Berry Head Arch on the Spurwink Island Path of the East Coast Trail

Hiking the East Coast Trail: Spurwink Island Path

The East Coast Trail is a backpacking trail of 25 paths connected. Hikers can hike the trail in its entirety or in sections. This article lists the different paths of the East Coast Trail and their distance and covers a description of the Spurwink Island Path to the famous Berry Head Arch.

Where is the East Coast Trail

The East Coast Trail follows Newfoundland’s east coast from Cappahayden all the way north to Cape St Francis and south to Topsail on the other side of the peninsula. 

Save it for later.

Hiker on top of Berry Arch on the Spurwink Island part of the East Coast Trail
Randonneur sur l'arche Berry sur le secteur Spurwink Island du sentier East Coast

How long is the East Coast Trail

The East Coast Trail comprises 25 different paths that include 336 kilometres from community to community along the coast. 

About the East Coast Trail

Spurwink Island Path trailhead sign for the East Coast Trail

There is so much to explore on the East Coast Trail that the best way to appreciate it would be to hike the entirety of the trail. However, as this would take weeks, the other option is to choose a section of the trail to walk. 

The trail brings hikers over cliffs with stunning ocean views, including crashing waves, infinite blue waters, sea stacks, lighthouses, a geyser and an arch. In addition, hikers could be treated to whales swimming close to shore and a variety of wildlife along the way.

Since the idea of a multi-day backpacking trail came to life in the mid-90s, the trail has grown in distance to reach 336 kilometres of path, and plans are to have it extend to 500 kilometres. The trail is maintained by a team of volunteers and relies on donations. 

The East Coast Trail is part of the Great Trail that crosses Canada from ocean to ocean. 

Views from the Spurwink Island Path on the East Coast Trail
View from Sugarloaf Path on the East Coast Trail

East Coast Trail Sections and distances (for northbound hikers)

  1. Highland Meadow Path  – 10 km starting at Cappahayden
  2. Bear Cove Point Path – 12 km (plus 5 km walk through communities)
  3. Spurwink Island Path – 20 km (plus 7 km walk through communities)
  4. Sounding Hills Path – 5 km  *closed until further notice
  5. Caplin Bay Path – 6 km (plus 1,4 km walk through communities)
  6. Cape Broyle Head Path – 20 km (plus 5 km walk through communities)
  7. Brigus Head Path – 6 km (plus 8 km walk through communities)
  8. Flamber Head Path – 11,5 km (plus 1,4 km walk through communities)
  9. La Manche Village Path – 6 km (plus 1,4 km walk through communities)
  10. Tinkers Point Path – 5 km (plus 800 m walk through communities)
  11. Beaches Path – 7 km (plus 1,1 km walk through communities)
  12. Mickeleens Path – 7 km (plus 4,6 km walk through communities)
  13. Spout Path – 16 km (plus 5 km walk through communities)
  14. Motion Path – 14 km (plus 6 km walk through communities)
  15. Cape Spear Path – 14 km (plus 2,6 km walk through communities)
  16. Deadman’s Bay Path – 10,5 km (plus 250 m walk through communities)
  17. Sugarloaf Path – 9 km (plus 7 km walk through communities)
  18. Cobblers Path – 5 km (plus 4 km walk through communities)
  19. Silver Mine Head Path – 4 km (plus 2 km walk through communities)
  20. Father Troy’s Path – 9 km (plus 1,3 km walk through communities)
  21. Stiles Cove Path – 15 km (plus 1,5 km walk through communities)
  22. Biscan Cove Path – 7 km (plus 2 km walk through communities)
  23. White Horse Path – 18 km (plus 600 m walk through communities)
  24. Piccos Ridge Path – 14,5 km (plus 600 m walk through communities)
  25. Long Shore Path – 17 km (plus 1 km walk through communities) ending at Topsail

If you are planning on backpacking this fantastic trail, you will need appropriate backpacking gear for your extended adventure on this trail. Be safe and enjoy the scenes thoroughly.

The section before Spurwink Island Path

If you are hiking northbound, the Path before Spurwink Island Path is Bear Cove Point Path. It goes from Renews to Kingman’s Cove. This Path is 12 kilometres and features the Bear Cove Lighthouse. 

Spurwink Island Path to Berry Head Arch

It was hard to choose which section of the East Coast Trail to hike. I hesitated between the spout and the arch. The arch won. We decided to hike to the arch and back as we did not plan for a shuttle to bring us back to our car to do the whole 20 kilometres point to point. 

We started at the trailhead in Port Kirwan from the community centre’s parking lot. It is about 1 hour and 15 minutes south of St. John’s and 5 minutes east of Fermeuse. 

Port Kirwan is a small community, and locals seem used to hikers coming through the town. We talked with the lady next door to the community centre; she was kind enough to give us some pointers on the trail as benchmarks for us to find and explore.

The Arch is at kilometre 8, which makes the return 16 kilometres. It is considered a challenging trail, especially if you are backpacking. However, I found it mostly a moderate hike since I only carried a much lighter day-pack.

On the Trail

The trail is up the road from the community centre, where hikers can park their cars. You hike up the road and down towards a field where farmers might be hard at work while you play. 

The trail follows the farmer’s field still on the dirt road. Be aware of the signs, as they will tell you when to head into the forest. From there, it follows the coast (no surprise there) under the canopy of trees. 

There are a lot of ups and downs, as the trail is sometimes a soft pine needles carpet, sometimes a rocky or muddy path. Thankfully rocks and logs help us get through without getting too dirty. Volunteers that maintain the trail have been busy. Some makeshift wooden stairs and boardwalks look relatively new.

dirt packed trail on the east coast
rocky trail in the forest on the east coast
white blaze indicating the way on the east coast trail
makeshift boardwalk on the trail bordered by fur trees

There are many lookouts on the way – all are worth the short side trail to get to (just a few metres each), and a stop at Chance Bay and Barry Head is a must.

Hiking the trail northbound, these are the lookouts and key points on the trail:

Chance Bay km 4.5 

Black Head

Barry Head km 8 – The Berry Head Arch stands in all its glory. It is an impressive bridge of rock with trees growing on top. A side trail brings hikers to the top of the arch. Keep an eye out on the ocean; you might see whales in the distance. 

Berry Head Arch on the Spurwink Island Path
Coastline view fron the Spurwink Island Path

While we were having a snack by the arch, a few whales came up and out of the water to say hi! We can easily spot their waterspout as they come up to breathe on this beautiful sunny and clear day. 

Gallows campsites km 9 – Backpackers can spend the night in one of the Gallows campsites. This is on a first-come, first-served basis; no reservations are required.

The trail continues to Aquaforte 8 kilometres further.

The following section after Spurwink Island Path

*Note that the next section after the Spurwink Island Path is closed indefinitely. Hikers can walk from Aquaforte to Herring Cove and return. 

Please Donate to Keep it Alive.

As mentioned earlier, the trail association is managed by volunteers and relies on donations. Therefore, if you enjoy hiking a section of this trail or its entirety, consider donating as a show of appreciation.

For more adventures in this beautiful province, check out my post on my road trip to Newfoundland.

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      1. Google suggested this article. Thank you for sharing! Never knew it exists and now is on my bucket list. Great article and pics – certainly looks and reads like you had a wonderful time!

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