There are a handful of “must-do” things I do every time I visit friends in Trinity and on the Bonavista Peninsula: drink pints at the Port Rexton Brewery, enjoy a good meal somewhere (often the Artisan Inn) and go on an afternoon hike.
Typically the trails of choice are either the famous Skerwink Trail or the quieter Fox Island Trail — but on my latest visit, my friend Leila and I wanted to try somewhere different. Our hosts Marieke and Jon recommended the Murphy’s Cove Lodge’s Pond Trail in Port Union, and so on a crisp, sunny autumn’s day, we took off to find it.
(Yes, that trail name is a mouthful. As are all names in Newfoundland.)
I love living in St. John’s, but it’s easy for the weather to bring you down. It constantly amazes me how often I can leave the city and find good weather just an hour away. If you’re visiting in the fall, you owe it to yourself to get off the Avalon in search of sunnier skies (and sometimes less wind).
The bare basics of the Murphy’s Cove to Lodge’s Pond Trail
- It’s a 7.7 kilometre (about 5 miles) coastal loop
- The trail is pretty easy, without much incline, but I do suggest hiking shoes with ankle support as some of the trail is rocky and uneven
- The trail can also get VERY muddy — wear those waterproof boots if it has been raining recently, or if it’s spring/fall!
- The entrance is next St. Catherine’s Haven in Port Union
Now, Leila and I did get lost looking for the trailhead. We couldn’t really see any signage anywhere, and when we asked some locals about it, they were as confused as we were. Ha. (It’s a popular trail though, so maybe we just asked the wrong people. Or it could be one of those things where locals just refer to it as “the trail,” which seems to be the case in a lot of small towns.)
We even stopped at a senior citizens’ home so Leila could refill her water bottle and ask for directions, and then we got sidetracked for 20 minutes as the residents recognized Leila as “that reporter from NTV.” It was lovely.
The well-maintained trail takes you through the abandoned community of Murphy’s Cove, although we didn’t see many remains of the community. Most of the route follows along the coastline, giving way to steep headlands dropping sharp into the sea. The waves were vicious that day — every crash sounded like thunder, and we sat a fair ways back from the water just to take it all in.
From here in the summer months, you’re likely to spot whales and seabirds. We made do with the wide-open ocean views. Sections of the path descend deep into the forest before rising back out again, along sturdy wooden staircases and then through open plains a little further back from the headlands. As we approached the halfway point, we could see Green Island and its lighthouse off in the distance.
From my vantage point, it looked like the island was attached to the mainland (I hadn’t realized it was called Green Island, I swear). When we rounded a headland and discovered we couldn’t actually walk up to the lighthouse, I was a little disappointed. Briefly.
As it turns out, the Green Island Lighthouse (built in 1857) is one of the few manned lighthouses left in Newfoundland. Leila and I paused at a lookout to take photos, and eventually, we could see a man dressed all in black walking from the lighthouse down to the shoreline. It took him about five minutes to reach the edge, and as we stared at each other from across the water, we both started waving our arms in the happiest, giddiest salute.
It. Made. My. Day.
Honestly, that gloriously sunny day waving at an unknown lighthouse keeper on his little island was just…something special. A little bit of past preserved. I have so many questions about him. How long does he stay there? What does he do for fun? How do you become a lighthouse keeper? Is it lonely? Does he have WiFi?
It took us a few hours to complete the hike, but we took our time taking it all in. We didn’t see a single other person on the trail, except for when we neared the end and came across some locals toting their empty buckets along for some berry picking.
This brings me to my next tip: BRING AN EMPTY CONTAINER FOR BLUEBERRIES!! (Dependent on the season, of course, but this was early October and the berries were in full bloom. Usually, it’s late summer.) We had quite a feast there amongst the barrens and cliffs and trees and lonely deserted communities, shoving handfuls of blueberries into our mouths (moose pee be damned).
If you want a quieter hike away from busy Skerwink, I highly recommend the Murphy’s Cove to Lodge’s Pond trail.