Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland: Long Range Traverse
Bushwhack up a glacier-carved fjord to a lake-spangled subarctic plateau.
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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
- Distance: 41.1
Location: 49.781106, -57.841331
Western Brook Pond Visitor Center and dock
Location: 49.714513, -57.663516
Dock and the trailhead
Location: 49.705955, -57.626658
At this waterfall, stay right (south) and find the trail at the pool beneath it.
Location: 49.705241, -57.623176
Break out of bushwhack climb onto granite slabs.
Location: 49.704924, -57.62167
Look back for views down to Western Brook Pond.
Location: 49.704972, -57.613277
Round the low ridge and follow caribou trails south.
Location: 49.685309, -57.618116
Mile Island Pond campsites
Location: 49.663864, -57.614041
Turn right (southwest). Important: Do not follow the track east-southeast down Glander Gulch.
Location: 49.662478, -57.627265
Marks Pond campsites
Location: 49.654377, -57.622971
Important: Leave this good caribou trail and climb uphill.
Location: 49.648831, -57.626953
Cross this saddle.
Location: 49.627786, -57.638468
Hardings Pond campsites
Location: 49.618654, -57.666534
Tackle a steep descent to an unnamed pond.
Location: 49.611026, -57.689096
Large cairns mark the descent off tundra plateau.
Location: 49.602735, -57.705272
Green Island Pond streamside campsites
Location: 49.59448, -57.762671
Steep descent of gully; look for campsites directly below.
Location: 49.595609, -57.768267
Junction with Gros Morne Mountain Trail
Location: 49.600366, -57.768825
Pass overlooks with views into Upper Ten Mile Gulch.
Location: 49.59409, -57.784029
Gros Morne Mountain summit
Location: 49.594607, -57.76986
Ferry Gulch campsites
Location: 49.584084, -57.796574
This is a major trail junction with steep scramble trail to Gros Morne Mountain summit.
Location: 49.571464, -57.815887
Tip: These trailside benches offer good cell signals for shuttle coordination.
Location: 49.565705, -57.832125
The route ends at the James Callaghan trailhead.