The 10.7k Trail from Cape Spear, the most eastern point in North America, to Maddox Cove, is a great was to see the beauty in the Newfoundland coastline. It is part of the East Coast Trail system, which spans over 300kms on the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland.
I was on a brief little get-a-way to St. John’s with my eldest daughter, and we decided a hike would give us an up close view of the rugged coastline, the next best thing to a boat. With such a short trip, Cape Spear was ideal, only a short drive from our downtown hotel. We parked our rental car in the parking area in Maddox Cove and called a taxi to drive us to Cape Spear. Our driver, Joe, was eager to give us some tips. Frankly, he kind of had us worried we had bitten off more than we wanted. The description from various websites had indicated it would take 3-6 hours, and we were planning on eliminating the trail out to North Head, in hopes of finishing closer to 3 hours. Joe had only completed the trail in both directions, and indicated it was 10 hours. But the longer distance would require more frequent breaks , and pace would no doubt be slower on the return trip. There was no turning back now!
After one last bathroom break at the Cape Spear lighthouse, we were off. The climb up to the lighthouse was steep, but not difficult with the stairs. Once up on the ridge, the views were gorgeous, better than expected. The path included boardwalks and was quite flat for the first bit. Nearing Empty Basket, a deep forge close to the North Head trail, there were more hills, and then the terrain started to become quite rocky.
We were surprised we were alone, and not seeing many other hikers. But the trail was well trodden, with markers where necessary. At the Herring Cove sign, we met a group of six hikers. We only had 2.1kms remaining, but it was “hard going” according to the group. This was the slowest part of the trail by far. Climbing up and down steep embankments, we were thankful for some tree coverage. Before we finished, we would meet 3 other groups that started their hike in Maddox Cove.
The last 2.1kms was mostly through a wooded area, with a glimpse to the sea every so often. The climbs were up and down and quite steep. My knees were feeling it! We were happy to see the trail end, just a little over three hours after our start.
After our hike, we took the short drive down the road into Petty Harbour. Great Big Sea was a staple on our road trips when the girls were young, so this was on our must-do list. We were happy to find live music and a great meal at Chafe’s Landing.