Preparing for Hiking in Gros Morne

We have owned and operated Gros Morne Adventures since 1990 and over this time have acquired a fair bit of experience hiking in Gros Morne National Park. We receive a lot of emails and calls from folks with various questions about hiking so I thought that I would provide some tips in this blog to help you prepare for your hiking vacation in Gros Morne!

Descending Gros Morne Mountain

Let’s start with the weather. We have an ocean to our west and mountains to the east so be prepared for quickly changing weather conditions and extremes of wind and precipitation. Invest in good breathable raingear. Will you always have rain? The answer is no, in fact you could have all clear, dry weather the whole time you are here however it is best to be prepared. Expect temperatures in July and August to reach 20°-25°C, but don’t be surprised if temperatures reach 30°C or drop to 15°C. For the most part, temperatures are ideal for hiking, even in mid-summer. It is rarely too hot and we have very little humidity.

Another common question is what to wear and what to take in a pack. I hike most days in shorts and t-shirt made of a quick drying material. At lunch, I pull on my lightweight fleece top. I always carry a light weight hat and gloves, rain jacket and pants, and if the temperature forecast is cool, I will carry a second fleece top in my pack. I always bring a hearty lunch with granola bars and GORP as a back-up for that extra boost of energy that I often need towards the late afternoon. This especially comes in handy on cooler days. I carry 2 litres of water as a minimum and on warm days I will take an extra litre. I have also been known to take a thermos of tea, even in mid-summer. I carry a first aid kit and a cell phone. Be aware that some trails have no cell phone coverage. If you are a Rogers subscriber, check to see if you will have service in Gros Morne, as of the time of writing this blog (May 2013) there is no coverage.

Do you really need hiking boots? Well, my answer is yes! Newfoundland is referred to as “the rock” for a reason; you will hike on a lot of rocky terrain! I prefer leather, above the ankle hiking boots as they provide waterproofness and good ankle support. Look for a good tread and avoid a completely flat sole from toe to heel as I find this type of sole can be very slippery. I use hiking poles too and I find it helps take some of the pressure off my knees. Another point that you should be aware of, trails in Gros Morne tend to be steep with very few switchbacks, hence my footwear and hiking pole recommendations as they will aid in the steep ascents and descents.

Winterhouse Brook Canyon - Tablelands

My final tip is “seize the moment”! If you happen to be the type that likes to pre-plan your itinerary before you arrive in a destination… well, I have bad news. It is unlikely that you will be able to stick to your exact plans due to weather. Your best bet is to make a list of all the things that you would like to see and do. When you arrive in the park, get the forecast and pick something from your list for the following day that will work with the forecast and just keep doing this for the entire time that you are here. Whenever I am guiding a group, I always try to get in the high mountain hikes and Western Brook Pond fjord tour early in the week as we want clear days for these activities. Then I fall back on my other hiking trails that don’t require stellar weather like Baker’s Brook Falls – 10km return, easy; Trout River Pond – 14km return, moderate; and Green Gardens – 9km to beach (moderate) and back or 15.5 km entire loop, challenging. The full loop has lots of ups and downs and a river ford so be aware that the amount of effort to complete this full loop is similar to hiking Gros Morne Mountain!

Overlooking Ten Mile Pond from Gros Morne Mountain

I hope this blog is helpful in planning your hiking vacation in Gros Morne. If you have any hiking questions, please send them along and I will do my best to answer them for you.