Gros Morne Mountain Hike in Newfoundland

Do it on its own or finish the Long Range Traverse with this hike

A View of 10 Mile Brook Pond

A hike to the summit of Gros Morne Mountain, the second highest peak in Newfoundland after Lewis Hill, is a rewarding and challenging 16 km return outing.

From just below the summit of the 806-metre-high mountain, you can enjoy phenomenal views of Ten Mile Brook Pond, the fjord-like arms of Bonne Bay, and the Long Range Mountains, providing of course that the fog hasn’t rolled in to obscure everything.

You can do the Gros Morne Mountain hike on its own (which is what most people do), but it’s also possible to do it as an add on on the last day of the Long Range Traverse.

You will have to change your mindset by the Ferry Gulch Campsite, because instead of a hike down to the parking lot you have considerable vertical to achieve the Gros Morne Mountain summit – followed by the full descent.

Still, it’s well worth doing but you have to know you’ve just added at least another three hours of hiking to your day.

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A powerful landscape on the Gros Morne Mountain hike where humans seem puny
A powerful landscape on the Gros Morne Mountain hike where humans seem puny

Gros Morne Mountain hike summary

Distance: 17 km (10.6 miles) return 

Elevation gain: Approximately 650 m or 2,133 feet

Time needed: 6 – 9 hours 

Level of difficulty: Hard

Best time to go: Early July until mid-late September, depending on when the snow flies.

Trailhead location: It’s located 7 km south of Rocky Harbour on route 430. 

Trail closure: Every year the summit loop on Gros Morne Mountain is closed beginning on May 1 and reopening on the last Friday in June

Dogs allowed: Dogs are not permitted on this hike.

Campsite: There is a primitive campsite at Ferry Gulch.

Go prepared: It’s usually cooler and windier on the mountain so be sure to pack some warm clothes, a wind breaker, and a rain coat. Take at least 3 L of water per person.

Good to know: If you do your part and stay on the trail, you will protect a fragile environment, especially near the top as you enter a slice of Arctic tundra.

For more information: Visit the Gros Morne National Park website.

Gros Morne Mountain hike (as part of the Long Range Traverse)

John and I did the hike to the summit of Gros Morne Mountain on the last day of our Long Range Traverse. Instead of continuing down to the parking lot once we got to the junction by the Ferry Gulch Campsite (like most people do), we started climbing on a route that people use to descend Gros Morne Mountain.

Most people approach the mountain from a steep, scree filled gully that starts roughly 4 km from the parking lot.

Before you start the slog up the gully, ask yourself if you can get off the mountain before dark as you’ve got another 8 km of tough hiking ahead of you. Many people turn around at the viewing platform here.

Looking up the steep gully that takes you to the summit
Looking up the steep gully that takes you to the summit of Gros Morne Mountain

Are you up for a 500 metre climb to the summit of Gros Morne Mountain?

If you decide to keep going, then you’ve got 500 m (1,640 feet) of climbing to get to the summit at 806 metres above sea level. Once above treeline, you’re in a fragile Arctic-alpine environment. Tread lightly.

It’s not recommended that you descend the gully, mostly because you don’t want to send rocks flying onto hikers below you. Since we were the last people off the mountain, I actually wish we’d returned via the gully as it would have saved us a lot of time.

Our route up to the summit was very pretty in short order. From the Ferry Gulch intersection, it’s a combination of hiking on good trails, boardwalk and stairs.

All of it is well-marked, a welcome change after the Long Range Traverse – which offers hikers a navigational challenge with no marked trail.

Looking down to the lake beside the Ferry Gulch Campsite
Looking down to the lake beside the Ferry Gulch Campsite
Ferry Gulch Campsite
Ferry Gulch Campsite
The views within 30 minutes of leaving the Ferry Gulch Campsite
The views within 30 minutes of leaving the Ferry Gulch Campsite

You’ll find fluorescent markers above treeline, put in place to help you get safely off the mountain if the fog suddenly rolls in.

"I counted 177 stairs in total"
I counted 177 stairs in total
The view looking over to the Long Range Traverse from the Gros Morne Mountain hike
The view looking over to the Long Range Traverse
An easy section of boardwalk at the top of the stairs
An easy section of boardwalk at the top of the stairs
John and I beside the lookout over Ten Mile Brook Pond on the Gros Morne Mountain hike
John and I beside the lookout over Ten Mile Brook Pond on the Gros Morne Mountain hike
It's a rocky hike to matter what way you approach it
It’s a rocky hike to matter what way you approach it
On top of Gros Morne Mountain
On top of Gros Morne Mountain

The hike from Ferry Gulch campsite to the Gros Morne Mountain trailhead

Our hike to the summit was an out and back hike rather than the loop most people do. The return to the Ferry Gulch Campsite was quite enjoyable.

But, I was surprised at how tough going the hiking was all the way from Ferry Gulch to the viewing platform by the gully.

It’s rocky with uneven footing and took far longer than I anticipated. I figured it was a two hour hike – tops – especially as it’s only 7 km. But, it took us at least three hours.

Be warned that this part of the hike can get very hot in summer. Be sure to fill your water bottles at Ferry Gulch before starting off. Treat your water with purification tablets or take a small water filter.

Rough walking from the Ferry Gulch Campsite for many kilometres
Rough walking from the Ferry Gulch Campsite for many kilometres
Distant views of the Tablelands on the way down from Gros Morne Mountain
Distant views of the Tablelands on the way down from Gros Morne Mountain”
The path through thick vegetation called tuckamore
The path through thick vegetation called tuckamore
Back in a sea of green just minutes from the parking lot at the end of the Gros Morne Mountain hike
Back in a sea of green just minutes from the parking lot at the end of the Gros Morne Mountain hike

Go prepared on the difficult Gros Morne Mountain hike

All told, allow six to eight hours to do the full loop hike.

Go prepared with a windbreaker and rain gear for the summit and extra food and a minimum of 2 – 3  litres of water per person. Proper footwear that is well broken in is a must as well. I wouldn’t recommend this hike for kids unless they were used to doing long, hard hikes.

A pair of collapsible hiking poles will help those with bad knees. 

If you’re prone to blisters, I highly recommend taking Compeed. It speeds up their healing too.

Warning for the hike up hike up the mountain
Warning for the hike up hike up the mountain

Location map of the Gros Morne Mountain hike


Where to stay in nearby Rocky Harbour

The town of Rocky Harbour is just a 7-minute drive from the trailhead so it’s ideal as a base. 

Rated exceptional is the Wildflowers Country Inn. Some rooms come with a kitchenette.

The Fish Sheds, rated superb, is a holiday home with a patio and sea view, along with a fully equipped kitchen.

The Ocean View Hotel is rated very good, boasting ocean views and a restaurant and a bar.

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

The Gros Morne Mountain hike in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland

  1. A lot of the campsites look exposed (and amazing) – if there was a thunderstorm, was there a depression or treeline anywhere to move to?

    1. @Scaredy Cat I don’t think Newfoundland actually gets many thunderstorms. You more or less have to stay in the assigned campsites – and some have a few trees around but nothing big. Nix the depression if it was raining hard. Honestly it wouldn’t be something I’d think about.

  2. Great read, thanks! I’ll be heading to Gros Morne in early September for my first time and I am very torn over where to set up camp. The reservable campgrounds themselves don’t appeal to me but I’m a little fearful that all the primitive sites will be occupied when we arrive! How far of a hike from the ferry dock are the ferry gulch campsites, do you recall? Any other suggestions on primitive sites?

    1. @Jennifer Ferry Gulch was actually quite a nice campsite. From there to the summit it would probably take a couple of hours. You could camp there one night – and then do and up and down, perhaps take down your tent and continue walking out OR stay a 2nd night. September might not be as busy.

  3. Thanks for the excellent write up. We’re planning a family trip to Gros Morne in mid-July. My husband and I are fairly experienced hikers and he’s familiar with backcountry navigation. We went to Katahdin last year and the kids did fine with a fairly steep 1400′ day hike. We’re planning on taking them for a overnight trip to Gros Morne mountain. Our plan would be to backpack to Ferry Gulch and climb Gros Morne the next day taking our time. Is there a lower age restriction for backpacking at Gros Morne? Also, how hard is it to reserve campsites at Ferry Gulch?

    1. @Andrea I don’t believe there is an age restriction and from Ferry Gulch up and down it should be very doable – especially so if you spend two nights at Ferry Gulch. I’d book campsites through Gros Morne National Park asap since this summer they are expecting record numbers in all parks with the free admittance.

      1. Thanks for the link. Looks like the backcountry campgrounds are first come, first serve.

        Would the first day of the traverse and back – just going to the top of the gorge, camping for two nights and returning, be something that can be done with children? You’d mentioned that the elevation gain was about 2000 feet. Is it feasible to come back down the gorge?

      2. @Andrea That’s one heck of a up and down – feasible if your kids are in great shape. The parks people had made an exception when we did the traverse and we were able to camp about 40 minutes above the gorge where we wanted. It was completely awesome. But I’m not sure if they’d still allow that or if you’d have to continue to the first real campsite which was so-so.
        They may still want you to take the navigation test.And you’d have to arrange with the shuttle to pick you up at the right time.

  4. Once you hike from the parking lot up the 4km gully, how far/long until you reach the ferry gulch campsite? We are planning a trip in June, and unfortunately don’t know if we will have time to make it all the way to summit. Is there a safer stopping point to reach and get back to the parking lot in 6 hours?

    1. @Rob You aren’t allowed to climb Gros Morne Mountain until the beginning of July. I’m assuming you’re talking about going up Gros Morne Mountain on the steep route and then doing a loop to return past the campsite in one day. It’s easily 6 hours – especially with photo stops, maybe even 7-8 depending on your walking speed. And no there aren’t other great places to camp.

  5. This is an inspiring and well done description of the Long Traverse. I am now adding Newfoundland to my long list of trips that I hope to do some day. Nice photographs! If I do attempt the Long Traverse, I wonder if it would be wise to hire a local guide.

  6. Hi there!

    I will be visiting Newfoundland at the end of August with my boyfriend and would love to hike to the summit! Are there any tips and tricks to this trail – I’ve seen other posts online saying you must take a guided tour unless you have a back country pass. And that you have to take a boat to the trail (or else the parking lot is over 20km away)??

    I’d appreciate any insight! I like your post! 🙂


    1. @Christine The hike to the summit of Gros Morne Mountain DOES NOT require a boat ride. The one that does is at the end of Western Brook Pond – and you can take a guided hike to get the classic view down the fjord. Gros Morne Mountain is usually done as a loop hike – up some steep stuff at the beginning, a wander along the top angling down to get great views of a fjord, down steep stairs and then a long section that partially involves retracing your steps. You definitely want to bring a lot of water on this hike.

  7. Great experience! I’m going to Gros Morne in two-week time with my husband for only 3 complete days. We booked the daily hike (8 hours) to Western Brook Pond Gorge with local guide Clem, and also a 3-hour kayak tour in Bonne Bay. Can you suggest some other activity for the remaining day? It could be a hike, but it should be a marked trail, otherwise my husband gets panicky 🙂
    I’d love to do this hike to Gros Morne Summit but I think it will be too strenuous 3 day vacation.
    I’d appreciate your input.

    1. @Valery You will have an amazing time with Clem. Consider the Green Gardens hike (it would be my first choice) & there’s a short version (9 kms return) and a longer version. I haven’t done it but by all reports it will be excellent. There was some damage but that was years ago now. Check in with the park but I think the short version might be just the thing.

  8. Don’t hear much about Newfoundland, it’s somewhat of an unsung part of Canada, I think. Most of what I know has to do with our Viking (temporary) emigrants. Had a look at a map, and it seems Gros Morne isn’t too terribly far from L’Anse aux Meadows. Interesting…

  9. Beautiful photos, Leigh! We only had a week in Newfoundland so stuck to the St. John’s and Terra Nova areas of the province but I hope to get back again to spend some time in Gros Morne – it looks incredible!

  10. What a beautiful camping spot Ferry Gulch would be. It would be a surreal experience in the beautifully green landscape. Camping to me usually means a dry country site, except in Mission Beach where it usually rains torrentially. Love the photo of you and John at the lookout,

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