For anyone wanting to get away for a relaxing enjoyable weekend to embrace the beauty of winter, you should perhaps consider one of the most beautiful places in Newfoundland. Terra Nova National Park is a place that is both beautiful and accessible all year round. We are in the midst of winter now so you may as well enjoy all the things that winter has to offer. Whether you enjoy snowshoeing, hiking, cross country skiing, mug ups, winter camping, ice fishing or snowmobiling, the park and surrounding area is the place to be.
After last week’s snow fall on the east coast the towering mature trees will be laden with snow offering up the ideal conditions to take in the beauty of winter, whether it be on snowshoes or on a snowmobile. The northern region of the park is a paradise for winter activities and apparently, history tells us that snow conditions in this area are radically different than anywhere else on the island. The amount of snow is greater and lasts longer, sometimes sticking around well into April.
The park itself is available to visitors for a variety of winter recreational activities however people should be aware that the park does not provide an active service during the winter months. Snowshoeing and cross country skiing is a favourite in the park. There are approximately 50 kilometers of ski and snowshoe trails, some of them groomed. One of the favourite trails recommended for this sport is Dunphy’s Pond trail which is a 10 kilometers (return) trail, taking you to the mouth of the park’s largest pond. This pond is a popular ice fishing spot as well, with ice fishing open from February 16 to March 24. There is both freshwater and salt water ice fishing available in the park however a license is required for freshwater ice fishing.
Also among the favourite winter trails are Louil Hill trail, Blue Hill Look-out, and Ochre Hill Look-out. Louil Hill is a four kilometer hike taking you through a beautiful fir forest. Blue Hill Look-out requires some endurance being a steady climb to the park’s highest lookout. It is four kilometers return trip. Ochre Hill is also a steady climbing trail but worth the view when you reach the top. The trail meanders through a grove of fir trees where “old man’s beard” hangs from the dead branches. I’m not sure what that means. I guess it’s one of those things you have to see for yourself.
For the extreme winter enthusiasts who like a real challenge there is winter camping available. Personally I can’t imagine that, but there are a chosen few among us that would engage in such an adventure. There is backcountry ski camping available in the park, some with enclosed kitchen shelters where fires are permitted. Winter campers will find tent platforms and an enclosed picnic shelter with a wood stove and firewood at the Newman Sound campground. If I decide to get away for a winter weekend, I think I will take advantage of the wide variety of accommodations available in and around the park.
There are actually two communities right inside the park; the little village of Terra Nova and the coastal community of Charlottetown. Both have become popular weekend destinations for snowmobilers and are available off Route 301. The picture perfect town of Terra Nova is considered to be the hub for East coast and Central snowmobilers due to its direct access to the groomed snowmobile trail system and the T’railway. You will even find warm and cozy cottage accommodations right there in the town of Terra Nova. Park your snowmobile right outside your front door when you return from an exhilarating day of playing in the snow. Curl up with a good book and a blanket and warm up by the fireplace. It doesn’t get more perfect than that.
There is a wide range of lodging facilities offered in communities located just outside the park. For instance Port Blantford and Eastport offer accommodations and provide some of the best snowmobile and cross-country trails on the island. From there you can take a day long trip along the railbed which will take you into the town of Terra Nova, or you can just explore the numerous woods roads in the region. Whether you stay in a cozy cottage, a rustic lodge or a 4 star suite at a resort, you will have easy access to trails and be able to enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds of the park region. If you like winter sports such as snowshoeing, cross country skiing, ice fishing or snowmobiling, pack a bag and head for Terra Nova. The conditions couldn’t be more perfect than they are right now.