Upper and Lower Trout River Pond is located at the southern end of Gros Morne National Park. It is one of several “in land” fjords the park has become so well known for.
Usually fjords are defined as glacially carved valleys that are now flooded with sea water, but in Gros Morne National Park many of these former fjords are now freshwater lakes or ponds. This is because the heavy weight of glaciers that covered Canada during the last ice age pushed down on the earth’s crust depressing it. Then the ice melts with warming temperatures and the land rebounds as this weight is removed.
In the case of Upper and Lower Trout River Pond, this rebound has meant the pond water surface is now above sea level, making it an “inland” or freshwater fjord. Ten Mile Pond, Baker’s Brook Pond and Western Brook Pond are all other examples of former fjords that are now land locked. But of all of these examples, Upper and Lower Trout River Pond is the most accessible since you can drive to it and there is a day-use area with picnic tables and a boat launch. These ponds are connected by narrow, navigable passage and hence the names Upper Trout River Pond and Lower Trout River Pond.
In the past we have canoed its length, camping along the shore for two nights along the way. The Lower Pond is about five kilometres long and the Upper Pond about twice that length.
More recently we have used sea kayaks to explore the ponds. There is a boat launch at the park’s day-use area, so in fact you could put in many kinds of boats from this location. Be aware that if you are paddling a canoe or sea kayak that winds often come up in the afternoon so that your return trip might be longer than you have planned since instead of a tail wind you now have to contend with a head wind that can whip up the waves in a hurry. For those people that would rather hike you can also walk along the edge of the ponds from a hiking trail that leaves from the day-use area.
The latest way to see the ponds is with a new zodiac style boat tour operated by Ocean Quest.
“This southern part of Gros Morne National Park is undiscovered by many people and it is too bad since it is a spectacular area,” Ryan Young told us on a recent Ocean Quest trip. We had to agree — Trout River Pond is amazing since it is surrounded by steep cliffs 550-600 metres high and it is 15 km long. At times Ryan would stop the engine and unroll excellent props to describe the action of tectonic plates and the structure of the earth to help us understand how the unusual landscape of Trout River Pond came into being.
“This area was caused by the collision of tectonic plates millions of years ago. Subsequent glaciations stripped away rock and carved out this “fjord” and we ended up with one of the best exposures of the earth’s mantle found anywhere in the world.
“As you can see, plants haven’t adapted very well to the peridotite rock of the earth’s mantle and that is why this area looks more like Arizona than Newfoundland,” Ryan said.
Their reddish brown colour seems to change minute by minute as the afternoon light streaks between the clouds.
If you like to paddle, Ocean Quest also leads kayak tours.
Contributors Keith and Heather Nicol live in Corner Brook and are avid explorers of Newfoundland. Keith can be reached at email@example.com