Hiking the Lighthouse Trail: Taking in the views of Cow Head

Keith &
Keith & Heather Nicol
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Keith Nicol takes in the view from the Point of the Head in Cow Head.

During the summer we like to get most of our exercise hiking and sea kayaking, but we also hit the gym on a regular basis to do some weights to keep us in shape.

Recently a fellow came up to us at Forever Young Fitness and introduced himself: “My name is Victor and I used to live in Cow Head. I recognize you from The Western Star and like reading about your outdoor adventures. So I have to ask you if you have ever hiked the Lighthouse Trail in Cow Head? I haven’t done for a while, but as I recall it is a great trail but it is tucked out the way so I am not sure how many people know about it.”

We told him that actually we had done that trail just 10 days previously when we were last up in Cow Head seeing some plays at the Gros Morne Theatre Festival.

“We love that trail since it is very picturesque and it is a perfect morning or afternoon outing,” we told him.  

 So if you find yourself in the Cow Head area of Gros Morne National Park and would like to check out a great trail, then try this Lighthouse Trail. There are magical sections through the wind sculpted forest, lovely grassy meadows, rugged wave washed limestone cliffs and coves and even a couple of lookout platforms.

And did we mention the lighthouse that the trail passes by? The small lighthouse was built in 1909 and was restored in 2002. Evidently, the name Cow Head dates back to explorer Jacques Cartier, who in 1534 named it “Tete de la Vache” due to a piece of limestone rock that had been shaped like a cow’s head at the southern tip of the peninsula.

The peninsula also has outcroppings of another rock called chert which was very important for the early aboriginal inhabitants for making arrowheads and other projectile points, so this area seems to have a very long history of settlement.

To reach the start of the Lighthouse Trail, take the road across the isthmus and take the first left turn up to a parking lot where you will see an amphitheatre. The trail starts at the side of the parking lot at 21 U 0441609 E 5530037 N and follows a broad two-kilometre loop back to the parking lot.

There are short side trails to the Steering Island lookout and Spring Beach, which we recommend doing as well. Also, there is a longer 1.5-km (return) trail to the Point of the Head, and this is also a must-do if you have the time. The scenery at the Point of the Head is superb and it is a perfect lunch spot.

If you want a map that provides information about the Lighthouse Trail, be sure to pick one up at the Dr. Henry N. Payne museum in Cow Head.

The museum also has sample arrowheads and other materials from the “Head,” as well as information about the community.


Contributors Keith and Heather Nicol live in Corner Brook and are avid explorers of Newfoundland. Keith can be reached at knicol@swgc.mun.ca

Organizations: Gros Morne Theatre

Geographic location: Cow Head, Western Star, Gros Morne National Park Jacques Cartier Spring Beach Corner Brook Newfoundland

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