Lots more families are choosing to spend their summer holidays in Gros Morne National Park so I am often asked for advice on fun family adventure experiences. Here’s my favourites. Having a flexible itinerary is best. Make a list of all the activities that you would like to do and once you arrive in Gros Morne choose an activity that best suits the weather of the day.
It is unlikely that it will be sunny and warm every day while you are in Gros Morne. With proper clothing you can enjoy many of these activities on rainy or cool days. I recommend bringing footwear that you can get wet (rubber boots and/or water shoes), rain pants, rain jacket and quick drying clothing that can be layered underneath rain gear.
Sea Kayaking on Bonne Bay, Norris Point Waterfront
Winds are calmest in the morning which means easy paddling and great visibility allowing you to see lots of Bonne Bay’s marine creatures. Our most popular family kayak adventures are the 2-hour Bonne Bay Paddle (10am – 12noon) and the 3-hour Sea Kayaking and Aquarium Tour (9am – 12noon). These activities are suitable for children as young as 5 years old. Fun in Rain or Shine!
Hiking the Lookout Trail, Woody Point
The Lookout Trail starts from the Discovery Centre parking lot on the south side of Bonne Bay. There are many great things about this hike including its length (completed in a couple of hours), the incredible views of Bonne Bay and the Long Range Mountains and the likelihood of seeing wildlife. It gives you the sense of climbing a mountain but with a lot less effort! A great add-on to this adventure is to take the water taxi from Norris Point across Bonne Bay to Woody Point. Often families will book a sea kayaking adventure with us in the morning and in the afternoon take the 12:30pm water taxi across to Woody Point, hike the Lookout Trail and return on the 5:30pm water taxi.Save this hike for a clear weather day!
Hiking the Community Trail, Trout River
At the north end of the community of Trout River a short hiking trail leads you out to a volcanic rock coastline. Cross the bridge at the end of the community road, pass between a private house and shed and take the wooden steps up onto a plateau. This is a community trail and is in need of some repairs so watch your step! Follow the footpath out to the point and return on the same path. Sections of the trail follow very close to the edge of the plateau so be cautious. The black rocks along this part of the coast are the same as along the Green Gardens coastline further north. From this vantage point there are great views of the community of Trout River and the fishing boats that come and go from the harbor. Plenty of seabirds soar overhead and you may even see a whale. Plan on 1½ to 2 hours return time for this adventure. A clear or cloudy weather day activity!
Hiking the Head, Cow Head
Once in Cow Head drive across the isthmus, turn left and head toward the radio tower, parking area and outdoor stage. The trail begins to the left (south) of the outdoor stage. For the most part you are walking on a narrow footpath that snakes through a forest of miniature trees. From an open meadow on the high-point of the head enjoy a panoramic view of the mountains, the coastal communities and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Continuing along the path watch for the old lighthouse on your right and at the bottom of the steps take the trail on the left (Point of Head trail) through a fairy-tale like forest leading to an open limestone bluff. From the bluff, follow the path down through the meadow and out onto a rocky beach. There are some amazing sedimentary rock formations to explore. Retrace your steps back to the parking area or veer left slightly at the Point of Head trail intersection and continue straight. Once you break out of the forest you will see the parking area to your right and the wharf and fishing sheds straight ahead. Plan on a minimum of 2 hours of adventure. Fun in rain or shine!
Exploring the Tide Pools, Lobster Cove Head
Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse is located on the north side of Rocky Harbour. From the parking area, walk toward the lighthouse and select one of the walking trails on either side of the lighthouse. Both trails are short and will take you down to the tide pools so you can do your hike in one direction and not retrace your steps. For more information on the tides and trail locations, ask the attendant in the lighthouse. On a low tide a rocky platform is exposed leaving numerous shallow salt water pools. Sea stars, crabs, limpets and sculpins are just some of things you might find. Fun in rain or shine… and be sure it is LOW TIDE!
A Day at the Beach, Shallow Bay
Warm water and sand as far as the eye can see! We do enjoy some hot days in July and August and on these days there is no better place to be than Shallow Bay beach, located just to the north of the community of Cow Head. Well known for its white sand and shallow, warm waters it is a favourite summer destination for local families. Ideal activity for a hot day!
Hiking Burnt Hill, Norris Point Waterfront
The trailhead is located to the left (southeast end) of the waterfront. If you want to take the shortest route to the top, turn left at every trail intersection. Otherwise, turn right at each trail intersection to loop around the hill and enjoy all three viewpoints. Hikers are rewarded with amazing views of the East Arm of Bonne Bay, Gros Morne Mountain, Woody Point, the Lookout Hills and the Tablelands. It is quite common to see bald eagles, osprey, and numerous songbirds. In June and July it is a great location from which to spot whales in the bay so bring your binoculars! Plan on 1 to 2 hours. A great clear or cloudy day activity!
Discovering the wonders of the Sea at the Bonne Bay Marine Station, Norris Point Waterfront
Memorial University’s Bonne Bay Marine Station shares the wonders of the sea through their fun and educational programs.Marine specialists guide tours of the Aquarium, venture out on Bonne Bay aboard the Seal Islander on a research based Discovery Tour and lead Tide Pool Walks at Lobster Cove Head. Information on all their programs can be found here www.bonnebay.ca. A perfect rainy day activity!
If your family enjoys camping, the Gros Morne – Norris Point KOA offers a great family friendly camping experience complete with evening and weekend programs. www.grosmorne.com/koa/