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The East Coast Trail, a 300 km footpath along the meandering coastline of Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula, beckons adventurous hikers. Walk between vibrantly coloured fishing villages, watch for the breath of a whale from a rocky headland, and picnic on a deserted beach.
In the north, the trail winds in and out of turquoise bays, crawls over vertical sea cliffs, and delivers you to a cosy B&B for a home-cooked meal. Visit Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America, and the Witless Bay Ecological Preserve where you can take a boat tour, or just keep an eye out for seals, icebergs, and puffins from the trail as it hugs the Atlantic Ocean. Unique sea stacks, deep harbours crisscrossed by generations-old fishing boats, and a 150-foot suspension bridge will round out the southern reaches of your trek. But in addition to the spectacular vistas and varied topography, it’s the people you meet along the way who will show you the real Newfoundland, and they won’t be easily forgotten.
Fly into St. John’s, Newfoundland, and take a private transfer to Pouch Cove. At your first B&B, get a brief orientation to the East Coast Trail, its origin in recent decades as an established network, and its history of connecting the fishing villages and protected bays of the peninsula.
Overnight: Pouch Cove
After a hearty breakfast, you’ll start your hike in Flatrock at the south end of the Stiles Cove Path, which you’ll trek back to your new home over the course of the day. The perfect introduction to the East Coast Trail, this path offers overlooks into turquoise bays, wind-battered headlands such as North Black Head and Red Head, opportunities for whale and dolphin sightings, and the hidden respite of Shoe Cove, the northernmost beach on the ECT.
Hike: 9 mi +/- 1000 ft.
Overnight: Pouch Cove
Starting in the community of Blackhead, these two paths lead you across the heath, fen, and tuckamore that distinguish this rugged and weather-beaten landscape. In early season, keep your eyes on the horizon for icebergs, traveling south from the ice sheets of Canada and Greenland.
The Cape Spear Lighthouse, a provincial icon, marks the most easterly point in North America. Spend some time exploring this National Historic Site and learning about its maritime significance. The last few miles of your hike traverse broad meadows (watch for moose!) to the colorful communities of Maddox Cove and Petty Harbour.
Hike: 9 mi +/- 950 ft.
Overnight: Maddox Cove/Petty Harbour
The gentler terrain along this part of the coast is a welcome reprieve from the undulating northern ECT. The aptly named Beaches Path will lead you to many cobblestone beaches between Witless Bay and Mobile Bay. Dip your toes in the water, comb the stony shoreline for treasures, or simply listen to the lapping of the waves. Walk to Tors Cove via scenic headlands and past The Cribbies, two classic Newfoundland houses that you’ve probably seen in photos!
Rather than a full day of hiking, you may choose to book a wildlife boat tour of Witless Bay Ecological Preserve (booked separately, additional fee required). The islands of this seabird reserve provide summer habitat for over half a million Atlantic puffins. Plus it’s a great chance to spot whales, who feed close to shore when the capelin are rolling (a small fish that spawn annually on the beaches). Pair your outing with a short afternoon walk on Mickeleen’s Path and you’ll be ready to relax on the deck with a refreshment.
Hike: 8 mi +/-250 ft.
Optional Wildlife Tour & short hike: 4 mi
Overnight: Maddox Cove/Petty Harbour
Abandoned in 1966, La Manche Village inspires visitors to imagine a life carved out of the harsh climate and productive waters of its seaside perch. Beside the stone ruins of the village, a 150-foot suspension bridge spanning the gorge offers a thrilling (but optional) vantage point. The Flamber Head Path is one of the more challenging hikes of the trip. From the lush forest, side trails offer secret viewpoints and expansive panoramas. Jutting into the water, Bluff Head, Cape Neddick, and Flamber Head are joined by many smaller promontories prime for exploring en route to the quaint community of Brigus South.
Hike: 7 mi +/-1200 ft.
Overnight: Port Kirwan
From your third basecamp, in Port Kirwan, you’ll have backdoor access to the Spurwink Island Path, a popular highlight of the ECT. Best experienced by hiking out and back, the Berry Head sea arch is worth every step of the long approach – be sure to stand atop the stone arch and soak up the views.
Back at your B&B, don’t skip a stroll down to the docks when the fishermen come in. Watching their skilled hands fillet fresh cod and halibut is applause-worthy, and like everyone else you’ve met, they’ll welcome your questions and may even have a story or two to tell.
Hike: 9 mi +/- 850 ft.
Overnight: Port Kirwan
This easy hike from the village of Calvert out to Ferryland offers scenery and history in equal doses. The best preserved English colonial site on the continent, the Colony of Avalon is considered not only one of North America’s oldest communities but also the birthplace of religious tolerance and freedom of worship in the New World. Learn more at the Visitor’s Centre and archaeological site before hiking out to the lighthouse, which although now automated, is still operational almost 150 years after it was built.
An evening of celebration is in order to culminate your week of hiking accomplishments. Luckily, St. John’s offers a suitable stage; its infamous George St houses more bars and pubs per square foot than anywhere else in Canada. Enjoy live music, culinary delights, and an easily walkable historic district full of Newfoundland spirit.
Hike: 6 mi +/- 400 ft.
Overnight: St. John’s
The easiest departure point is St. John’s International Airport, but feel free to chat with our Adventure Specialists about your onward travel plans if you will be planning further adventures in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Stay 7 nights in hand-picked accommodations, chosen for their charm and comfort. While your nightly lodging will vary greatly, all provide unique character, excellent service, and a warm welcome. Please note that some are small converted homes and may have shared bathrooms.
As a summer destination with a short operating season, lodging in this region fills early. Booking early allows the best chance of securing your dates.
This trip is based on two people sharing a room. If you’d like separate rooms, a single supplement is required. If you would like to request a twin room (same room with two separate beds), please notify us during booking so we can request this option; this may not be available in all locations.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided on this tour, with the exception of dinner on the final night. Just as your B&Bs will vary, so will the meals provided by your hosts. All will be hearty, healthy, filling, and sourced locally when possible (seafood, for example). Dinners are typically served family-style, whereas breakfast and lunch are more self-serve. Because you’ll be on the trail each day, your lunch and snacks will be taken picnic-style. An example of the meals provided would be a breakfast of yogurt, granola, fruit, homemade bread and jam, hardboiled eggs, coffee, tea, and juice; a lunch of sandwiches (build your own), nuts, and energy bars to go; and a dinner of salad, fresh cod, potatoes and carrots, and ice cream with berries. Menus at all B&B rotate regularly. Please notify us of any dietary restrictions at the time of booking so that your hosts may prepare meals accordingly. Your final dinner in St. John’s is not included. This allows you to choose from available restaurants. There will be suggestions for food and drink in your route notes, and your hosts are always happy to make suggestions.
You may opt to add extras nights during this itinerary as there is plenty more to see, do, and hike in all three destinations. For further details and pricing, please ask us at the time of booking.
Perched above the ocean in a century-old farmhouse, Points East is a retreat from daily life, complete with goats, chickens, and the sense that you’ve traveled through time. Your host, Elke, was a significant force in the establishment of the East Coast Trail and is brimming with folklore and history.
The side-by-side villages of Maddox Cove and Petty Harbour are home to a set of thoughtfully appointed apartments and a classic Newfoundland saltbox-style B&B, both owned by Shelley and Bernhard who will not only offer the seafood off their own fishing boat, but also plenty of local tips.
This eclectic collection of rooms may surprise you at first, ranging from an RV to a storage container and a renovated family home, but you’ll be reluctant to leave after a soak in the hot tub and a multi-course dinner at Sharon’s table, overlooking the quaint harbor of Port Kirwan.
Ideally situated just steps from the heart of the capital city, this updated Victorian B&B has all the details covered, including delicious hot breakfasts and local suggestions from owner James.
This tour is available May through October. We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalized as this destination is popular in the summer months and availability is limited. Please note you can start this tour on any day of the week.
There are great reasons to travel to Newfoundland throughout the hiking season! In May and June, you will have a higher chance of seeing icebergs as they are carried south on ocean currents. Puffins and whales can be spotted most frequently from mid-May to mid-September, with the whale watching season typically at its peak from mid-June. If it’s berries and warmer weather you’re after, August is a great time to visit. And lastly, if you’re looking for solitude and perfect hiking temperatures, September and October are crisp, cool, and quiet. Do be aware that spring and fall weather does come with potential for variant trail conditions. There may be standing water on the trail and light obstacles, so we do recommend prior hiking experience prior to traveling early or late season. If you’re not sure when to travel, have a chat with our Destination & Adventure Specialists for more advice.
Navigating is easy using the Macs Adventure Navigation App. Your daily hikes will be mapped in the app with GPX tracks, route notes, and turn-by-turn directions. All of these resources are available to download for offline use, which is important as cell phone and Wi-Fi service are not reliable for parts of this tour. You will also have 24/7 telephone support from us here at Macs Adventure.
In addition to your digital resources, we will provide East Coast Trail Association maps for the paths you will be walking.
The hiking on this trip is moderate. Hikes will typically take 4-6 hours, averaging 7-9 miles over rolling coastal terrain. The East Coast Trail is a collection of paths on dirt, gravel, rock, and wooden boardwalks – although they are maintained by the ECTA there is a possibility of washed out, eroded, muddy, or loose trail conditions. For your safety and out of respect for the environment, please always stay on the trail. Be aware that many of these trails are not traveled by a large volume of people and you may find yourself out for several hours without seeing anyone.
At times you will be on coastal trails where the forces of wind and waves have caused erosion and cliffs can be overhanging. Always obey trail signage regarding exposed areas and stay a safe distance from cliff edges.
Our pre-departure information pack includes a detailed equipment list on what to take with you. This includes warm and cold weather gear, hiking boots, rain gear, and lots of other specifics. If you have any questions about what to take, we'd be happy to share our own top tips and advice.
We will arrange transfers between the airport and your first and last accommodations, as well as between different accommodations, with our local transportation partner. Any local pick-ups and drop-offs at trailheads will be done by your hosts.
Travel insurance helps protect your travel investment, your belongings and most importantly you, from unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip. For more information, please visit our travel insurance page by clicking this link.
Fly into and out of St. John’s International Airport (YYT). There are direct flights from/to many Canadian cities, as well as London and Dublin. We will provide instructions for meeting your transfer driver at the airport.
For US citizens traveling Canada for less than 180 days, no visa is required. You are required to have a valid passport with a blank passport page.
For non-US citizens travelling to Canada, an electronic travel authorisation (eTA) is required to enter. For more information about the eTA system, and to apply online, visit the official Canadian government website. See Entry requirements.
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalized as this destination is popular in the summer months and the lodging that we partner with has limited availability. Please note you can start this tour on any day of the week.
You will need good hiking shoes/boots, comfortable walking clothes (non-cotton is advised), waterproof raingear, a daypack, and warm layers. We supply a detailed packing list with your information pack.