One of the reasons we chose to move to St. John's, Newfoundland was because of its closeness to nature. With easy access to the award winning East Coast Trail to hikes that take you through historic sites we are literally spoiled for choice on where to hike next.
A goal for me while we live here is to hike all of the East Coast Trails, even if it means just a portion of them. Over our two summers here I've been able to do quite a few so here are my top hikes to hit in Eastern NL (so far).
1. The North Head Trail
Though it is not an official ECT hike it is one of the most conveniently located hikes in the city. Whether you start from the top of Signal Hill or work your way up from the colour packed Battery, this hike is well worth the climb. I have only ever hiked this from the bottom up but for less of a challenge and first timers I would suggest starting from the top. Firstly there are hundreds of stairs that take you down to the cliffs off to the narrow entrance of St. John's harbour. Here is the perfect place to stop and take in the views. From iceberg watching in the spring to whales in the summer, this trail has got to be one of the best city hikes in the world, or at least Canada. Bonus tip: On a clear (no fog) day you can see all the way out to Cape Spear, North America's most Easterly point.
2. Sugarloaf Path
This is another St. John's hike that offers incredible city and ocean views. Starting off in Quidi Vidi you can take the easier bike route in or the more challenging rocky climb up to the summit. This cliff side path gives you clear vistas of the picturesque village of Quidi Vidi, including the amazing craft brewery that offers one of the best tap room views I have seen. After climbing the large boulders and hills you'll reach a set of stairs that will take you to an amazing lookout point. On this hike you can watch fishing boats as they leave the gut (Quidi Vidi harbour) and be cooled off by the ocean breeze.
3. Silver Mine Head Path
Even though this is number three on the list it is one of my favourite hikes that I would gladly do again! Departing from Middle Cove Beach you take a somewhat steep incline walk along the tree line to a more even plateau for hiking. Along the trail you will be weaving in and out of forest and shoreline, giving you a welcome reprieve of shade on a hot day. This is one of the ECT hikes that is known to be more kid friendly as it offers level and hardened ground. Bonus tip: Middle Cove beach is a known spot to watch capelin (small fish) roll in to "mate" in the summer.
4. Biscan Cove Path (Pouch Cove)
This is one of the newer hikes I learned about through my best friend Brit. She loves the neighboring town of Pouch Cove and discovered the hike one day while walking around there. I have yet to meet an ECT hike that doesn't include some type of incline at the beginning and this path was no different. Only five minutes into the hike you are met by a small waterfall and sweeping views of the ocean and the town below. This hike wasn't as clearly indicated at some others were but I suggest getting either the All Trails App or the East Coast Trail handbook to help you plot this or any other ECT hike. We managed to make it to the top of the first big peak and then decided to turn back as Brit's dog (and us) were pretty hot after the climb up.
5. Motion Path
Just a short drive out of town you will park in one of the prettiest towns in Canada, Petty Harbour. This place is known for the seaside eaterie, Chafe's Landing but the ECT is also note worthy. The start of this hike is no joke! It is a steep vertical climb through rocky terrain that will leave you needing to take very deep breaths. Once you finally reach the top you will be relieved by the incredible ocean views. Even on a foggy day we saw whales splashing around in the distance. This can be a very long through hike if you have a day or two but we just did a few kms in and back again which was plenty for us.
As you may know I have FSH Muscular Dystrophy so for me hiking is so much more than just a past time, it a triumph and a celebration of all the things my body does for me now and hopefully continues to do in the future. You don't need to have the stereotypical physique to get out and get your body moving. I sometimes call myself a #fathiker to show that "fat" people are just as healthy and fit as someone who has a smaller body type. I hope you feel inspired to move your body in what ever way makes it feel alive, just like hiking does for me.