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Backpacker Magazine – September 2008

Trek Newfoundland's Long Range Traverse

Coastal views, mountains, and fjords await on the Long Range Traverse in Newfoundland's Gros Morne National Park.

by: Conor Mihell


Locals simply call this Montana-size island of serrated granite 20 miles off the coast of Quebec "The Rock." And with more than 10,000 miles of craggy coastline and only 12 people per square mile, The Rock, Canada's easternmost point, is a backpacker's dream. The best route is the five-day Long Range Traverse in 446,080-acre Gros Morne National Park (GMNP), where you'll encounter edge-of-the-world views of coastal fjords sparkling between 1,000-foot granite cliffs at every bend.

After a mandatory park orientation, drive 12 miles to the trailhead at Western Brook Pond. Load up and walk the easy two-mile trail to the shore of a freshwater fjord. From here, take an hour-long ferry to the start of the Long Range Traverse, which begins with a 2,000-foot climb that switchbacks straight up from the boat dock. Once above treeline, where harsh, icy winds have scoured the glacier-carved landscape, you'll feel like you're walking on the moon.

Come with solid map-and-compass skills, because there isn't a single trail marker along this 20-mile route, which is packed with side trips and navigational puzzles. The meandering footpaths of caribou draw you away from the proper course. Fog cloaks the highlands in June and July. You'll also have to pick your way around the countless peat bogs and brooks that dot the plateau.

Five designated wilderness campsites, each a day's hike apart, line the traverse in spruce groves tucked between knolls of heather and bare-bone granite. For ocean views, side-hike to the cliffy edges of Ten Mile Pond and Baker Brook Pond; for views of everything else, summit the 2,644-foot crumbling granite dome of Gros Morne Mountain on your final day. Top out, then wind downhill southwest to sea level and the park visitor center.

Permits
Reserve up to three months in advance ($25CDN/group, plus an additional $85CDN/person for backcountry permits). (709) 458-2417; pc.gc.ca/pn-np/nl/grosmorne

Map
National Topographic Series 12-H/12, ($12CDN, fedpubs.com)

Season
The LRT is open from July 1 to October 15. September is best, with highs in the mid-60s and less fog than usual.

Go Guided
Gros Morne Adventures offers a six-day traverse for $1,295CDN per person. grosmorneadventures.com




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Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
Robin
Oct 09, 2013

An incredible, unforgettable hike. Review, stories, and photos shared here: http://mylostwords.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-long-range-traverse-gros-morne.html

and yes, the bugs are a force to be reckoned with. bug jackets mandatory.

bb
Sep 12, 2010

Five of us did the hike in early August. THe little black flies were bad in the gorge climb (2 or us wore bug nets) but it wasn't bad the rest of the hike. NOTE. Choose your partner well. I wanted to use compass and map but one of us wanted to use GPS all the way....and he won.

MUpham
Jun 17, 2010

In July this is one of the buggiest places I have ever been. Way buggier than the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana or Presidentials in New Hampshire. Don't leave any skin exposed, the black flies, mosquitos, and deer flies will certainly find it.

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