On our most recent trip to Southern Labrador, the focus was on seeing the province’s newest World Heritage site at Red Bay. But we also got a chance to explore hiking trails that are located near some of the communities.
A good place to stop to get an overview of the hiking options in the region is the Gateway to Labrador Visitor’s Centre in L’Anse au Clair. The visitor’s centre has a map of the trails and we spent a few minutes jotting down some notes on where they started so that we could find the trailheads. We have noted the GPS coordinates of these trailheads to make it easier for anyone else wanting to do these hikes.
We mentioned the Saddle Island trail in Red Bay, which focuses on the historic Basques Whaling operations in our Sept. 17 column. But there are some other trails worth checking out in the Red Bay area. The one-kilometre Boney Shore Trail is another notable trail since it passes by 450-year-old whale bones dating from the times when the Basques hunted Bowhead whales along this shore. You can see the whale bones along the trail and get views of the community of Red Bay as well as Saddle Island.
Also in the same area is the Tracey Hill trail which is more strenuous since it climbs steadily to the top of Tracey Hill. There are close to 700 steps leading to the top but the views are well worth it. The trailhead for both of these trails is 51 44.079 N, 56 26.461 W.
The next day we traveled south to see the Point Amour Lighthouse, which is Canada’s second-highest lighthouse. In fact, it is just one metre short of Canada’s tallest lighthouse in Quebec. If you want a vertical hike, we recommend climbing the 132 steps to the top where you get a panoramic view of the entire coastline.
Also inside the lighthouse building are guides to show you history of the lighthouse. Valerie O’Brien told us that the lighthouse lens is original and that it came all the way from Paris, France 155 years ago. She also pointed out the unusual pattern in the shoreline rock which she said was a fossil reef that was 530 million years old.
“We have also been seeing lots of gannets this year which is unusual” she added.
She mentioned that we should hike the Raleigh Trail which starts nearby. The trailhead is 51 30.955’ N, 56 49.793 W and this one kilometre (one-way) coastal trail has several interpretative panels that chronicles the wreck of the HMS Raleigh in 1922. You can see the remains of the ship along the shore and you should allow 30 minutes or so to complete this short trail.
While in this area be sure to see the plaque marking the oldest known burial mound in North America which is along the road heading to the Point Amour Lighthouse. It appears that a young Maritime Archaic Indian boy was ceremonially buried at this site roughly 7,500 years ago.
Also nearby is the Labrador Straits Museum.
This museum was started in 1979 and features a craft shop as well as artifacts which record various aspects of the way of life along this coast.
There are many more trails to explore and we hope to walk some of those on our next visit.