It’s no mystery that with a culture traced back as far as 9,000 years, Newfoundland and Labrador is a Canadian province that has some of the most unique history to share with travellers around the world. Being an incredibly old island inhabited by various indigenous groups as far back as 7000 BC before being in contact with the Vikings and then Europeans (specifically the Irish and French) as early as 1001, Newfoundland and Labrador continuously prove itself to be a well-regarded international trading hub and exploration hotspot. Joining the Canadian Confederation in 1949 after World War II and the Great Depression, one thing still remains clear to this day – Newfoundlanders are extremely proud of their deep-rooted, distinctive and passionate long-standing island culture.
With its everlasting east coast trails that dance along the outskirts of Newfoundland’s gorgeous oceanside, you could say I was drawn to the landscapes’ natural beauty that differs greatly than my home near the Canadian Rockies on the other side of the country. With a passion for hiking, spurred by the endless trails in the mountainside, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to tackle the East Coast Trail for a few days during my recent 10 day stay this fall in Newfoundland and Labrador’s ‘metropolitan’ city, St.John’s. In less than an hour drive from the city, travellers can hike along this nationally regarded trail that winds along towering cliffs, fjords, lighthouses, ecological reserves, wildlife and abandoned settlements.
Seeing as the East Coast Trail can take days to fully complete (which is possible for those who camp along designated areas of the trail overnight or find homes along the trail to sleep in), I was fortunate enough to hike with my local family members along two portions of the East Coast Trail that involved some exciting end rewards – the Quidi Vidi Brewery and The Newfoundland Distillery Co.
For those that enjoy a refreshing and cold craft beer in an eclectic harbour side brewery nestled amongst fishing boats and quaint historical homes, be sure to tackle the Sugarloaf Path along the East Coast Trail. This moderate/difficult 3-5 hour hike will lead you along a magical coastal walk that will undeniably leave you breathless…quite literally that is, considering that in order to earn your craft beer, you have to hike along a 8.9km trail through river crossings, a World War II observation station, a pipeline track and a multitude of stairs to get to the glorious end viewpoint of the Quidi Vidi Harbour.
I recommend you start at the Ocean Sciences Centre (where you can see seals before you start your hike!) and bring your water bottle, a light snack, and of course your wallet to buy beers for yourself and friends at the end of the hike. Seeing as this hike does not lead you back to your original starting point and ends with a gorgeous view of Quidi Vidi Harbour, you should arrange a ride from Quidi Vidi Brewery back to your car at the Ocean Sciences Centre parking lot. For more details on this hike, click here.
If you have an inkling for something a little stronger than beer, be sure to hike the Mad Rocks Trail in Bay Roberts, Newfoundland and wrap up your adventures with a delectable charcuterie platter and liquor flight tasting at The Newfoundland Distillery Co. This relatively low elevation 6km hike will take between 1-2 hours to complete and weaves you along steep cliffs, beaches, meadows, through three captivating viewpoints of Conception Bay and even historical homes and graveyards of past fishing settlements. You can learn more about this trail here.
When you’ve completed your hike back at the parking lot beside the adorable Mad Rock café (that has some well-known traditional Newfoundland dishes), hop back into your car, and jaunt over to The Newfoundland Distillery to wrap up your perfect day. Whether it’s their acclaimed Seaweed Gin, Gunpowder and Rose Rum or Rhubarb Vodka that strikes your fancy, you’ll be sure to enjoy at least one of their distinctive spirits in a trendy atmosphere with brilliant views of the coast right outside the window. Similarly to the Quidi Vidi Brewery, it’s extremely difficult to buy these local spirits outside of Newfoundland, so be sure to stock up on your favourite beer and liquor before the end of your trip!
Now that you know a bit more about Newfoundland, Canada and how to combine the great outdoors with some craft beer and local spirits, it’s time to book your trip! For low fares I recommend you check out WestJet, as there’s always a sale that you can take advantage of. Happy travels!