I arrived at the Alexander Murray Trail nice and early to take advantage of the morning light and the whole day.
I was greeted with no parking at the trailhead, but the trail all to myself. I was able to park behind the town's maintenance building, off to the side, where I put on my snowshoes and pack. I wandered over to the Alexander Murray Trail head and checked out the log book, maps and other trail info before heading in. On the bridge there is a notice that one of the bridges along the trail had been washed out. I noted this, but decided to snowshoe the whole loop anyways because everything was still so frozen.
The eight kilometre loop takes about three hours in the summer but with the snow, I expected it to take me longer. The trail climbs gradually for about two kilometres as it makes its way through forest, bog and barrens. Breaking trail the whole way, I was pacing myself and enjoying all the animal tracks everywhere - maybe I would see a moose?! Hare, squirrel, chipmunk, moose and even fox tracks zigzagged along and across the trail. As I broke out onto Moose Barrens, the view of the hills was incredible!
I noticed quickly that the Alexander Murray Trail wasn’t very well marked, as I suspect it’s not really intended for winter use, because of all the stairs. In the summer, hikers are able to follow the foot path or beaten trail in the dirt, thus requiring less trail markers, but in the winter with snow coverage, navigating through the forest and across the barrens is challenging. There were about half a dozen times that I had to scout a route, then back track to scout the other possible options, searching for the trail corridor.
As you reach Corner Brook Gorge, the climb begins. Up and up the stairs I climbed until all of a sudden, I was up, overlooking Green Bay and the gorge. Here I took advantage of the sun and shelter from the wind to rest and have a snack at the lookout. While I was hanging out, a huge icicle let go and crashed down in the gorge, making me jump and reminding me that spring was here.
Traversing the ridgeline is nothing short of spectacular. On a clear day, you can see for miles - hill tops dusted with new snow, the bay glistening in the sunlight, and you feel like you’re on top of the world. This is it, why I love to hike and snowshoe, the views.
After summiting at Haypook Lookout, I began my descent. Coming up the stairs with snowshoes wasn’t too bad, going down was another matter! I picked my way down a couple flights, then decided to just go around the stairs where possible and this was much easier.
The descent takes you past another waterfall, Gull Brook Falls, which in a couple of weeks will be at full flow and a sight to see!
I reached the bottom in good time (already at the three hour mark) and trucked back to Corner Brook, where I was thankful trail crews had installed a new bridge. It currently requires a ninja move or some climbing to get up, but once you’re on top, you’re all set.
The last 2 kilometres were so much easier now that I was not breaking trail anymore. Tired though I was from the climb, I felt so energized by the fresh air and sunshine. What a great trail!
King's Point also kept me busy when I wasn't hiking. I visited with David at King's Point Pottery, enjoyed a visit to the Whale Pavilion, and just taking pictures of the quaint seaside town. I look forward to heading up here again in the summer to check in on the trail and experience King's Point in another season. Read about the whole weekend on newfoundlandlabrador.com
For full details about the Alexander Murray Trail, as well as others in the area, you can Purchase Hikes of Western Newfoundland Guide Book via Amazon. Buying via this link helps to keep the blog up and running - thank you for your support!