ECT Series: Father Troy Trail

One of the things I find hilarious about hiking in Newfoundland is how quickly and frequently the weather can change. I took a lot of videos on my trip home to compile for reels on Instagram and it’s hard to believe any of the reels were all filmed on the same day. The weather loves to go from sun to fog to wind to rain, sometimes all at the same time! Such was our hike along Father Troy Trail in mid June.

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This was my third time hiking Father Troy Trail and I’m always blown away by the scenery on this part of the East Coast Trail. It’s approximately 9km in length and runs from Flatrock to Torbay. Given its proximity to St. John’s and it’s relatively easy rating, it’s a great hike to do when you have limited time – though be cautious because it’s so scenic it’s easy to lose track of time!

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Emily was working the whole time I was home, but she went in early so that she could get off at 3pm and we could hike together. Karen and Grant also recently moved home to Newfoundland and I had a brief window in which to see them when I was there in June. We agreed to meet up in Torbay to ferry a second car to Flatrock to do a thru-hike of Father Troy Trail when Emily got off work. We parked Grant’s car on Spray Lane in Torbay (there’s a small parking lot here) and drove Emily’s car to Flatrock to start the hike.

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The trail starts right at the public wharf in Flatrock and hikes out along the rock to the point before doubling back on itself. There’s a lovely view of the water and Flatrock from the point, but it’s mostly the same view along the whole point, so we cut across the headland to shorten it a bit on the way in. If it’s your first time on the trail though, I recommend going the whole way to the point!

It’s always windy in Flatrock because the wind blows right up over the rock and this trip was no exception. There are some lovely views looking out towards Silver Mine Head Path and the trail meanders along the bluff in and out of the trees. It’s a sheer rock face on the south side of the headland and people rock climb it from below, so use caution along the bluff.

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The trail continues in and out of the trees before eventually heading into a wooded section. We started with clear views, but the fog bank that had been sitting offshore all day was on the move with all the wind and every time we popped out of the trees, less and less of the coastline was visible. Before cutting into the woods we got our first whale sighting of the season and spotted a small minke whale fishing off the cliffside. The seagulls were going nuts in the water as well, so we were encouraged that the caplin had likely made it to the island. Eventually we lost the view entirely and cut into the forest for the longer wooded section of the hike. There are a few shortcuts through the woods, but they’re in rough shape, so I don’t think they’re really any faster than the main trail.

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From there the trail continues through the woods along an old road. It doesn’t sound super exciting, but it’s one of my favourite parts of the trail! There’s a really quaint wooden fence and huge fields of wildflowers, behind which you can see the beginnings of Torbay. I believe it’s privately owned farmland, but it’s currently unoccupied, so we frolicked in the flowers for awhile before hitting another parcel of farmland that was occupied by cows. Cows really are some of the sweetest animals, so we stopped for a while to let them stare at us before continuing on.

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After you exit the woods, you get to my true favourite part of the trail – the hike along the bluffs that form the edge of Torbay. Again, it’s all meadows and farmland, which make for the most idyllic views on a nice day. We were expecting to have completely lost the view to the fog, but fortunately the wind had changed direction again while we were in the woods and we were treated to bright blue water and sunny skies! It’s an easy hike all along the bluffs and we frequently stopped for photos. It’s a steady downhill to Torbay Beach and then it’s just one more short uphill section back to the parking lot on Spray Lane. We cut off ~1km by skipping the point in Flatrock and ended up finishing the hike in just under 2.5 hours, so it was a great late afternoon/early evening hike for us.

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Many sections of the ECT are “one of my favourite trails”, but this definitely still holds true for Father Troy. I’ve hiked it 3 times now and I’d definitely hike it again. At under 3 hours for a thru-hike, you get a lot of amazing scenery! Plus, I loved the opportunity to hike this one with Karen and Grant. A great trail for beginner hikers!

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