This was top of our list of things to do in Gros Morne and we really enjoyed the walk even though the weather wasn’t brilliant. Scenically it is a good trail to walk as it is one of the few trails in Newfoundland where you are guaranteed good views as there are no trees to get in the way!
The trailhead is on the road from Woody Point to Trout River, where there is a large car park and information boards.
The trail is clearly marked and easy to follow. The first part would be suitable for wheelchair users. It starts by following an old trackway but then swings away from this into Winter Brook Canyon, a large open area at the base of the mountains. There are boardwalks over the wetter areas. At the start of the trail there is a short “Serpentine Loop’. This is shown on the map in the car park but is not clearly marked from the main trail. It is a narrow path which meanders through the low vegetation and across small rock fragments.
As well as being a scenic walk this is one for the geology buffs as it is one of the few places where you can walk over the rocks making up the earth’s mantle. It is made up of peridotite which was forced up from the depths of the earth when the continents of Africa and America collided 450 millions of years ago.
Serpentine can be found in places where water has reacted with the peridotite and precipitated calcium. These rocks appear greenish with a white snakeskin pattern on the surface.
Peridotite is naturally dark in colour but contains a high percentage of iron which oxides on exposure to air giving the rocks an orange red colour, which means they pick up all available light and really do glow in sunlight.
The rock contains high levels of heavy metals like chromium and nickel as well as magnesium which are toxic to most plants. It is also low in essential minerals like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, as well as calcium.
Very few plants can grow on the bare rock. Where soil collects in hollows plants begin to appear. There were clumps of small trees in damper places where more depth of soil had accumulated. There were lots of Pitcher plants (Newfoundland’s National flower) growing in the boggy areas higher up the trail.
This was a very satisfying walk with good views. We enjoyed it, even though the weather was dull with low cloud. On a sunny day this would be a glorious walk.
There are some views of Tablelands at the start of this gallery: