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Hiking The Sugarloaf Path On The East Coast Trail

Hiking the Sugarloaf Path on the East Coast Trail

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

The Sugarloaf Path section of the East Coast Trail hike 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 265 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 trail over a few days while based in St. John’s.

The start of the Sugarloaf Section of the East Coast Trail
The start of the Sugarloaf Section of the East Coast Trail

The Sugarloaf section is a premiere section on the East Coast Trail 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 trail is rated as difficult by the East Coast Trail Association because of more than 150 metres of elevation gain. 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
Rugged cliffs and icebergs keep the hiking interesting along this section of the East Coast Trail
Rugged cliffs and icebergs keep the hiking interesting
Robin Hood Bay
Robin Hood Bay
Plenty of reminders along the East Coast Trail 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 on the East Coast Trail
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
Heading down towards Quidi Vidi Village
Heading down towards Quidi Vidi Village
Quidi Vidi Village
Quidi Vidi Village
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

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

Returning to St. John’s from Quidi Vidi Village

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 four kilometres 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

Further reading on Newfoundland

For more information on all the sections of the East Coast Trail visit their website.

Hiking the Sugarloaf Path on the East Coast Trail, Newfoundland

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 22 Comments
  1. Gorgeous photos, Leigh! I need to return to St.John’s to spend more time – we hit the main attractions in a couple of days but didn’t have time for any experiences such as this. I definitely want to go back during iceberg season!

  2. Wow, Leigh! This is a beautiful place! Makes me recall the icebergs off the tip of Newfoundland we saw on our parting morning! Fantastic!

  3. That would be my choice is to do the trail in increments. Like Day #1 – Trailhead sign – ok, back to the hotel to rest! I’m soooo kidding, Leigh. Wow, it looks absolutely beautiful as does St John’s itself. My eyes lit up and I literally said outloud, “Look Phoenix, she took some pictures of icebergs!” He was more impressed after I explained to him what an iceberg is. That’s cool that you guys walked back…I might consider doing that myself if the weather was nice 🙂

    1. @Mike Even for non-hikers I don’t know how you couldn’t be blown away by the beauty of this trail. It was one section that was suggested to me and I’m so thankful it was. And seeing icebergs is always a thrill.

  4. Lovely scenery, Leigh, and those village shots are so nice. Looks really picturesque. Would love to go there one day.

  5. I’ve been enjoying your Facebook photos of the icebergs and kayaking, so I just had to read this post. Looks like a beautiful hike. It’s rather thoughtful of someone to build those stairs. Some of my friends moved from Penang to St. John’s last year, so it’s also nice to see through you what their new home is like. Cold compared to tropical Malaysia!

  6. Astonishing to see icebergs floating that close to the coastline. I have always wanted to see one. One day I must take a trip that includes the opportunity to see icebergs.

  7. Hi Hike Bike Travel, do you know where we can buy the maps for the East-Coast Trail? We are leaving Saturday and we are too late to order it. Can we buy those maps in St-John?
    Best regards

  8. Thank you for your awesome post. We did the Sugarloaf trail in October and it was fabulous!! Hiked 3 days on the ECT and all of it was amazing – love your blog!!

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