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Western Brook Pond trail, Nfld - destroyed?

Western Brook Pond trail, Nfld - destroyed?

Nov 14th, 2018, 12:31 PM
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Western Brook Pond trail, Nfld - destroyed?

I have to admit, when I saw the photograph of the redesigned Western Brook Pond trail, I was shocked. Bear in mind it won't be finished until 2019.


Parks Canada insists the old boardwalk was unsafe because when wet, people were known to slip and fall - one person actually broke a kneecap, another sustained a head injury. And the numbers of people the trail accommodates has grown to 40,000 per year.

They also claim they will replant vegetation and will NOT pave the trail and will NOT allow (public) vehicular traffic.

But what do Fodorites think?
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Nov 14th, 2018, 12:42 PM
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opinion of park naturalist Michael Burzynski

Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Nov 14th, 2018, 03:13 PM
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I can see the need for changes though I donít buy the slippery when wet line. But that really is wide. They might as well stick up an ďExpress lanes/Collector Lanes sign.
xcountry is offline  
Nov 15th, 2018, 02:46 AM
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xcountry, You are certainly right about the width, it's now a road. And the replantings argument is nuts, one doesn't rip out vegetation that probably took years to establish in that fairly harsh climate and then make noise about 'replanting'. They would have done better to admit they botched it and be done with it.

Your point about 'slippery when wet' as being bogus is also spot on. New Zealand's Tongariro Crossing hike is a heckuva lot more slippery than any boardwalk and the ascents and descents at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon certainly aren't any less potentially risky. Natural park hikes cannot be made risk free or even low risk and still remain even a semblance of nature.

One possibility they might have considered (too late now, alas) was to do a 'divided highway' - i.e. a second trail about the same width as the original first trail, but parallel and a bit separated. The second trail would be of packed gravel and could be exclusively for emergency ATV use (which would have addressed the 'ambulance' argument - or for people with strollers, wheelchairs, etc.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Nov 15th, 2018, 05:15 AM
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Sue the safety of the boardwalk brings to mind this thread from trip advisor (which I have posted before) about the safety of a trail across the province at Signal Hill. I had complained about one section of the trail long before the TA thread was started. There are now chains to hold on to at the point in question. There were not when I first did it.

I hope the posters who wrote responses 6, 9 and a few others have not heard about "the dangers" of the boardwalk.


Last edited by xcountry; Nov 15th, 2018 at 05:18 AM.
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Nov 15th, 2018, 11:42 AM
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Hmmm seems the changes donít stop there. If I read this correctly they are changing the first part of the trail up Gros Morne mountain. Now if they would just get rid of the rocks and boulders on the way to the top I might do that trail again.


Last edited by xcountry; Nov 15th, 2018 at 11:44 AM.
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Nov 25th, 2018, 02:47 PM
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This issue was all over local media and online when the trails opened this year. Of course, other than park employees, no one knew what was happening until it was done, which made it all a bit of "sound and fury". It can't be put back--as someone noted above, vegetation grows slowly in Gros Morne. I know there have been many complaints over the years from people who didn't realize (until they arrived) that although Western Brook Pond has a boat tour, the tour is (was) only accessible to those who could walk in the 3 km trail. However, it's amazing that the decision-makers failed to realize that the (many) tourists who visit Gros Morne choose it because they want a wilderness experience.
I haven't been on it since the change, but it looks considerably wider than an ATV would need. I know moving boats and equipment in and out was difficult and expensive, sometimes involving helicopters, and I wonder how much of a factor that was.
I hope the reactions will make Park administration think twice about their goals and consider the effect of some of their decisions. I don't think I'd mind about the changes to the mountain trail; when a trail essentially becomes a stream in wet weather (we get a lot of wet weather), then it becomes a constant maintenance problem, and will eventually do as much damage as changing it.
Like many people who have visited, I did love that forest trail into Western Brook Pond, though. Sigh.
nfldbeothuk is offline  
Feb 8th, 2019, 04:18 AM
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Western Brook Pond Trail

That's really a horrible 'improvement' does the new trail follow the same route as the boardwalk? We were there in summer 2016, the wildflowers and other vegetation were impressive. there were gravel sections closer to the boat Is this new path in effect a causeway, did they allow for water passage under the new 'road'. If not it could severely impact the local ecosystem.
However something did need to be done to some sections of the boardwalk, the day we were there-fit people with hiking sticks-it was very windy and the water was sloshing over the boardwalk making it very difficult to keep your balance. Some people were having a very hard time, not slipping and having to grab onto each other to move forward. See picture of one section, adding more railings would probably have been enough.

Western Brook Pond Boardwalk June 2016
wanderingcanadian is offline  
Feb 8th, 2019, 08:11 AM
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Some anti-slip material over the boardwalk would've done the job.
Erick_L is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2019, 09:23 AM
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Hi, came back to see other responses since I last checked in.Thanks to nfldbeothuk, Erick L, wanderingcanadian and xcountry for weighing in.

xcountry/cold, I remember your post about Signal Hill, the addition of chains sounds like it was a good idea. I realize that authorities have to walk the line between destroying natural beauty with too much fencing, and protecting people whom their tourism advertising encourages to use the sites in question.

Wanderingcanadian makes a good point, that if a hike goes through areas prone to flooding, and also high winds, that the park authorities were under some obligation to try to improve the boardwalk in those areas.

I agreee that the boardwalk ideally needed to be elevated high enough so that it would never be submerged - I've certainly seen these in PEI - and that especially in areas prone to flooding and wind, railings either side of the boardwalk are essential. People went to hike, not to swim...

I don't know the budget for this project but it would have been nice had the park authorities published the estimates for given strategies for addressing the problems. Perhaps they chose the strategy that was cheapest and simplest to implement, I don't know. But if it were a matter of money, options for raising more might also have been considered. I would have happily paid a higher park pass fee to support the most sensitive infrastructure possible.

As it is we have scratched this hike, and a day from the Gros Morne area, from our upcoming Newfoundland itinerary. (we're still spending time in the area, just not as long.) I"m sure the boat tour and fjord is lovely but since they sometimes must cancel the boat tour for various reasons, that would have left the hike as a consolation prize and - while admittedly our opinion is based on photos and not actual experience - we've decided the revised hike is no prize.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2019, 09:54 AM
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Agree 100% ... Walked the ROAD in August it was terrible do not understand why they did this. In PEI Greenwich National Park they did this


A much better alternative to a 25’ wide road!!
tlc195 is offline  
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