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Gros Morne National Park of Canada

Gros Morne Mountain (James Callaghan) Trail

Gros Morne Mountain
Gros Morne Mountain
© Parks Canada

Gros Morne is the second highest peak on the island of Newfoundland, exceeded only by Lewis Hill. Often capped with clouds, or clothed in fog or snow, the mountain's mystery is reflected in its name: Gros Morne... big lone mountain. In September 1976 this trail was named for former British Prime Minister James Callaghan in recognition of his conservation efforts.

Hiker on top of Gros Morne Mountain
View of Ten Mile Pond from Gros Morne Mountain
© Parks Canada
This 806 m high flat-topped mountain is a slice of Arctic tundra far south of its usual range. The habitat here used to be the quiet domain of rock ptarmigan , Arctic hare , and woodland caribou but now a trail leads to the top of this landmark. Around the summit there are views of a spectacular glacial-carved landscape: the deep fjord arms of Bonne Bay and the U-shaped trough of Ten Mile Pond.

Your actions can easily affect the fragile and ancient community atop this mountain. Please take care to preserve this beautiful mountain so that those who follow can enjoy it too.

Before You Head Out

  • It is very important to be well prepared before undertaking this hike. This is not an easy hike!!
  • The parking lot to the trail is located 7 km east of Rocky Harbour. The complete trail is 16km long, a seven to eight hour hike at a leisurely pace. To fully enjoy the wildlife and spectacular scenery along this trail, be sure to allow yourself enough time .
  • Check weather and trail conditions . Current information is available at the Discovery Centre and the Visitor Centre.
  • Climbing Gros Morne Mountain is not permitted until the beginning of July in order to protect wildlife during critical weeks of growth and reproduction. You may still hike the 4km to the base of the mountain. However we ask you to appreciate the sensitive nature of this environment and not climb to the top before the month of July.
  • No dogs!! Dogs are not permitted on Gros Morne Mountain because of the disturbance and stress they cause for caribou, Arctic hare and rock ptarmigan. As well, sharp rocks on the mountain can cut dog's paws.
  • Carry out all of your garbage. Buried trash is still trash.
  • Leave everything as you find it. Do not pick plants or collect rocks, fossils, or anything else (other than litter!) This will ensure that others can also enjoy the features of this trail.
  • Do not build fire pits, shelters, or rock cairns.

We recommend:

Hiker's climbing rocky scree on Gros Morne Mountain.
Climbing Gros Morne
© Parks Canada / Lynch, W. / 1992
  • Sturdy boots for steep sections of loose rock and uneven trail.
  • Warm clothing and a windbreaker or warm coat (waterproof gear recommended) to counter the wind and unpredictable weather.
  • At least 1 litre of water per person and snacks, since none are available on the mountain.
  • Map and compass for use in foul weather. (Maps can be purchased at the Visitor Centre and the Discovery Centre.)

Brief Description of the Route

Map of Gros Morne Mountain Trail
Map of Gros Morne Mountain Trail
© Parks Canada

  • The first 4 km of the trail takes you to a cluster of small ponds at the base of the mountain, at an elevation of 320 m. The ascent to this point is gradual, and offers a view of Bonne Bay to the south. If time or tiredness do not permit the full hike, this can still be a worthwhile half-day outing - simply return by the same route.

  • Next the trail follows a steep boulder gully to the summit of the mountain, passing through a series of zones, each of which has its characteristic plants and animals. Hikers moving through these habitats are exposed to the same conditions as the creatures that live there. These are indeed harsh places to live, so be prepared for rapid temperature changes, lack of water, high wind, and blistering sun . This is the most difficult part of the hike, and is not recommended for small children . The climb will take at least one hour as the trail gains almost 500 m in elevation.

Rock Ptarmigan
Rock Ptarmigan
© Parks Canada / Sheldon Stone / GMNP Slide # B5-169

Gros Morne's mountain top is flat and its stunted vegetation hugs the ground. Stone cairns mark the trail across the mountaintop to the viewpoint overlooking Ten Mile Pond. Life is hard enough for the plants and animals as it is--do not increase their problems with litter, trampling, or by re-arranging the rocks that they live on and beneath.

  • The trail descends the north-east flank, winding back 6 km through Ferry Gulch, and connecting with the first section of the trail.

Please stay on the trail at all times . The vegetation is old and fragile, and the cliffs are steep. It is best to hike this trail in the clockwise direction described because the gully can be dangerous to descend and there is a risk of dislodging boulders onto climbers below.

Primitive Camping

For the overnight hiker there is a primitive campsite located in Ferry Gulch. This site can accommodate 3 tents and is equipped with tent pads, pit toilet, bear pole, and picnic tables. Campfires are not permitted at this site. Primitive campsites are reserved on a first come, first serve basis. A permit must be purchased in advance for all primitive campsites within Gros Morne National Park to ensure that sites are not overbooked or overused. Permits can be purchased at park facilities.

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