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:: When to Walk
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The Skerwink Trail is walkable mainly from spring to fall during daylight hours.

Please note that the trail may be slippery when it’s wet. It is not intended to be hiked in icy
or snowy conditions, when it can be dangerous.

:: Amenities
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Signs and signposts are placed along the trail to provide clear direction.

The Skerwink Trail is enhanced with boardwalks in muddy areas, stairs in steep sections,
and a few benches (see map) (LINK) for resting and taking in the views. There is a viewing
platform at the top of the Lookout Trail.

The trail does not offer washrooms, drinking water, or other amenities.

:: What You'll See / Nature
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The Skerwink Trail loop skirts the north and south coasts of Skerwink Head, a rocky peninsula that separates Trinity’s harbour from Port Rexton’s.

Formed mainly of sedimentary rock (much of it sandstone), its exposed stone profile has been
shaped by the pounding it takes from the Atlantic, especially during strong northeasterlies, as well
as by Newfoundland’s perennial freeze/thaw cycles.

The Skerwink Trail offers naturalists both seaside and forest/interior environments (which are also
Notable natural features you may see on your hike include:

 
 
 
 
 
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i> Ancient sedimentary rock. The Bonavista Peninsula was once part of Africa (a mere
i580 million years ago). Its layers of sedimentary bedrock are clearly visible at the coast,
iwhere they are exposed. On Skerwink Head, these bedrock layers are tilted almost,
i90° which has contributed to some of the dramatic landforms you see along
ithe headland’s edges.
i
> Sea stacks. Located just off the north shore of Skerwink, these stacks appeared after
ithe last Ice Age, which ended about 10,000 years ago. Over time, water infiltrated cracks iin the sedimentary rock. It expanded when frozen, causing further cracks and eventually
ibreaking down the solid rock, separating these free-standing columns from the shore.
iEach sea stack has a name. The “Music Box” suggests the sound the wind makes when
iblowing around the stack. “Flat Fish” is named for its shape: it resembles a flounder.
iLook for otters around the bases of the sea stacks.
i
> Sea caves and arches. Visible more easily from the water (by boat), Skerwink’s coastline
ialso features a number of caves and arches, which also resulted from water’s freezing
i force.
i
> Capelin beaches. Favoured by spawning capelin, these beaches can become spongy
iwith fish eggs in season (traditionally late June or early July). Capelin beaches
iare marked on the trailhead map.
i
> Glimpses of seabirds. Herring gulls, great black-backed gulls, black-legged kittiwakes,
iguillemots, and gannets are among the most common seabirds spotted from
ithe trail’s promontories.
i
> Glimpses of whales, in season. Humpbacks (mainly in June and July) and minkes
i(usually seen for over a slightly longer season) can be spotted from the trail.
i
> Bird life. The forests, bogs, and coastal areas of Skerwink offer a wide array of species
ifor birdwatchers—from bald eagles and merlin to grey jays and rock ptarmigan.
iIn protected and meadow/wooded areas, you may see a variety of warblers and sparrows,
ias well as juncos, blue jays, and robins—and possibly a northern flicker, kingfisher,
ior greater yellowlegs (by the pond).
i
> Tuckamore. These short, thickly matted spruce or fir trees grow only in our most
iexposed coastal areas, including the tip of Skerwink Head. Though stunted in stature,
ithey may be several decades old.
i
> Icebergs. They don’t visit every year, but when the Labrador Current brings bergs
ito Trinity Bay, they make a spectacular sight.
i
> Quartz. There’s an exposed vein of quartz at the eastern end of Sam White’s Cove,
iwhich contributes white quartz stones to the nearby beach.
i
> A range of flora. Crowberry carpeting the forest, old man’s beard hanging from the
iconifers, beach peas on the rolling stones of Sam White’s Cove, rhodora azalea
iin the bogs, water lilies in Farm Pond, Indian pipe hiding in the glades …
ithere is a wide range of plant life to discover on your hike around Skerwink.

:: What You’ll See / Cultural heritage
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The Skerwink Trail is situated in an historic area, one of the first places to be settled in Newfoundland.

The original settlers over-wintered in the early 1600s. Trinity’s magnificent harbour—which you see
during the last third of the trail—made this area one of the most defensible and desirable
in eastern Newfoundland.By the late 1700s, Trinity was a humming mercantile centre. It was flanked
by communities inhabited by fishermen, merchants, sea captains, tradesmen, and their families.

A few traces and sights along the trail that point to the area’s rich cultural heritage include:

i> The old railbed. You follow its route as you begin your hike. Many of the communities
iin the “Trinity Bight” were connected to each other—and to the outside world—by train
iin the early 1900s. (photo)
i
> Fox Island. This rugged spot—actually a peninsula—was used in the 1600s as a defensible
iretreat, safe from the marauding French.
i
> Communities to the north: Three Champneys (East, West, and Champneys Arm),
iPort Rexton, and English Harbour.
i
> Gardens out on the head. In the right light, at certain times of the year, you can still
ipick out the location of old garden beds. People would have walked out as far as the
iheadland to find good ground for growing, and left shore-side areas for fish flakes.
i
> Fort Point. Right at the end of the spit guarding Trinity Harbour, where now
ia Coast Guard light stands sentinel, was once an 18th-century British fort.
iIn 1762, it was captured by the French and destroyed.
i
> The spot where the Marion Rogers went down. She was almost safely home, when on
ia blizzardy November 27, 1938, she crashed into the rocks just off the Fort Point
ilighthouse, at the mouth of Trinity Harbour. No one was saved.
i
> Communities to the south. Trinity East and Trinity itself, and the headlands off Old
iand New Bonaventure. These communities, together with those to the north and a few
iyou can’t quite see from the trail (the two Bonaventures, Dunfield, Trouty, Goose Cove, iand Lockston), are the settlements of “the Trinity Bight.”
i
> Sam White’s Cove. This little cove was probably where the first people to settle in
iTrinity harbour built their homes. Offering both a protected cove for boats and wharves,
iand close proximity to fishing grounds, early planters would have seen it as a prime spot
ito set down roots.

:: Accessibility & Gear
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The Skerwink Trail is rated Moderate to Difficult. People with serious mobility issues will not
be able to hike the entire route, but may enjoy the first and last stretches (each less than
a kilometre). The former is a flat rail bed, and the latter is a fairly flat stretch between a rock
beach and the trailhead/end, around a pond.

No special gear is required to hike the trail, although footwear with good support and
treads is recommended.

As everyone familiar with Newfoundland knows, the weather can be changeable.
For your comfort and enjoyment, dress appropriately, and be prepared for cold winds to blow
in off the water and for unexpected rain.

:: Trail Dos and Don’ts
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i > To prevent erosion, please stay on the trail and avoid taking shortcuts.
i > Exercise extreme caution around high cliffs and areas prone to erosion.
iStay away from cliff edges.
i > Pack out what you pack in, and do not leave any garbage on the trail.
iHikers are responsible for keeping Skerwink clean.
i > Fires along the trail are prohibited.
i > Keep your dog on a leash at all times.
i > Please respect all plant and animal life, and take nothing but photographs.
i > For their safety, small children should be supervised at all times.

:: Help Us Care for Skerwink
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The Town of Port Rexton assumed responsibility for the Skerwink Trail in 2008. Today,
the Town of Trinity and the people in the Trinity Bight area also actively participate
in caring for the trail.

We depend on donations to maintain and upgrade Skerwink. You can help us.
Click here to become a Friend of Skerwink, and please make a contribution
at the donation box at the trailhead.

View the Trail
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Returnable print maps are available at the trailhead.
You can also print one here.

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