Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
382.00 ft (116.43 m)
Trail type
Shuttle
Distance
2.23 mi (3.59 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Along the coast of Newfoundland lies over 185 miles of hiking trails that traverse the Avalon Peninsula and connect over 30 communities. The East Coast Trail provides adventurers with access to the eastern most portion of all of North America. The Blackhead Path connects a trailhead near Cape Spear Lighthouse from a parking lot to the east with the small village of Blackhead, which is one of the oldest fishing villages in North America. The path itself is approximately 2.25 miles in length and covers a wide array of terrain from start to finish.

Starting around the Cape Spear location, the trail begins easily enough as hikers stomp along the soft lichen-covered shoreline. Below are the dark red-brown shards of rock that stab into the sea as the dark blue waves crash around to reclaim them. The deep blue water turns to a stunning turquoise as it makes landfall, having been tossed about in the North Atlantic.

Photo opportunities abound to turn back and capture pictures of the iconic lighthouse atop its hill. At this point, hikers are only about 25 feet above sea level, which quickly changes approximately a mile into the journey. Crossing wood plank footbridges, the trail leads into wooded areas that quickly gain in elevation and roughness of terrain. Few options for wandering off the trail present themselves as the brush on either side only allows for one person at a time to move through.

A clearing presents itself before returning back into wooded areas that reveal the sea to the east from time to time. Nearing the highest point of the hike, the trees begin to give way as the harsh elements coming in from the sea have eroded the cliff tops and left little more than the lichens and moss. The trail elevation ascends to 390 feet above sea level and provides a stunning view of the North Atlantic. From here the trail becomes somewhat difficult to decipher, but following the hilltop returns hikers to the trail. It is best to err on the side of caution all along the trail, as slippery, coastal conditions may be difficult to navigate and the north sea is a cold and unrelenting place. A sign located along the trail notes that at least 11 people have been carried out to sea without ever being recovered.

An additional trail branches off to the south of the hilltop, but it does not follow the East Coast Trail and merely leads back to the Blackhead Path road. Following the shoreline, the path slowly gives way to a rocky descent to an elevation of approximately 8 feet above sea level. The resulting trailhead is located within Blackhead Village and a quick walk leads down to the ocean, where a rocky outcropping is covered with swaying grasses and a beautiful view of Blackhead Bay.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Spring

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

One of the most easterly trails in North America.

Cons

Access to and from the trailhead is challenging.

Trailhead Elevation

25.00 ft (7.62 m)

Highest point

390.00 ft (118.87 m)

Net Elevation Gain

380.00 ft (115.82 m)

Features

Big vistas
Geologically significant
Wildflowers
Bird watching
Lighthouse

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland and Labrador

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