To get my knees back into hiking condition and get the exercise regimen started, I’m hiking some of the shorter trails on the ECT. Blackhead Path has always been a favorite of mine so it was yesterday’s target!
First off, there have been some changes to the north end of the trail. Folks who have hiked it in previous years will remember the north end of the trail as being along a private citizen’s driveway in the town of Blackhead. The trailhead has been moved to the cul-de-sac which was used up to now for hiker parking. This is not an ideal spot as the cul-de-sac has obviously been used for dumping for some time: there is garbage, broken glass, and dog feces to deal with at the trailhead. Doesn’t exactly give one that ECT feeling.
That said, this is understandable to a certain extent: the trail was winding around the edge of a private property and there were probably privacy issues. However, the change is a massive one, affecting perhaps the first half kilometer of the trail. I find it hard to believe that the property owners in question owned the stretch of property that is currently blocked. If this is a new development, how was this land ever put up for sale? We need to put a stop to the sale of coastal property in Newfoundland or there won’t be any left for the people of this province to enjoy. The use of this section of land is strongly discouraged, with fences and a rock wall. The owners went so far as to cover the former trail in boulders. They really don’t want people on their land.
At any rate, the new section of trail is nice and meanders through the woods for 500m or so before heading back to the coast to join the former trail.
The other point of interest is the condition of the trail. There is a fair bit of mud and water as the last of the snow from last week’s storm melts. There is patchy snow on the trail but only at specific points: the new woods trail section, climbing Blackhead, atop it, and on the back end near the top. Elsewhere the snow has pretty much melted. Either way it doesn’t present an obstacle: the mud and water is much more relevant.
An absolutely spectacular, if a bit chilly, day on the trail! Pics below!
The new trailhead. mind the glass and garbage.
There is still a bit of snow on the new woods section.
A tunnel of fences keeps hikers on the trail.
A rock wall blocks the former trail. My guess as to why this was done is that the fence is constructed to the actual edge of the property. I’m not interested in violating private property rights but I think this stretch of shoreline should never have been allowed to be sold.
The only “cliffy” section: it’s hard to capture the height on camera.
The view of Cape Spear from atop Blackhead.
Coming down the south side of Blackhead, some snow still on the trail.
Heavy seas in the gulches at trail’s end!
The trailhead, with Blackhead and the rest of the ECT extending beyond it!
Folks, yesterday was the first day that it wasn’t raining or snowing for almost a week, and it was a Saturday, perfect! Packed up the snowshoes and headed out to trek out and back over the Blackhead Path section of the East Coast Trail. The weather was fantastic, the trail was easy to follow except on the Blackhead (the community) side of the hike up to Blackhead (the bluff), where it was easy to lose but easy to pick back up.
I started in the afternoon, took a few snaps of the slob ice in the bottom of Blackhead Bay, walked just past the end of the private property before which the trail begins, and veered off course. For some reason, a rocky patch of the trail didn’t look like the right way, despite that I knew I hadn’t passed certain key points, including a patch I knew would be wet. I decided I’d follow another path that was combination snowmobile and snowshoe, it headed in the right direction after all. After some adventures which had me ankle deep in a river (saved by the Scarpas!), I rejoined the trail and managed to stick to it for the most part as I made my way up to Blackhead. I have a feeling the trail will be easier to follow in a few days since we’re looking at more rain and warm weather which should melt the snow currently covering the hill. That said, for the time being, it’d help to be familiar with the trail. It’s not likely you’d get lost, but keep an eye out for those trail marking poles on your way up the hill.
The trail was well defined and easy to follow from the top of Blackhead on for the most part. I passed a couple of hikers out enjoying the fine weather, coming from the other direction. Climbing down the other side of Blackhead through the woods was incredible. A grouse paid me a visit. Breaking out of the woods, there was a little bit of a chilly breeze as I walked the last few hundred metres to the trailhead at the edge of the Cape Spear Park property, but for the most part, I was toasty warm. I had my jacket packed and my hat and mitts off for a lot of the walk…
…which led to an unfortunate incident. I lost a black claw-style Swamy mitt somewhere between the other side of Blackhead and the viewpoint near the Cape Spear trailhead. I know, it’s only a glove, but I like these mitts, and I’d love to get it back if anyone spots it.
Anyhow, here are some pics I took! I’ll post these on the Blackhead Path page as well!
Slob ice at the bottom of Blackhead Bay.
A look back at Blackhead. It’s a bit too bright to see much detail, but trust me, there’s not much of a trail here.
At the top of the hill, the sign looks to have been damaged this winter.
The trail is easier to follow from here.
The first dummy fort at the top of Blackhead.
Rounding the top of brown, windblown Blackhead, Cape Spear is striking.
The second dummy fort.
The trail markers make it easy to stick to the trail on the other side of Blackhead.
A look back at Blackhead from the south.
The snow has melted to reveal planks in a couple of spots.
The first view of the trailhead.
A couple of hikers enjoying the weather.
Some spots have opened up. Some hikers plow right through.
Close to the trailhead, some slob ice in the coves and gulches near it.
Slob ice in Paper Cove.
Ice in Paper Cove.
Slob ice in Pilot Gulch.
Crossing an open stretch, the trailhead at last!
A look at the viewpoint at Cantwell’s Cove.
Almost back, the trail was easier to follow on the return trip. Bottle Cove maybe?
The usual wet spots are pretty wet.
A look back at Blackhead and the slob ice in the bay.
The trailhead in Blackhead.