealth of knowledge and was part of the inagural group who hiked the ECT. You may want to just spend a night out in St. Brides (for Cape St. Mary's) or even go up to Placentia which is a good location to head over to Bonavista Pennisula. We stayed at the Bird Island Resort in St. Brides. They have two bedroom cabins (with kitchens) right on the bay. Out past Clarenville (on the Bonavista) at the info center, pick up their hiking guide. Trinity is touristy, but very historical with lots of places to stay and a good central location. Memorable hiking there includes out to Kerly's Harbor which is an abandoned community and over the mountain to another abandoned community either British Harbor or English Harbor. There is another trial I think called the Sperlink trail which is rather short but with awesome vistas. You are in a pine forest but along the coast. There are lots of sea stacks. The trail is only a couple of miles but it took us a long time because once again we kept stopping to look. Out at the end at Bonavista (the town) the light house is great, plus again there is good hiking along the coast. If you end up staying in the town of Bonavista, I highly recommend the Harborview B&B. They have 4 rooms but two of them sleep more than 2 people. Florence & Albert are absolutely incredible hosts and Florence makes the best partridgeberry pie on the island. If you want to go further, don't go further than Twillingate or you will spend more time driving than hiking. It poured the whole time we were at T'gate so we didn't see (literally) a lot and there was not very much to do. I understand it is beautiful when the fog and clouds lift. We did spend time on Fogo Island which is a couple of hours east of Twillingate and that was incredible. You take a 45 minute car ferry to get there. Again there is lots of hiking there - you can get maps from visitor info. At the top of Brimstone Head, I believe you must be up in heaven as how else can you explain such a view. In Fogo (the town) we we saw some really nice icebergs. There are only a few b&bs on the island but you can rent houses (3 or 4 bedrooms) there for around $50CN a day. These are fully furnished with linens, pots, pans, dishes, silverware provided. They are not licensed so they are not in the travel guide, but the tourist info has a list of them and will call the owners for you. The town of Tilting (on Fogo Island) is a heritage town and most of it is preserved or being preserved. Again there is a wonderful coastal trail. From that trail we saw a series of icebergs out on the horizon. Magnificent. You will have a wonderful trip. Don't be overly ambitious with covering lots of distance. If you truly want to hike, that takes time. You will love the hiking, the views, the wildlife, the music, but the people will be what impresses you the most. If you are like the rest of us, you will be back!

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    katrinasl:

    Thanks for the detailed info on hiking areaas; that was exactly what I wanted to know.

    You mentioned that you've gone 3 times. Do you visit the same areas or have a particular favorite that you always include? Also when did you go? We'd like to see some ice bergs, so from what I read, July would be better than August. Guess June would be even better, but we get out of school very late next year. Did you have a problem with bugs?

    Down's Inn sounds like a great place, but alas, when I checked their website, they only listed 4 rooms. Since we're roughly a church hiking group, staying at a converted convent would have been a hoot, too. Just wondering if you happen to know if it had been an Angelican or Catholic convent.

    It appears as if finding one place for a group of 10-12 to stay together may be a problem. Fogo Island sounds really special, and I'd love to hear more about it. You mentioned renting houses there through the Tourist Info. Do you have a website or contact number for them?

    I fully appreciate your comment about not trying to cover too much ground. We like to really get to know an area and especially the people. In fact, on this trip, we plan to meet up with some friends from Scotland whom we met while on a hiking trip there.

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    Clousie - Our first trip was along the west coast - ferry to Port Aux Basques, Codroy Valley, Grosse Morne, over to Labrador Straits & up to Cape Onion/St. Anthony's. Second trip we flew into St. John's, tooled around there for a few days, went up to Trinity, down to Cape St. Mary's then over to Ferryland. Third trip our focus was Twillingate since we couldn't fit that into our first two trips, but we went back to our favorite places also. Took ferry to Argentia, went to Cape St. Marys (probably absolute favorite place), then back to Ferryland (very close second), stopped in Trinity at our favorite seafood restaurant but stayed out in Bonavista. Went up to Fogo Island, Twillingate, Cape Anguille in Codroy Valley, & then ferry from Port Aux Basques. Each time we have gone late June/early July (more early July) - usually for Canada Day celebrations. We have seen plenty of whales. Icebergs are unpredictible. We saw the most up on the Northern Pennisula. Last year we saw a few little ones in Witless Bay and a tiny one in Conception Bay. This year we saw two small ones from the town of Bonavista in the harbor and several good size ones (from a distance) up in Fogo Island. I hear T'gate is one of the best viewing places but we didn't see any there. I heard they left the week before we got there so they may have been the ones we saw on FI. I also hear there are great festivals in August, so it is a toss up as to the best time to go. Now for your other questions. Check with the Down's Inn. They have 4 rooms on the 2nd floor but they have a third floor. I met someone who stayed at a room on the 3rd floor, but I never went up there to see. At least one of the rooms on the 2nd floor sleeps 4. Also two of the room are very, very large, and I think they have cots if needed. It was a Catholic convent. We have not been bothered by bugs. In spots in the woods or bogs there have been some but not real bad, just a mild nuisance. I think with the coastal hiking the wind may blow them away. I'll look at home to see if I have info on the FI Tourist info. Also check the Nfld & Labrador travel guide for the email. There is someone listed in there for hiking info and she can put you in touch with the tourist info office. I had a list of houses one could rent there but I may have thrown it away. As long as you are not on Fogo at festival time you should be okay without reservations, although with 10 there is always a bit of a risk. Before we went we heard the TI office will find you a place to stay and that held true for us. There is a website for the island. I don't have the URL but if you do a Yahoo search you should find it. When we went to Scotland we learned the harsh lesson of don't be overly ambitious when you plan your itinerary. Never did we think getting around would take so much time.

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