Heading to Gros Morne National Park and looking for the best hikes to explore the area’s unique landscapes? We spent 10 days hiking over 40 miles in Gros Morne National Park and discovered many amazing trails along the way. In this guide, we break down everything you need to know for the best adventures hiking in Gros Morne National Park!
About Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne National Park holds within its boundaries an impressive and diverse landscape of mountains, dramatic fjords, and rocky cliffs carved by glaciers as they moved out to the sea millennia ago.
This rugged coastline on Newfoundland’s western side is the perfect destination for nature lovers who seek the opportunity to explore forests and grasslands where moose and woodland caribou roam, walk on the Earth’s mantle, camp on a volcanic sea coast, or tour through fjords where you can see the scars of Earth’s history.
Named for a time when the French fished along this area of Newfoundland’s coast, Gros Morne most likely means “big isolated hill” and within moments of driving into the park’s boundaries it is easy to see how this place distinguishes itself from the rest of the island (or as locals refer to it, “the rock”).
The park is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as one of the Earth’s first 100 Geological sites named by the International Union of Geological Sciences.
Covering over 1,8000 square kilometers (or around 700 square miles), there is no shortage of adventures to be had in Gros Morne National Park. We spent 10 days in the park and were completely in awe the entire time. It offers great views, but also a sense and reminder that the story is so much bigger than yourself.
The park is truly a can’t miss destination that is hard to capture with words written on a page. You’ll just have to experience it for yourself!
Where is Gros Morne National Park located?
Located in Atlantic Canada, Gros Morne National Park is located on the western side of Newfoundland, Canada’s most eastern province.
Being located on the island of Newfoundland, Gros Morne National Park is remote and not the most straightforward destination to visit.
You can fly to the island and rent a car, but a popular way to arrive is by ferry so that you can arrive with a vehicle with which to explore…you won’t find much public transportation on the island outside of St. John’s!
Ferry from North Syndey Nova Scotia to Port aux Basques Newfoundland: 7-hour ferry ride, followed by a roughly 3.5-hour drive to Gros Morne
Labrador Ferry from Blanc Sablon Quebec to St Barbe Newfoundland: 1-hour 45-minute ferry ride, followed by a roughly 2-hour drive south to Gros Morne
Nearest airport: Deer Lake (YDF), which is a 30-minute drive from the park along the Viking Trail
Visiting Gros Morne
Gros Morne National Park is part of Parks Canada and does require an entrance fee.
The park is split into sections, with the distinctive Tablelands section of serpentine barrens being about a 1-hour drive from the more northern section characterized by fjords and the Long Range mountains.
Admission Cost ($CAD):
If you will be visiting multiple Canada National Parks in the course of a year, a Discovery Pass may be a better deal. These work at most Canada Parks destinations, including National Parks and National Historic Sites. They can be ordered online or purchased at many Canada Parks locations, including Gros Morne. They are valid for 1 year.
Discovery Pass Cost ($CAD):
Reduced service fees apply from November 1 to May 15 for the winter months
Hiking in Gros Morne National Park
When hiking in Gros Morne National Park, the best thing you can do is prepare for adverse or rapidly changing weather conditions.
Sitting on the western side of Newfoundland, this area is prone to ample rainfall throughout the year. While this creates a lush green scenery that is truly stunning, it can also lead to some wet and muddy hikes.
Based on our experience and what the locals confirmed, July and early August bring the most mild and pleasant weather to “the rock.”
We did have some wet days and saw plenty of fog, but if you have the right gear and are prepared, it won’t stop you from enjoying this truly incredible National Park.
Top Trails in Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne Mountain Trails (Base and Summit)
One of the defining features of Gros Morne’s landscape is the flat, bare-top mountain that bears the park’s name.
Rocky and barren, there are two ways to experience this fascinating feature.
The trail to Gros Morne Mountain’s base is a moderate sandy dirt path that winds its way along a creek before ending at a viewing platform. There are plenty of undulations and some steeper sections, as well as a chance to cross a picturesque bridge and see a small waterfall. You might even see a few hares and signs of moose or caribou along the way!
This trail ends at the perfect viewing point for Gros Morne Mountain, with a small seating area to enjoy the views from the base.
This is also where the challenging trail up to Gros Morne Mountain’s summit begins!
As we walked over the bridge toward the mountain towering above, we joked about a section of loose rock (known as scree) being the trail.
Little did we know, that is exactly where we were headed.
The ascent to the summit is a steep climb up loose rock that is quite the adventure. It is also one of those trails where the top always seems just out of reach…
The good news is that the views are absolutely worth it. When you finally reach the top you are rewarded with expansive views of Gros Morne National Park and the Long Range Mountains, stretching out to the water, and overlooking fjords, valleys, and ponds.
Signs warn that the descent is long and grueling and honestly, we thought that as avid hikers it would not phase us. We were wrong.
The descent is long.
The kind of long where it feels like it may never end and you start to wonder if you accidentally went off trail. The rocky uneven path is unforgiving and is a test of your patience and perseverance…especially if you experience the bugs like we did as well.
Hiking to the summit of Gros Morne Mountain should be reserved for experienced hikers and should not be attempted if you are short on daylight or if the weather looks poor and you cannot see the summit clearly from below. While challenging, it is wonderfully rewarding and an experience we are so glad we took on! Depending on your hiking skill level, we recommend at least hiking the trail to the base during your visit to the park.
Gros Morne Mountain Base Trail
- Distance: 2.8 miles out and back
- Estimated Time: 2 hours
Gros Morne Mountain Summit Trail:
- Distance: 10.5 mile loop
- Elevation Gain: 2,959 feet
- Estimated Time: 6-7 hours
- Important Note: The trail from the base platform to the summit is closed from May 1 to the last weekend in June each year to protect wildlife!
The Tablelands is the part of the park that helped it claim the honor of being a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here you can walk a short and easy trail along the yellow-orange rocks that are actually the Earth’s mantle. Similar to what you would find on the surface of Mars, this is a truly unique experience that feels “out of this world.”
Formed deep in the middle layer of the Earth, the mantle you are walking is substances half a billion years in the making. It was thrust up as ancient continents collided, building the Appalachian Mountains.
This short trail can be extended if you want to explore more of the Tablelands and you can get a map from the Visitor Center if you looking to get deeper into this special landscape or even climb up to soak in the view from the top of the Tablelands.
- Distance: 2.5 miles out and back for the maintained trail; more if you explore further
- Elevation Gain: 675 feet out and back
- Estimated Time: 2 hours
Green Gardens Trail
The Green Gardens trail is a hike that offers a great mix of the diverse landscapes that can be seen in Gros Morne National Park.
The trail starts hiking up through the serpentine barrens of yellow and brown that distinguish the Tablelands, before descending into the boreal forest. Winding your way through the forest, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife (we saw plenty of droppings, but unfortunately no moose or caribou).
In the shade of the trees, you will pass a rushing waterfall before emerging out into a lush meadow that sits atop the volcanic cliffs that completely took our breath away. You might also run into the local sheep herd that grazes here throughout the summer months!
We also had the opportunity to primitive camp here, which was one of the most magical nights we have spent in a National Park. We also consider this trail a can’t miss Gros Morne National Park hike!
- Distance: 6.2 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1,230 feet out and back
- Estimated Time: 3-4 hours
Gros Morne Coastal Trail
Along the Coastal Trail, you can walk through wildflowers and tuckamore forest, explore cobble beaches, watch for seabirds and whales, and take in the beautiful coastline that sits in stark contrast to the mountains and cliffs towering nearby.
The Coastal Trail is also a perfect place for a dreamy sunset where you might just have a stretch of the rocky beach all to yourself.
- Distance: 3.7 miles out and back
- Elevation Gain: 167 feet
- Estimated Time: 1-2 hours
Old Mail Road & Shallow Bay Beach
Shallow Bay Beach is a stretch of any beach that is a great place to relax, swim, and enjoy beautiful views of Shallow Bay and nearby Cow Head.
This area has a playground, kitchen shelter, bathrooms, changing rooms, and outdoor showers. From the kitchen shelter, you can also hop into the Old Mail Road Trail, which as its’ name suggests, follows along an old winter mail road through the forest and dunes.
- Distance: 3.2-mile loop (if you use the boardwalk and return along the beach)
- Elevation Gain: 213 feet
- Estimated Time: 1 hour
Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse Trails
Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse is one of the most popular destinations in the park and it is easy to see why.
This picturesque lighthouse is surrounded by coastal tuckamore forest and is a great place to hike a few easy trails through the trees, get expansive views of the coast and Rocky Harbour, and make your way down to the water’s edge to explore some tide pools. You can also enter the house by the lighthouse to see the cultural exhibit housed here.
This is also a great location for a land-based whale-watching opportunity and a sunset! As we stood on the coast of the headland looking out at the sun setting over the water, we saw a pod of whales spouting rainbows at the surface of the ocean!
- Distance: 0.7 miles out and back (for the loop around the lighthouse)
- Elevation Gain: 42 feet
- Estimated Time: 15 minutes- 1 hour
This short, but steep trail winds its way up to a picturesque overlook where you can see both Bonne Bay and the Tablelands.
Once you reach the top it is a loop, where you can veer left to take the wooden path over the bog with better views of the Tablelands first or veer right to head to the viewing platform from “the lookout” first.
The platform has wooden benches for seating, as well as the iconic red Adirondack chairs that you can find throughout the Canada Parks.
The trail can be muddy after a rain so keep this in mind. You may also be likely to find low-hanging clouds or fog sitting around the Tablelands, which is typical for this area.
In addition, the area at the top of the lookout and around the bog can be very buggy so we recommend bug spray, woven hiking clothes, and a head net just in case!
- Distance: 3.4 mile loop
- Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet
- Estimated Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
Western Brook Pond Trail
The Western Brook Pond Trail is an accessible, wide, gravel trail that leads you to beautiful views of the iconic fjord that is the most popular attraction in Gros Morne National Park.
This is also where the Bon Tours boat tour through the fjord leaves from. We highly recommend this experience, as we found it to be an amazing way to truly experience the scale of the rock walls towering along the pond and get up close and personal with a place where such a dramatic natural history has occurred.
- Distance: 4.2 miles if you include the loop section beyond the main trail to where the boat tour leaves; 2 miles out and back if not
- Elevation Gain: 374 feet
- Estimated Time: 1-2 hours
Baker’s Brook Falls Trail
This trail follows a wooden plank path through a variety of vegetation and wildflowers before emptying you into a wide-open field with sweeping views of the surrounding mountains of the Long Range Traverse.
Once at the falls, you will see the powerful rush of water before you can actually see it. There are multiple sections of falls and two main viewpoints to witness them from.
The first viewpoint is at the bottom of a steep section of wooden steps, which can be quite slippery after rain. The second viewpoint is not as close to the falls but does not require any stairs.
This trail also features a moose exclosure (not to be confused with a moose enclosure), where you can get a great feel for the impact that the moose population has had on the boreal forest. These fenced-in areas keep moose out and it’s amazing how thick the forest is when the moose aren’t there to eat it (they eat about 50 pounds of trees each per day!).
The park rangers said this trail is a popular place to see moose and could be a great destination to look out for these magnificent animals that have been thriving in Newfoundland. We headed out onto this trail on multiple occasions near dusk, but unfortunately never saw any!
- Distance: 5.7 miles out and back
- Elevation Gain: 738 feet
- Estimated Time: 2.5 – 3.5 hours
Berry Hill Trail
This is a short steep trail right before the entrance to the Berry Hill Campground. We were able to hike this trail right from our campground and were surprised at just how beautiful the views were!
The trail starts out as a dirt path, but quickly becomes a set of steep wooden stairs, complete with handrails and one sitting area to take a break during the climb or let people pass. As you climb up through the trees, you are hit with a soft breeze coming off from the water.
At the top, there are two viewpoints, one looking out over the Berry Hill Campground and one looking out in the direction of Rocky Harbour where land meets the sea.
- Distance: 0.8 miles
- Elevation Gain: 200 feet
- Estimated Time: 30 minutes
Green Point Geological Site
This is a short hike where you can explore the unique rock layers and look for fossils along the shoreline.
You can also hike up on top of the cliff through the lush grass, looking out at the ocean and down at the jagged rock layers. This area is one of the world’s first official geological sites!
- Distance: 0.6 miles – 1 mile out and back
- Elevation Gain: 22 ft
- Estimated Time: 15-45 minutes
Berry Head Pond Trail
This is a peaceful loop trail that starts right in the Berry Hill Campground. We were able to hop on the trail just steps from our campsite, walking over a bridge and wrapping around the calm pond, adorned with rocks and wildflowers.
The tree-lined paths offer a tranquil escape in the crisp cool shade and the dock offers a great spot to sit and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of nature for a while.
- Distance: 1.2 miles loop
- Elevation Gain: 160 feet
- Estimated Time: 30-45 minutes
Little Pond Loop (Bakers Brook Falls)
This loop can be done in combination with Baker’s Brook Falls (and is a fair way into that trail), but we chose to do this on a separate occasion in one of our failed attempts to see moose in Gros Morne National Park.
Veering off to the right before getting to the falls, this trail is a narrow dirt path that is overgrown in some places. It takes you through a quiet stretch of woods before taking you by a peaceful pond with beautiful vistas of local mountains.
If you do this hike in the evening, you can expect it to be a bit buggy, especially around the pond.
- Distance: 6.2 miles (if you also go to Bakers Brook Falls; the loop itself is less than 1 mile)
- Elevation Gain: 810 feet
- Estimated Time: 3-4 hours
Cow Head Peninsula (Lighthouse Trail + Peninsula Point)
Originally settled in the 1800s, Cow Head has great views of Gros Morne National Park and one of the longest sandy beaches in the area in Shallow Bay Beach.
We highly recommend taking the trail out to the lighthouse and the point of Cow Head Peninsula, where you can get amazing views of the area where the ocean crashes to shore and the surrounding landscape.
- Distance: 2.0-mile loop for just the lighthouse; 3 miles to continue on to the point
- Elevation Gain: 196 feet
- Estimated Time: 45 minutes – 1.5 hours (if you continue on to the point)
Gros Morne National Park Hiking Overall
Gros Morne National Park is the perfect place for the outdoor adventurer and nature lover. We were in awe of how special this destination is. Hiking is a great way to experience the park, but there is plenty more to discover beyond the trails as well!
For a full experience in the park, we recommend at least 4-7 days if you have it! It can also be a good idea to plan for inclement weather as you decide how long to stay in and around the park.
PLAN YOUR TRIP TO GROS MORNE
Getting to Newfoundland
Where To Stay
Gros Morne National Park Campgrounds:
- Berry Hill Campground
- Green Point Campground
- Lomond Campground
- Shallow Bay Campground
- Trout River Campground
Private Campgrounds & RV Parks Near Gros Morne:
- The Water’s Edge RV Park, Shoal Brook NL
- Elephants Head RV Park, Trout River NL
- Gros Morne/Norris Point KOA
Hotels, Cabins, & More:
Booking.com is a great place to easily search through local accommodations and quickly compare availability and pricing to land the best deals. Popular areas to stay near the park include:
What To Pack
The weather in Newfoundland can be unpredictable and change quickly and bugs can be a real nuisance. Here are some things to bring with you:
- Mosquito head net
- Waterproof hiking shoes (trails can be muddy and wet and my Columbia Peakfreak hiking shoes held up amazingly well)
- Sun shirt (these are great to hike in to protect you from the sun with built-in UPF, bugs, and help with moderating body temperature)
- Rain jacket
- Sunscreen, bug spray
- Hiking backpack, hiking poles
Our Go-To Hiking App
We highly recommend extending your trip to Newfoundland beyond Gros Morne! Some other amazing stops we enjoyed on our 5-week trip included:
- Iceberg viewing and biking history in Lanse aux Meadows and St. Anthony (article coming soon)
- Icebergs, whale watching, and coastal trails in Twillingate (article coming soon)
- Remote trails, boreal forest, and wildlife in Terra Nova National Park (article coming soon)
- Puffins, amazing coastal trails, whales, and historic sites on the Bonavista Peninsula (article coming soon)
- Driving the Irish Loop on the Avalon Peninsula (article coming soon)
- History, Food, and Fun in Newfoundland’s largest city, St. John’s