"Work on the East Coast Trail began in 1994 with a group of about 20 dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers. For several years we had great fun rediscovering old trails that had once connected the outports (i.e., fishing villages) of the Avalon Peninsula, and to bushwack our way to create a continuous hiking trail. Eventually government funds made it possible to hire unemployed fishermen and fish plant workers, who were suffering from the effects of the moratorium on the cod fishery of 1992. With their help the association built bridges, boardwalks and signage to create a trail that satisfies highest international standards.
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"A first 220 km of the trail, leading from St. Johnís south to Cappahayden with a system of 18 paths, was officially opened in 2001, complete with a set of detailed maps that provide path descriptions, distances and ratings of difficulty. Two volumes of an anticipated set of 5 Hiking Guides are available as well. However, the East Coast Trail is a work in progress and the association is aiming for more than 400 km of coastal hiking trails, as well as 120 km of an inland wilderness trail. Efforts to improve existing simple, rough trails and to add several bridges are currently concentrated in the area north of St. Johnís.
"Meanwhile the East Coast Trail has become internationally known as one of the best long distance coastal hiking trails anywhere and attracts hikers from all over the world. They can expect to enjoy an exciting variety of coastal scenery and such cultural experiences as historic lighthouses and old outports, some of which are now abandoned. In season, whales, seabirds and icebergs may be viewed. Fall brings an abundance of berries, including blueberries and partridge berries, to be savored while you are hiking.
"In the words of Sue Rendell, President, Adventure Tourism Association of Newfoundland and Labrador:
'There is plenty to see and do in this province, and the series of hiking trails winding through the East Coast of Newfoundland and beyond is something which everyone should try their hand at, for laid-back explorations or high-gear adventures. The trails offer an exclusive invitation to experience the true beauty and serenity of this province, and to become intimately introduced to what is unique about our province, from the wonders of wildlife to the natural chronicles of history.'"
Excerpt from ď52 Great Hikes - Newfoundland & Labrador - Avalon and Bonavista PeninsulasĒ, by Mary Smyth and Fred Hollinghurst.
For more information and to order maps and guide books, please contact:
The East Coast Trail Association
P.O. Box 8034
50 Pippy Place, Second Floor
St. Johnís, NL A1B 3M7
Tel. (709) 738-4453
Fax: (709) 738-1122