Please Note / Saturday December 17, 2016: This page will no longer be updated, as this route has been modified and renamed. Updates will now happen over at the Avalon X-Country Route (!) page.
Avalon Loop Trail… the ALT
This route is an effort to link both ends of the official East Coast Trail (ECT) via the Avalon Wilderness Reserve (AWR) on Newfoundland’s east coast. There is no association or group for this effort – it is simply a collection of GPS Tracks and Waypoints that suggest a possible way of achieving this to the hiker.
PLEASE NOTE: There is no signage. There is no maintenance. There is no cutting. There is no marking. This is not a conventional trail as most people would understand it. It exists only electronically in the GPS data above, with the exceptions noted below. The name “Avalon Loop Trail” has been assigned only to facilitate discussion online. As more information is collected it will be available here.
In no particular order, here are a few things to note…
ECT (East Coast Trail): Section 2
The GPS data for the Avalon Loop Trail will only cover non-ECT sections. The best data for hiking the ECT section is available from the East Coast Trail Association. In addition to the data offered above, hikers will need an ECTA Map Set. Going forward, as the ECT evolves and expands from it’s current state, the ALT in turn will get shorter – specifically the unofficial ECT Sections (#1 and 3) will be modified to reflect any ECT changes. The sole purpose of this page – and the ALT in general – is simply to suggest a route to link both ends of that more established trail.
AWR (Avalon Wilderness Reserve): Section 4
This is rough, unmarked wilderness terrain – there often is no trail. GPS, Map and Compass are suggested. Good maps for this area would be (from south to north) NRC NTS Map Numbers 1 K/14, 1 N/3 and 1 N/6. These topographic maps are at 1:50,000 (~1.25 inch to 1 mile) scale.
Hikers wanting to cross the Avalon Wilderness Reserve are required to obtain an Entry Permit from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Fortunately, this can be done via email and requests seem to be handled in a very prompt fashion. Include enough information in your initial request and you will likely have a quick resolution: Name, mailing address, telephone number, intention (ex. hiking / backpacking) and the dates which you will be in the area. There are a variety of restrictions for anyone entering the AWR – basically it gets down to the hiker behaving in a respectful way, as they should wherever they go. Be prepared to adhere to LNT Principles and check out the Rules and Regulations for wilderness reserves in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Waypoints through the AWR start in the South and roughly follow a North / NNE direction. The route often utilizes woods roads (Northeast Trail, Horse Chops Road, Frank’s Pond Road, etc.) and other unnamed ATV trails when possible, with intermittent 10 to 20 km periods of bushwhacking and route finding to join these features when no clear path is available. This route was inspired by and closely follows Aaron O’Brien’s hike of the area in Fall of 2012 – read more about that trek @ The Independent. Since this is a protected area, no exact GPS Track will be provided – only Waypoints. Hikers can use this data to assist in navigating – just to point themselves in the correct general direction – and are encouraged to find their own route from one area to the next.
Near the northern end of this section (for approximately 1.2km, Waypoints 525 to 528) the route passes through the Hawke Hills Ecological Reserve, a protected barren alpine region. While no separate permit is required to walk through this area, activities are more restricted than the AWR – neither camping or fires are permitted and the hiker is asked to stay on the existing path. Practice Leave No Trace – leave nothing, take nothing. See the full regulations and other information on this area at the Gov of NL Dept. of Environment and Conservation Hawke Hills Ecological Reserve page.