The Gravels Walking Trail
The little isthmus that could
This multipurpose stop gives travellers a place to stretch their legs, fill their stomachs and dip their toes in the water while surrounded by historical significance and sweet and fresh coastal Newfoundland air.
After a fifteen-minute drive from Stephenville you’ll find yourself on an isthmus connecting the Port au Port Peninsula to the rest of the rock. Park your car in the ample space provided and read about the history of the area from the bilingual (English and French) storyboards.
The Gravels Beach was reportedly visited by Jacques Cartier in 1534. Centuries later, the entire isthmus was covered by a flood in 1951—cutting off the peninsula from the rest of the island for a period of time. Check out the lobster traps and old dry docked boat on site and then head out on the 7 km round trip Gravels Walking Trail. At the end of the trail, before you head back for a picnic on the beach, visit the Aguathuna Quarry and let your inner rock hound howl. Bitumen fossils, barite and celestite have all been reported found in the area.
Before you leave take a look at Port au Port Bay through the mounted binoculars—for free! No need for quarters or loonies here. But if you do want to spend a dollar or two head across the street to western Newfoundland’s oldest fabrication building. Abbot & Haliburton houses dollar stores and more. These buildings are common in the area as they provided a quick way to get a structure up and get a business rolling.
Marija Dumancic is an Alberta native, born in Calgary and raised in Drumheller. Having lived and worked all over the world, she's currently posted in Ottawa with Canadian Geographic magazine.