Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland: Long Range Traverse

Bushwhack up a glacier-carved fjord to a lake-spangled subarctic plateau.
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Bushwhack up a glacier-carved fjord to a lake-spangled subarctic plateau.

The flight from New York is only three hours, but you’ll think you landed in Norway as you embark on this 26-mile, three- to five-day off-trail adventure.
Begin with a one-hour boat ride beneath 2,000-foot cliffs up the massive Western Brook Pond. From the east-end dock, bushwhack east-southeast, sticking to the stream drainage as much as possible to avoid chest-high grass and thick deadfall. Climb faint, ladder-steep trail 1,800 vertical feet to the plateau. (Tip: Stay just south of the waterfall at the gorge’s headwall.)
Atop the lush, rolling tablelands, turn right (south) and follow caribou trails around spruce-ringed lakes and across emerald tundra ridgelines. Fit hikers with decent trail-sniffing capabilities should be able to skip the often-busy designated tent platforms at Little Island Pond (mile 4.5) and reach more tranquil camping at Marks Pond (mile 7.1). Ten minutes southwest of Marks Pond, you must purposefully abandon superb caribou trail to climb southwest. Cross Pt. 629 (2,133 feet) over golf-course tundra, then plunge steeply before climbing a larger tundra summit en route to Hardings Pond (mile 10), or more scenic streamside camping at Green Island Pond (mile 14.8).
Immediately beyond Green Island, ford a 100-foot-wide creek, then follow more-obvious trail southwest past four large lakes and an overlook into the stony chasm of Ten Mile Pond. Your last big challenge is to find and descend a steep, brushy gully to your final campsite in Ferry Gulch (mile 18.5). (Bonus: Climb 1.4 miles of trail to the subarctic summit of 2,644-foot Gros Morne Mountain.) To finish, hike 4.1 miles to the James Callaghan trailhead; pre-arrange a shuttle back your car at the Western Brook Pond trailhead. Tip: Be ready to load waypoints during the mandatory pretrip orientation with wardens.
Season July 1 to October 15
Permit $83CAD/person includes park entry; reservations ($25CAD) recommended
Boat $56CAD; (709) 458-2016; bontours.ca
Shuttle $55CAD; grosmorneviptours.com
Map NTS quad 012H12; ($16CAD for waterproof versions; 888-545-8111; fedmaps.com)

Contact Gros Morne National Park; (709) 458-2417; pc.gc.ca

-Mapped by Steve Howe

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 41.1

Waypoints

LRT001

Location: 49.781106, -57.841331

Western Brook Pond Visitor Center and dock

LRT002

Location: 49.714513, -57.663516

Dock and the trailhead

LRT003

Location: 49.705955, -57.626658

At this waterfall, stay right (south) and find the trail at the pool beneath it.

LRT004

Location: 49.705241, -57.623176

Break out of bushwhack climb onto granite slabs.

LRT005

Location: 49.704924, -57.62167

Look back for views down to Western Brook Pond.

LRT006

Location: 49.704972, -57.613277

Round the low ridge and follow caribou trails south.

LRT007

Location: 49.685309, -57.618116

Mile Island Pond campsites

LRT008

Location: 49.663864, -57.614041

Turn right (southwest). Important: Do not follow the track east-southeast down Glander Gulch.

LRT009

Location: 49.662478, -57.627265

Marks Pond campsites

LRT010

Location: 49.654377, -57.622971

Important: Leave this good caribou trail and climb uphill.

LRT011

Location: 49.648831, -57.626953

Cross this saddle.

LRT012

Location: 49.627786, -57.638468

Hardings Pond campsites

LRT013

Location: 49.618654, -57.666534

Tackle a steep descent to an unnamed pond.

LRT014

Location: 49.611026, -57.689096

Large cairns mark the descent off tundra plateau.

LRT015

Location: 49.602735, -57.705272

Green Island Pond streamside campsites

LRT016

Location: 49.59448, -57.762671

Steep descent of gully; look for campsites directly below.

LRT017

Location: 49.595609, -57.768267

Junction with Gros Morne Mountain Trail

LRT018

Location: 49.600366, -57.768825

Pass overlooks with views into Upper Ten Mile Gulch.

LRT019

Location: 49.59409, -57.784029

Gros Morne Mountain summit

LRT020

Location: 49.594607, -57.76986

Ferry Gulch campsites

LRT021

Location: 49.584084, -57.796574

This is a major trail junction with steep scramble trail to Gros Morne Mountain summit.

LRT022

Location: 49.571464, -57.815887

Tip: These trailside benches offer good cell signals for shuttle coordination.

LRT023

Location: 49.565705, -57.832125

The route ends at the James Callaghan trailhead.