Saturday, May 20, 2023
Barachois Pond Provincial Park is one of the largest provincial parks in Newfoundland. It boasts a beautiful campground, beautiful lakes, and a most beautiful trail to the top of Erin Mountain, which lies within the park. The trail was recommended by most of our research resources, so we decided to give it a try today. Advertised variously as 6 km, 7 km and 8 km, we found it to be about 6 km, or a little over 4 miles, although we could have lengthened our trek if we had hiked on to a second viewpoint at the top.
The trail begins at the tip of a peninsula in Barachois Pond on the far end of the campground, and crosses a bridge with the most character of almost any hiking bridge we've crossed:
The guides say that the trail starts level over a series of well-maintained boardwalks, and this is true. But there are many, many, MANY more boardwalks (and stairs, which, by the way, the guidebook never mentioned) than we imagined. We won't bore you with portraits of all the boardwalks and stairs we became friends with on our hike, but what we have here should give you the idea:
We weren't the only ones using the stairs and boardwalks. We caught a photo of this red-tailed squirrel; we missed a photo of a brown speckled toad who had his own hidey-hole under one stair of a stairway we were descending on the way back out.
After about 2 km, we found the side trail to the first viewpoint. It was graced with a huge bench, as if the entire baseball team invited its family to watch the game. Kathy stayed an inning or so. The view was a little impaired by trees that had grown up since the bench was installed.
More stairs -- these with Kathy climbing --
-- and these with Dave having climbed:
We were beginning to think that the stairs were the highlight of the trail, when we turned up an open rockface and climbed through the krumholtz, up to a rocky open site with signs pointing the way to a viewpoint one direction, and a toilet the other direction. Since it seemed the toilet was down a trail to a nearby unnamed lake, we decided to head first to the viewpoint, and then enjoy the toilet and lake for lunch.
We headed up to the anticipated viewpoint and, after dipping down into, and up out of, a col, we reached a height of land which was not the viewpoint. But it had a great look backward toward the open area where we had started our branch trail out to the viewpoint:
This spot boasted someone's inuksuk. Kathy immediately jumped into the fray and added a stone to the cute little communal inuksuk:
It wasn't long before we reached the viewpoint, which had a grand look out, over the campground and Barachoise Pond, toward the open sea waters to the west:
Omigosh it was windy! We recorded a video from that spot which boasts great wind noise, but, due to limited internet, you'll have to imagine the experience.
We returned down from the viewpoint and headed over to the lake, where we ate lunch (oh, yes...there, in the background, at lunch, is the vaunted toilet. The local moose, however, weren't shy about using the trails around us as their comfort station. We could distinguish the newer, wetter, ahem, moose droppings, from the drier pellets that clearly hung around the trail from last year.
The lake offered rewarding views, although we would have preferred having a trail around the lake to see more of its charms.
Having lunched, we reluctantly started on our return journey. Other than encountering a toad that crawled into its hidey-hole before we could react (and, hence, frustrated our effort to photograph him/her), we didn't experience any remarkable experiences. We did, however, get lots of views of downhill stairs:
For its mileage (not long), this trail did give us great rewards. It reminded us of some of our favorite scenic mountain hikes. We returned to the trailhead and our Jeep just before the forecast sprinkles blew in. All that was left was to drive the half hour back to our campground and turn up the heat, put on the warm socks and start this blog entry. Oh, yes, and pour a mulled wine. Skol!