This is a beautiful trail following what is left of Old Petty Harbour road. I imagine this road may have been the main road at one time. That must have been a long time ago because the road is slowly turning into a rugged ATV trail after the intitial kilometer.
The trail is about 7 km from end to end if you go down the big hill at Petty Harbour. I recommend you don’t unless you don’t mind a long and difficult climb back up. If you want to have a look at the quaint fishing village of Petty Harbour (well worth a drive) then start at that end of the trail and drive up.
A stream connected to one of the first lakes
Today’s trip took me the better part of the afternoon (approximately 3 hours). It could probably be completed in the same time if one were to walk briskly with few breaks. Indeed, I met a man there last summer who walks the trail regularly. Mind you when I walked beside him I realized I was almost into a jog!
The trail has quite a bit of variety throughout and many people opt for a shorter walk with kids or dogs. The trail lends itself to small kids as there are a lot of places that could be a “destination” for tired little ones and the first kilometer or so is level and well tended. The trail is not well known or at least it isn’t crowded. Today I saw 1 hiker and 2 ATVs and in the high season I would meet another hiker/biker only on the first few kilometers.
One of the many pretty lakes
The many lakes provide excellent scenery along the way
I started about 2 or so after packing up and getting the rack on the back of the car. I have to get a roof rack bike attachment. These trunk affairs with the multiple straps are a pain in the ass and barely safe IMHO.
Soju took great interest in all this and obviously remembers bike rides. He jumped right into the car already excited. Driving from Paradise to Kilbride is a short trip. Taking the kilbride exit you will immediately turn left and then the first right on Old Petty Harbour road. Follow this road until the gate at the end. There is rough parking there and the street is legal also but rarely would you need to.
TUBES, WATER, PROTEIN BARS, RAIN GEAR, CAMERA, PUMP, SWEATER are required for this trip
The first kilometer or two are the most commonly used by locals and dog walkers. Within the first hundred yards you arrive at the first lake. The lakes here remind me of lakes in Ontario and this is a perfect example. Large rocks with spruce trees or baldly barren shores are typical here. This is a perfect trail for my bike and one makes great time. Picking a line is basically avoiding the puddle dips which contain the larger rocks.
The steel buildings I passed along the road are used to store dynamite. When I say steel I mean reinforced steel. I suspect they are designed to contain an explosion by blowing the roof off. The trail is pretty easy and I passed about three lakes before the road started to incline and get rougher.
Soju was so excited that we were cycling that he lead the way bounding along at 20 kph or so. Usually he runs beside or slightly to the rear of me. Not this time! He made up for all those walks I DIDN’T give him through the winter. I happily discovered that he is awesome at finding the right path. He avoids mud and water, seeks the most direct route, and avoids all but the very largest rocks preffering the sand or light gravel generally. He ran at least 2 k at a good clip before I got bogged down in hills and rocks. At the first stop he jumped right into the frigid water and started swimming!
The road is basically a dry stream bed here with large loose rocks
The trail progressed into thicker forest of fairly mature swamp spruce. The forest is quite dense and I began to encounter snow on the trail. For me that’s usually a get off and walk situation and this was no exception. I was rapidly crossing watersheds at this point so the shady side of the hills would have snow still. As I encountered more hills the trail took on the form of a creekbed. In many places water was still running down the road. This meant larger, coarser gravel and more unstable surfaces rapidly becoming fist to head size rocks either half buried or loose on the trail. For downhills I was able to navigate most of this. For the uphills I wasn’t able to power myself up the larger roaks so I pushed myself as far as I could and then walked until the road got better or another downhill started.
After several lake views the trees fall off to more typical Newfoundland scenery. Barren rocky hills with stunted trees and low brush allowing for unobstructed sweeping views. The road becomes very rough here as bedrock begins to show on the road.
To this point the trail had been going more up then down. Rather suddenly it went down into a peat moss bog. The bog has been pretty torn up by ATVs around the trail as they seek to find solid footing during wet weather. A little further away from the trail it’s actually quite beautiful. I figure the difference between a bog and a swamp is that you can actually walk across a bog which you really can’t do in a swamp. The bog will have watery places that you may possibly avoid. They share that the mud is deep and plentiful though. Apparently this bog becomes almost impassable with wet weather and many hikers turn back here.
A bog is as good a destination as the seashore in my mind. I enjoy the birds and the stillness of a swamp or a bog so I sometimes make a swamp a destination for a day hike. I didn’t have to turn back though I did cover the bike and myself in muck.
After the boggy bits there are a series of dammed lakes which offer excellent camping spots. They have obviously been used by someone previously. It was too early to test the water but there looked to be excellent swimming in these lakes also. It was here that I rested. In the distance I could see the ocean crashing against the coast. I went as far as the last lake which I had already been too when hiking previously.
On the return trip my legs were pretty rubbery. This is my first outing this year so that was expected. Soju was now running behind me when I could get up to speed. It’s nice when the last few kilometers are easy as it was on this trip.
All in all a day well seized. I reccomend this route as a day hike or bike ride for beginner to intermediate riders. Today I learned to take many breaks to really take in the details and think about photos. There were many more pictures I should have taken to illustrate this story. Here are some random pics of Soju on this day: