Sugarloaf Path Hike on the East Coast Trail

Logy Bay to Quidi Vidi Village

A great place for lunch on the Sugarloaf Path

You’re in for a treat should you be lucky enough to do the Sugarloaf Path hike – an 8.9 km section of the East Coast Trail near St. John’s Newfoundland.

The Sugarloaf Path section starts at the Ocean Sciences Center in Logy Bay – just a 10 to 15 minute drive from downtown St. John’s so it’s easily accessible by taxi as a one way day trip from the city.

The East Coast Trail, if you’ve never heard of it, runs for 336 kilometres along the eastern coast of Newfoundland from Cape St. Francis in the north to Cappahayden in the south.

Some people hike the whole trail over 10-14 days but many people – especially local people aim to hike the whole trail over the course of a summer or even years by hiking it section by section.

I managed to do a couple of sections of the East Coast Trail over a few days while based in St. John’s. The Sugarloaf Path section is considered to be one of the highlights of the entire trail – and with birds, icebergs and views, it certainly was for us.

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Rugged cliffs and icebergs keep the hiking interesting
Rugged cliffs and icebergs keep the hiking interesting

Sugarloaf Path hike summary

Start/end: You can do the hike from either end so a start/finish in either Logy Bay or Quidi Vidi Village. You can walk back to St. John’s from Quidi Vidi Village. 

Distance: 8.8 km or 5.5 miles one way

Difficulty: Moderate to difficult 

Campground: No

Time needed: 3 -5 hours

Parking at Logy Bay: Parking for the Logy Bay trailhead is found at the East Coast Trail’s parking lot on the left-hand side of Marine Lab Road. Don’t park in the Marine Lab facility.

Parking at Quidi Vidi Village: Turn east onto the road immediately north of the bridge over Quidi Vidi River and park in the designated area. Simply follow the signs for 170 m to the trailhead. 

Dogs allowed: Yes, but on a leash.

Highlights: Great views from the top of Sugarloaf Head at the north end, icebergs in season (June), rock formation at the Skerries, lots of sea bird life, and a beautiful descent from Bawdens Highlands into quaint Quidi Vidi Village at the south end of the trail.

Signage: Excellent

Costs: There are no fees associated with hiking the Sugarloaf Path  – or any section of the East Coast Trail.

Weather: Expect all types of weather – as this is Newfoundland. It can be windy and rainy, but also sunny and hot. Pack extra clothing and always carry rain gear.

Don’t forget: Tell someone where you are going, practice Leave No Trace principles and pack the 10 hiking essentials.

The start of the Sugarloaf Path
The start of the Sugarloaf Path of the ECT

Sugarloaf Path hike

This section of the trail is a standout for coastal scenery from start to finish, and even more so when I was there since there were a couple of icebergs floating just outside of St. John’s Harbour.

The Sugarloaf Bay hike follows the coastline for most of its length. Much of the hiking is lumpy and there are two major elevation changes of 150 metres. 

The trail is rated as difficult by the East Coast Trail Association but I would call it a moderate hike based on what I normally do. They suggest allowing 3 – 5 hours to complete the hike which when reading the description seemed excessive.

But it’s not.

The path has its fair share of ups and downs so paying attention to your footing is important. And if you have any interest in photography or flora then there are plenty of reasons to stop – and just stare out to sea.

Coastal views start immediately on the East Coast Trail
Coastal views start immediately
Robin Hood Bay
Robin Hood Bay
Plenty of reminders along the way of where you are
Plenty of reminders along the trail of where you are
Looking down on some squawky gulls
Looking down on some squawky gulls
Looking down the coast in the direction of St. John's
Looking down the coast in the direction of St. John’s
The bridge over the John Howards River
The bridge over the John Howards River
What a view for a lunch spot from the Sugarloaf Path
What a view for a lunch spot
Big cleft in the rocks - and a great place for listening to the pebbles getting pounded
Big cleft in the rocks – and a great place for listening to the pebbles getting pounded
Stairs to Bawdens Highland
Stairs to Bawdens Highland
This fantastic view is the reward for all the stair climbing
This fantastic view is the reward for all the stair climbing

Quidi Vidi Village

We were in Quidi Vidi Village approximately four hours after starting with a nice long break for lunch.

The trail is very well marked and the only negative is the fact that you must pass close to the Robin Hood Bay Sanitary Landfill – the city dump. There is no smell but there is a bit of wind blown garbage which volunteers try to clean up regularly.

Heading down towards Quidi Vidi Village
Heading down towards Quidi Vidi Village
Looking down on Quidi Vidi Village from the Sugarloaf Path
Looking down on Quidi Vidi Village from the Sugarloaf Path
Quidi Vidi Village from ground level - with a beer brewing company just down on the right bank
Quidi Vidi Village from ground level – with a beer brewing company just down on the right bank

The hike from Quidi Vidi Village to St. John’s

There are several options to return to St. John’s. Hitchhike, take Metro bus 15 that operates about every 30 minutes, seven days a week or walk back.

We chose to walk back and I’m so glad we did. It took about an hour and added about 4 km to the day. Simply walk up Stone Road, accessed from the road to the Quidi Vidi Brewing Company (it won’t take you long to figure that out). Look for the sign saying Cuckold Cove Trail and follow it up.

In about 20 minutes you’ll arrive at the top of Signal Hill. But before arriving, you’ll pass by a massive bald eagle’s nest. When we were there two babies could be seen that were about six weeks old.

There’s a photographer – Wayne Norman – who has been documenting their lives since hatching. Check him out on Flickr. After admiring the views from the top of Signal Hill we wandered down the road and walked right to our B&B.

It was a perfect day.

The view from Signal Hill with an iceberg floating in the distance
The view from Signal Hill with an iceberg floating in the distance
2St. John's is a mass of colour
St. John’s is a mass of colour
You can walk down from Signal Hill and practically touch the iceberg
You can walk down from Signal Hill and practically touch the iceberg

What to carry on the Sugarloaf Path hike

I like something comfortable to sit on at lunch time. It can be your coat on a warm spring day but in summer I swear by my almost weightlessseat cushion.

I like usinghiking polesespecially on steep sections of trail. Invest in a good pair that are collapsible, and lightweight.

If you’re prone to blisters, be sure to packCompeed. It helps heal them in record time.

No matter how the day starts I always carry rain gear. And I find aball caporbrim hat with a chin strapinvaluable in the rain or on a hot, in your face sunny day.

I alwayspack a buff– a multi-purpose piece of cloth that has lots of practical uses. It will keep the hair out of your face, warm your neck, cool your neck if you dip in cold water as examples.

Where to stay in St. John’s

You can expect wonderful hospitality on a stay in Newfoundland. In St. John’s choose from chain and boutique hotels along with smaller B&B’s and guest houses.

Some suggestions includeBalmoral House Bed & Breakfast(I’ve stayed here and loved the breakfast and the owner was very helpful), theCabot Boutique HotelandGower Manor Historic Bed & Breakfast

Location map of the Sugarloaf Path hike in Newfoundland

                                                 

Further reading on things to do in Newfoundland

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A hike on the Sugarloaf Path - part of the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland
A hike on the Sugarloaf Path – part of the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland

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