Hiking the James Callaghan Trail up and over Gros Morne Mountain in the summer is a popular activity. Likely the most popular trail in Gros Morne National Park but it's even better in the winter! There are less people there, the views are just as amazing (if not better), and the trail is easier to climb.
A few things first about Gros Morne Mountain in winter:
- Gros Morne National Park Trails are not maintained in the winter
- you will have to park your vehicle on the road
- the outhouses are buried in snow
- there's no garbages (pack out ALL your garbage please!)
- Winter adventures require hikers/snowshoers/skiers to be able to self-assess risks and you should always be prepared to turn back if conditions warrant such as:
- weather turns windy or low clouds roll in
- the terrain is icy or avalanche prone
- group members are cold/tired/hurt
- I was always under the impression that the summit was CLOSED all winter, but reviewing the parks website (March 3, 2017) it seems a snowshoe to the summit is possible! The website reads "The mountain is closed to hikers in May and June. At this time of year, soils are wet and easily eroded and animals are raising their young." Read more here.
- Go in prepared! Take everything on the Day Hike Checklist PLUS add:
- extra warm layers such as a down jacket/winter coat, warm hat and mitts, and I always bring dry socks!
- snowshoes or skis + required safety gear and repair kit
- extra, extra food (high calorie foods that won't freeze like nuts, energy bars etc.)
- foam pad (to sit on/stand on to stay warm)
I have been up the James Callaghan Trail many, many times but never in the winter. Finally I was able to coordinate a small group to meet up and snowshoe into the base of Gros Morne Mountain. The day was perfect: blue sky and light winds.
We parked on the road in front of the parking lot, stopped up and headed in. Someone had snowshoed this trail recently, so we were able to follow their tracks. With out fresh tracks to follow, the trail can be hard to see as there are no signs/blazes or other trail markers along the way - be vigilant in your whereabouts!
I really enjoyed snowshoeing to the base, the trail was easier! Everything was a slope, no stairs this time of the year and with the snowpack, we could see above the tree tops in many places. With the sun out and light winds, we climbed in our base layers enjoying the warmth. Once at the base, we found a nice rock for our picnic and layered up to enjoy lunch with a view!
Going down was also easier due to the gradual decline and no stairs or big rocks to navigate around - no knee jarring!
In total, this 8 kilometre return snowshoe hike took us about 4 hours under perfect weather conditions with an identified trail.
For nearby trails, check out the trail guidebook Hikes of Western Newfoundland and for more winter adventure info and tips subscribe to my email list at the bottom of this page!