French Shore Trek and Boat Tour
On July 20, IAT Chairperson Paul Wylezol, volunteer Brandie-Lyn Leafloor and hiker Connie Lebrun from Alberta headed out from the lookoff above Conche on the eastern side of Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula on a two-day trek of the IATNL French Shore Trail, followed by a full-day boat tour of the surrounding islands and headlands to view icebergs and whales, seals and seabirds. The goal was to plan the logistics for upcoming guided treks and boat tours of the scenic and historic French Shore.
The IATNL French Shore Trail begins at the communication tower above Conche, near the scenic lookoff overlooking Conche and Crouse Harbours and Peninsulas, and the North and South Grey Islands. Though the trail is cut halfway to the community of Croque, it is not yet marked with signs and blazes.
After a 4-hour trek along the 500ft coastal mountains overlooking Crouse Harbour
the trail descends to the shoreline of the north cove where Crouse Peninsula joins the mainland. Along the way hikers get spectacular views of headlands and coves, and the many icebergs dotting the coastline and harbour.
In the cove there's a narrow pebble beach and wide grassy meadow which is great for camping and bonfires. In the case of our three hikers, it is also a great place to listen to and watch a large iceberg, as it groans under its own weight, then splits in two.
On Day Two the three hiked up the hillside connecting Crouse Peninsula, and were rewarded with fantastic views of Crouse Harbour and Pillier Bay.
A half-hour walk from there, a series of scenic waterfalls cascades to the ocean below. A number of small pools enable hikers to cool off and wash up.
The round-trip from camp to the waterfalls at Pillier Cove can be done comfortably in 6 hours, allowing plenty of time to take in the views and soak up the sun and brook.
Day Three began with a long-liner steaming into the harbour and pulling up to shore. From here our hikers set off on a day-long boat ride around the Grey Islands to see icebergs and whales, seals and porpoises, and a wide array of seabirds - from puffins and razorbills, cormorants and murres, to gulls and terns.
Back in port after 3 days of sun, dozens of icebergs, and thousands of photos, it was agreed: the wild and rugged coastline of the French Shore at Conche is a spectacular landscape with abundant wildlife and natural wonders.