You’re never more than five kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean in Newfoundland’s Terra Nova National Park, so it’s no wonder that it’s billed as the “place where the land and sea compete for your attention.” Landlubbers and water lovers alike will indeed find plenty to do in the 400-square-kilometre patch of rugged greenery and coastline that is the nation’s easternmost national park, located about a two-hour drive northwest of St. John’s.
TWIN RIVERS GOLF COURSE
The 18th hole at Twin Rivers is home to what canadiangolftraveller.com calls one of “the most spectacular finishing holes in Canadian golf.” It’s draw? “The 175-yard par three drops 18 feet from tee to green and plays through the mist rising above a 20-foot-tall horseshoe-shaped waterfall to a small green nestled in the forest,” notes the website.
At 225 metres, Blue Hill is the highest spot in the park, and the forest in the area is recoverying from a 1986 fire — a unique site itself. Take the Blue Hill West Trail, which is lined with the largest birch trees in the park, and keep your eye’s peeled for the threatened Newfoundland marten — a subspecies unique to the island, which has been spotted in this area.
While there are rough campsites on the Outport Trail and Dunphy’s Pond Trail, there are 343 modern sites (100 with electricity) at Newman Sound, while Malady Head has unserviced sites with washrooms, kitchen shelters, playground and firepits.
The five-kilometre Malady Head Trail ends at a lookout platform with stunning views of Southwest Arm and the Eastport Peninsula.
A sand beach is a rarity in Newfoundland, and Sandy Pond (as its name suggests) won’t disappoint those looking to dig their toes in. The spot attracts swimmers, too, as its relatively shallow depth means it’s warmer than most lakes in the province. Rent a canoe to fully explore the lake, or walk the 3.2-kilometre trail around it, watching for beavers, ducks and the insect-eating pitcher plant, Newfoundland and Labrador’s official flower.
Named for the red dye that the Beothuk (the extinct indigenous people of Newfoundland) coloured themselves with for ceremonies, the 215-metre Ochre Hill is one of Terra Nova’s highest points. From its top, you’ll get a panorama of the park’s distinctive Newfoundland landscape — boreal woodlands, ponds, marshes, bogs, granite outcrops and the Atlantic Ocean — but even better views can be had by climbing the hill’s 15-metre fire tower.
Get a grip —literally — on some of the species that live in the cold North Atlantic at the Salton’s Brook Visitor Centre, where the marine exhibit features touch tanks that allow visitors to hold a live crab or sea star. Look for more of the same outside the centre by wandering the park’s seaweed- and seashell-strewn coastline.
Get a first-hand view of the park’s sheltered inlets and inlands from a sea kayak. Guided tours launch from Newman Sound. Or hit the water on your own and keep your eyes peeled for seals, whales, ospreys and bald eagles.