Monday, October 31, 2016

What is the Newfoundland T'Railway?

Welcome to the Crossing Newfoundland by ATV Blog. Everything you need to know to do this trip here - be sure to check back often as I update regularly. 

You may also find handy information and discussions on my FACEBOOK page. There are dozens of NL videos on my EastCoastATV YouTube channel as well.

Click to download GPS Tracks and my Day by Day Guide.

ATV TRIP OF A LIFETIME
The T'Railway is probably the most unique 883 kilometers of ATV trail anywhere and it spans one of the most scenic provinces in Canada. 
The Newfoundland ATV Trip packs in enough scenery to impress even the most enthusiastic ATV adventure seekers. Cliff-side ocean views, mountains, flat lands, rivers, lakes, beaches, waterfalls and wildlife are some of what you can expect to see in one week from coast to coast.  If you enjoy ATV riding, beautiful scenery and friendly people... this trip is for you! 

There are 14 pages on this site, five of which are photos and videos from different trips I've done. Further down this page is an overview of what is contained in the blog. Read through it to get an idea of what posts might help you most. If you've never done this trip before, you'll probably just want to read them all. Don't forget to check out the amazing pictures and videos!



Why I Made The Blog
After hearing it was possible to cross NL by ATV I searched the Internet looking for information but I couldn't find anything. So, friends and I did the trip on our own and winged it. Since then, I've done the trip several times.

I documented everything I learned and posted it on this blog so others could enjoy it. I'm glad to learn that many people have completed the trip because they found this information. 

My goal was to help people do this trip without a guide. Even if you do use a guide, this site will give you a good idea of what you can expect to see. If you like what you see, tell your friends. Thanks!


A bit of trail history:
In 1988 the train stopped running, the tracks were removed the trail was essentially abandoned. In 1997 the scenic trail was re-purposed and renamed The T'Railway Provincial Park. Thousands of ATV enthusiasts across Canada and the USA have done the Newfoundland ATV Tour and some return annually, like me! 



 




GPS Tracks
This GPS track covers all the different trips I've done from 2013 until 2016. 
All together in one file

FIRST TIME ON THE BLOG?
At the top right side of every page are links to each blog post. Here is a breakdown:

Should you take a tour guide 
On the fence about hiring a guide or going by yourself? Read my thoughts.
Learn everything you need to know such as :
-where to leave your car/truck and trailer before getting on the ferry
-where to find the trail when getting off the ferry either in Argentia or Port Aux Basques
-how to get around the 32 km gap in the trail between Pasadena and Corner Brook 
-how much the trip may cost you
and answers to 20  frequently asked questions
You'll ride up to 1000 km (600 miles) in a week. Prepare.
Camping or Motels? Either way I'll tell you what you may want to take.
Pictures & Videos
Warning - looking at the pictures and videos from our trips will make you want to go! 
Helpful details you'll want to know for each day of the trip.
Simple steps to get you started on planning your trip!

2016 Photos and Videos 
Get a feel for the trail with pictures and videos. Check out the 2013 trip pictures too, it includes a lot of daily details.
Trailway official website 
The T'Railway Provincial Park official website. Look for the handy kilometer guide, print a copy and take it with you.  

What do I need to legally travel the trail?
You have to wear a helmet, be insured, and have current vehicle plates and registration in your home area. Also, Newfoundland Law requires you to have a fire extinguisher. One per group is probably fine.

Overall Trip Map (click to open in separate window)
This is an invaluable tool! I use it all the time as a reference. You can click on each track and each picture and information will popup in a window.
Zoom in to the start of the trail on the East Coast and follow the trail as it works it way West. You'll see where we stop for gas, motels, camping, food and more. You can click on any of the icons for more information.





Sunday, October 30, 2016

What Route Should I Take?

How to Determine what Route You Should Take:

Ask yourself these questions then review some options I have outlined below.

1. How many days should my trip be?
This is probably the most important question because your route will need to be adjusted if you're limited to the number of days you can spend there. For example - if you have less than 6 riding days available I would suggest doing a west coast tour. If you have six or more days available you can do the entire Island. The more time you have the more you can see.

2. How much money do I want to spend?

Crossing Newfoundland in 2016 over 7 days and spending each night in a motel cost me about $1,400 - $1,500 total with double occupancy for motel rooms. It could be more or less depending on where you stay and what you eat. If you do some camping it will save you money on motel rooms. Usually the single biggest expense is the Ferry itself. Crossing the whole island by starting in Argentia and ending in Port Aux Basques would cost you $512.00 per person based on double occupancy.

If you're looking to save on your costs you could consider a west coast only trip and take the Port Aux Basques Ferry over and back. That ferry costs half as much as the Argentia ferry.

The Argentia Ferry (for two people) with ATV's and a room costs $325 each. The Port Aux Basques Ferry for two people with ATV's and a room costs $164.00 each. You could get away without a room on the Port Aux Basques run (for day trips) as it's only 6-7 hours vs 16 hours for the Argentia run. Without a room that the price drops to about $100 per crossing. If you take the night run you'll probably want a room.

3. Motels, Camping or mix of both?
If you want to do some camping you may be limited to what route you want to take depending on where you like to camp. If you don't mind camping anywhere on the trail - say in an open field - you can do whatever trip you want. If you want to camp on lakes and beaches your route will change.

See a few of my options below. Feel free to follow one exactly as mentioned or use one as a guide and tweak to your own specifications. Don't forget to check out my photos pages to see all of the places I mention below or better yet check out some of the videos.

OPTION 1 - ENTIRE ISLAND in 6 DAYS
Stay in motels or a mix of motels and camping.

You'll drive about 900 km  over 6 days. This is a simple and straight forward way to cross the whole island and is perfect if it's your first time.   I wrote "first-time" because you can't do this trip just once. Once you go, you're hooked! You'll see all the major scenery on this route. You can spend each night in motels/cabins or do a mixture of 2 nights camping and 3 nights motels/cabins. Check out the 2014 photos page to see what this trip looked like. 
Click here to see an online Quick Guide to planning this trip.

Day 1 - Argentia to Clarenville (St. Jude's Motel)
Day 2 - Clarenville to Gander (Comfort Inn Motel)
Day 3 - Gander to Badger (Trailblazer's or Badger Motel)
Day 4 - Badger to Howley/Deer Lake (Choice of camping or Motel)
Pitch a tent at the beach in Howley if you want to do some camping. I suggest the Maritime Inn in Deer Lake if you want to stay in a motel. It's about another 25 km further west of Howley.
Day 5 - Deer Lake to Robinsons (Pirate's Haven Chalets or Cliffside Cottages)
Rent one of three beautiful chalets at Pirate's Haven or pitch a tent at their campground. You could also stay at the Cliffside Cottages and have a beautiful view of the ocean or pitch a tent near the bluffs there.
Day 6 - Robinsons to Port Aux Basques (Ferry ride to Nova Scotia)
A relatively short run, only 100 km, but it could take a while because there is so much beautiful scenery you'll want to stop to take pictures of the amazing coastline, table mountains, lakes and beaches.

OPTION 2 - ENTIRE ISLAND in 7 DAYS
Stay in Motels 3 nights and camp 3 nights. 
You'll do about 1000 km on this trip in 7 days. Choose camping or motels in some locations, like Gander, but there is no choice but to camp at Serpentine Lake. It's absolutely beautiful there and a must place to stay if you love camping! Check out the 2014 & 2015 pictures links on the right of the blog to see us camping there.
Day 1 - Argentia to Clarenville (St. Jude's Motel)
Day 2 - Clarenville to Gander (Country Inn Motel & Camping)

You can rent a room at the Country Inn or pitch a tent there, or stay at the Comfort Inn.
Day 3 - Gander to Badger (Trailblazers Efficiency Unit or Badger Motel)

Day 4 - Badger to Howley (Camping on a lake beach)
Day 5 - Deer Lake to Serpentine Lake (camping on a lake beach)
Day 6 - Serpentine Lake to Robinsons (Pirate's Haven Chalets)
Day 7 - Robinsons to Port Aux Basques (ferry ride to Nova Scotia)


OPTION 3 - ENTIRE ISLAND in 7 DAYS

We did this trip in September 2016 and stayed in motels and cabins each night.
You'll do about 1250 km in 7 days. This is the longest trip of all the options listed. A few of the days you'll put on 200 km or more so be prepared for long days. If you're hard core about getting in as much scenery in one trip as possible this is the trip for you!
Day 1 - Argentia to Clarenville (St. Jude's Motel)
Day 2 - Clarenville to Gander (campground at Country Inn Motel & Camping)
Day 3 - Gander to Badger (Trailblazers or Badger Motel)
You can go straight from Gander to Badger on the railbed or you can take a side trip to the Sabena Plane Crash Site. This adds a lot of miles to your day but the plane crash site is quite something to see. Check out my 2016 photos page to see for yourself.
Day 4 - Badger to Lomond (Lomond Lodge)
Stop at the giant sink hole on your way to Lomond Lodge. It was featured on the NL episode of Man Tracker. It's quite something to see in person. 
Day 5 - Lomond to Corner Brook (River's End Motel or Marblewood Village Resort)
Stop in beautiful Woody Point for gas and take some pictures. Then stop in Cox's Cove on your way to Corner Brook. Fantastic trails and scenery all day.
Day 6 - Corner Brook to Robinson's (Pirate's Haven Chalets)
Start the day by being trucked about 10 im to the trail head or take a challenging trail to get there instead, your choice.
Day 7 - Robinson to Port Aux Basques
Finish off the trip by seeing some of the most beautiful scenery on the entire week. There's mountains, coast line, lakes, and beaches. 

OPTION 4 - WEST COAST 5 DAY TOUR

About 635-650 km or more depending on if you do extra exploring. This trip will save you time and money but the last two days require you to backtrack. Some people don't like the idea of back tracking but it doesn't bother me. You get to see some of the nicest scenery twice!
Day 1 - Port Aux Basques to Stephenville Crossing (Dhoon Lodge or Hotel Stephenville)
About 170 km. A few minutes after you get off the boat you'll be absolutely amazed at the lakes, beaches and magnificent coast line views. Take a stop at the top of the table top mountains for a post card view of the valley below then stop for the night around the Stephenville area.
Day 2 - Stephenville Crossing to Deer Lake (Maritime Inn)
About 80 km trail riding and 30 km being trucked by Cecil Anderson to Deer Lake. The trail ends in Corner Brook and there is a gap between it and Pasadena (20km outside Deer Lake). Get Cecil Anderson to pick you up and take you where you need to get to go. Stop for the night in Deer Lake.
Day 3 - Deer Lake to Corner Brook (River's End Motel)
About 145 km this day. Ride north to the sinkhole in Lomond then to Cox's Cove and Corner Brook.
Day 4 - Corner Brook to Robinsons (Pirate's Haven Chalets)
About 130 km this day. Start the day by being truck to the start of the railbed or if you're adventurous take the challenging bypass trail through CornerBrook to the railbed.
Day 5 - Robinson's to Port Aux Basques
About 110 km and a repeat of what you saw the first day - but that's okay because it's probably some of the most beautiful scenery the entire province has to offer!

More options to come


Below is the entire NL Trip Map. You can zoom in close to see details and click on the little icons - they each have information.

CLICK TO SEE MAP IN LARGER WINDOW




Saturday, October 29, 2016

Should You Take A Tour Guide?


I've done the trip seven times and I've never used a guide because I wanted the freedom to take my time and explore. But, the trip is nearly 1,000 km (600 miles) or more, depending on which route you take. (See the "What Route Should I Take" page for examples.) 
Attempting this trip without a guide the first time could be higher than your comfort level will allow for, and that's okay. 

If you're a little adventurous and want to do it without a guide please download my GPS tracks, study them, and read the rest of my blog. Feel free to email with questions patrickryan57@hotmail.com. Seriously, it's not that difficult. If you're comfortable with a GPS or smartphone with a GPS AP like Locus, you can do this trip just following my tracks. Dozens of people have emailed me and told me they did the trip because of my blog. 

If you want to hire a guide I recommend Cecil Anderson of Newfoundland Outdoor Adventures at 709-686-5534 (personal phone). He knows the trail like the back of his hand. Very nice man. If you're doing this trip on your own and you want to hire a guide for a day trip up to Lomond Sink Hole, call Cecil. 

I can't really recommend a particular tour company from NB. I met several customers and hear a few consistent things:
-way too much highway riding (sometimes up to 100 km in a day!)
-customers feel rushed to get to their final destination every day 
-not enough stops for photos.

Guide PROS
  • You don't have to do any research i.e. reading this blog. (but it's fun reading it!)
  • Guides know where to stay, eat, get fuel, etc.(all of that is on this site too)
  • Typically a good guide will arrange everything - ferry crossings, motels/cabins, meals, fuel stops and scenic locations. 
  • Your days are scheduled by someone else (that could be a pro or con)
Guide CONS
  • Some guides run long sections of paved highways instead of trails. It 's not what you're paying for. 
  • Cost - it will cost you more. I did it on my own in 2014 and it cost about $1,000.00 with a mix of motels and camping and spent $1,400.00 (total) in 2016 staying at motels and cabins each night. A guided trip could cost double that.
  • Don't have the satisfaction of knowing you did it on your own.
  • Your days are scheduled by someone else. It's nice to go at your own pace and stop when you want to for breaks and photos etc.
  • Some guides are not as knowledgeable as others. September 2016 I came across a group of guys using a guide service and they missed a lot of nice spots including the Gaff Topsail. I couldn't believe it. The Gaff is one of the best parts of the trip. Do some research on your guide before going and maybe ask if they have any references. 


Friday, October 28, 2016

Planning Your Newfoundland ATV Trip

Contact me: patrickryan57@hotmail.com

FAQ List
I want to map out a trip across the Island - where do I start?
Can I do this trip by myself?
How long does it take to cross Newfoundland by ATV?
Do you have to travel the entire Island or can you do just a portion of it?
Why do some people travel from Port Aux Basques and back instead of going across the whole island?
What is the best way to get there?
How long is the ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland?
Should I start the trip on the West (Port Aux Basques) or East (Argentia)?
How much will it cost to take the Marine Atlantic Ferry?
Where can I leave my car/truck and trailer?
How much gas will our ATVs use? 
How much for motel/hotel rooms?
How about the cost of food?
Can you give me an approximate "total cost" for the entire trip?
Can you ride an ATV directly on the ferry or do you have to haul it? 
What is the condition of the trail? 
I heard there is a GAP in the trail around Corner Brook. Is it difficult to get around?
Can you drive your ATV right off the ferry to the trail in Argentia? 
Can you give me directions to the trail from the Argentia Terminal? 
Can you drive your ATV right off the ferry to the trail in Port Aux Basque?

TRIP ROUTE
Q. I want to map out a trip across the Island - where do I start?
A. Take a look at these GPS Tracks. They start in Argentia and end in Port Aux Basques
Argentia to Clarenville, Clarenville to Gander, Gander to Badger, Badger to Deer Lake, Deer Lake to Robinson's, Robinson's to Port Aux BasquesThe tracks shows how many miles we traveled each day, how long it took and where we stopped for fuel. You can download them and save them in your GPS to follow along when you arrive in Argentia. 
Entire Trip Map DOWNLOADABLE

Also check out the Entire Trip Map in Google Maps. You can zoom in very close to the icons I placed on the map so see where we stopped for motels, gas, food, and camping.

Optional - purchase "Trans Canada Trail" by Sue Lebrecht. This book is fantastic. It contains a detailed map broken into sections and has a lot of information for each section of the trail. I bought my copy online through Amazon.ca.


Q. Can I do this trip by myself?
A. Sure, but I wouldn't suggest it. It's more fun with other people. More importantly, if you have a mechanical breakdown or a medical emergency your life could depend on having another person with you. It could be a long time before someone found you if you needed help.

Q. How long does it take to cross Newfoundland by ATV?
A. From coast to coast it's approximately 900 km and 6 days of traveling depending on your route if you follow the rail bed only. You could take 7 days or more and drive over 1200 km if you take side trips. Check out my "What Route Should I Take" page to help you decide. You can take more days or less depending on how fast you ride and if you like camping.  

Q.
Do you have to travel the entire Island or can you do just a portion of it?

A. You can go for as long as you'd like; a few days, a week, 10 days or more - it's up to you. It's all in how you plan your trip.

Q. Why do some people travel half way and back instead of going across the whole island?
A. I've gone across the entire Island East to West (Argentia - Port Aux Basques) and also half way from West to Central (Port Aux Basques - Grand Falls) and back. I enjoyed both trips very much. I can’t really suggest one over the other but I think there are a few reasons some choose the half-way and back option:
  1. Port Aux Basques, Wreck House, Serpentine Lake, Georges Lake, Deer Lake, and the Gaff Topsail are all on the West/Central Regions. I feel those areas offer the nicest scenery. Once you pass Badger (heading East) you don't have as nice of scenery, in my opinion.
  2. The ferry from Nova Scotia to Port Aux Basques is 6-7 hours vs. 16 hours to Argentia, and it costs half as much. If you are on a budget, and don't want to be on a 16 hr ferry those would be important considerations. If you do the whole island I suggest East to West as the scenery continually gets better and better and you take the short ferry home after a long trip, which is nice.
Q. What is the best way to get there?
A. If you're taking an ATV with you there is only one way - the Marine Atlantic ferry. They have a few ferries making the journey. One heads to the West Coast and the other to the East Coast. They both leave from North Sydney, Nova Scotia. 





Q. How long is the ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland?
A.  
North Sydney to Argentia (east coast) 15-16 hours. 
North Sydney to Port Aux Basques (west coast) 6-8 hours

I suggest getting a room, otherwise known as a berth, for each trip, especially the 15 hour one. You'll thank me!

Q. Should I start the trip on the West (Port Aux Basques) or East (Argentia)?
A. You can start your trip on either side and return from the opposite. Keep in mind the ferry to Argentia is 15 hours - most start there to ensure the shorter ferry back at the end of the trip. Plus I feel the nicest scenery is on the West coast so it's nice to end the trip seeing the best the Island has to offer.

BUDGETING - FERRY
Q. How much will it cost to take the Marine Atlantic Ferry?
A. Complete Ferry schedule and pricing can be found on Marine Atlantic's website www.marine-atlantic.ca. Quick break down below: (prices as of March 2017).

North Sydney to Argentia (15 hrs)
$118.27 - 1 adult ticket 
$118.97 - ATV cost
$101.63 - Cabin per person double occupancy 
Total $338.87 (including tax) 

North Sydney to Port Aux Basques (6-7 hrs)
$43.46 - 1 adult ticket
$57.33 - ATV
$63.25 - Cabin per person per double occupancy
Total $173.53 (including tax)

$512.40 Grand Total - for both ferry rides and with two people to a room, assuming you get a room both ways, YOU SHOULD!

BUDGETING - PARKING
A. A&L Parking (902-561-0011) across the street from the ferry terminal. CASH ONLY. Pricing as of April 2016.

Truck & Trailer
$15 for the first day and $7.50 each day after that.
Would be $67.50 for 8 days.

Single vehicle without a trailer
$10 for the first day and $5.00 everyday after that.
$45 for 8 days

CASH ONLY. There is almost always room, just show up. If no one is there just leave your cash in an envelope in the booth drop box. Cash only! 


BUDGETING - ATV GASOLINE
How much gas will our ATVs use?
A. I took a Polaris Sportsman 500 loaded with camping gear.
Total spent - $141.71. Gas cost  $1.42 per litre at the time ($5.39 US Gallon)
Breakdown...
Total distance driven in 2013 - 858 kms (533 miles)
Total fuel used - 99.8 litres (20.4 gallons Cdn, 24 gallons US)
Average Mileage - 11.9 litres per 100 km (23 mpg Cdn, 19 mpg US)


***Gas is about $1.26 a liter as of March 2017*** ($4.78 US Gallon)

BUDGETING - HOTELS
Q. How much for motel/hotel rooms?
A. In 2013 we stayed at motels every night. It cost each of us $365.38 total for the week. We had two occupants per room each night. If you spend some or all of your nights camping you will obviously spend less.


BUDGETING - FOOD
Q.
How about the cost of food?
A. I paid $226.91 for food in 2013, that was all restaurant meals.
What you spend on food depends on your taste and budget. You can spend a lot if you eat at restaurants every day. It's relatively easy to find groceries and supplies if you want to cook for yourself. It's also a lot of fun to cook on the trail. 

BUDGETING - TOTAL COST
Q. Can you give me an approximate "total cost" for the entire trip?
A.  In 2013 I spent $1,400.00 total - that included ferry tickets, food, gas, liquor, hotels, parking, etc..Keep in mind we stayed at Motels each night and food costs were higher because we at restaurants every breakfast and supper. Other years I did it for around $1,000.00 by camping two nights and and cooking some meals on the trail. 

TAKING YOUR ATV ON THE FERRY 
Q. Can you ride an ATV directly on the ferry or do you have to haul it?
A. You can simply drive it on the ferry and leave your truck and trailer at A&L Parking which is across the street from the Ferry Terminal in NS. 


A&L parking (902-561-0011). They only take cash. Parking prices are listed above under Budget. 


TRAIL CONDITIONS & THE TRAIL GAP
Q.
What is the condition of the trail? 
A. Most of the trail is in good condition and is an easy ride for ATV or side by sides, even for most beginners. There are long sections with water ruts or 'whoops' which could get tiring if you have an older machine. In fact I don't recommend this trip without a newer machine with a good suspension system. There are also sections of trail lined with tall alder bushes that make it difficult to see around corners and that could be a bit dangerous so be sure to slow down on corners. 

Anyone with any experience won't have any issues - unless you are taking a trailer for extra gear. I don't suggest a trailer as it would slow you down especially in sections with whoops. Having said that, I know people that have taken trailers. Just make sure they are tough as nails and can handle the abuse of the whoops.  Most trailers I've heard of break on this trip. In 2015 I heard of a guy that brought a trailer and it popped off the hitch ball and when he stopped the trailer came forward and broke his rear differential. His trip was over. NOT GOOD.

Q.
I heard there is a GAP in the trail around Corner Brook. Is it difficult to get around?
A. One section is missing between Corner Brook and Pasadena. The most popular way around the gap is to hire a flat-deck tow truck to haul you and your ATV's to the next part of the trail. It'll cost you about $40 per person. I've heard some people ride the highway but that is dangerous and illegal.

Call Cecil Anderson (709) 686-5534. The Anderson's can take four ATV's or three ATV's and a side by side. Cecil has a pickup truck with a flat bed style trailer. He is very knowledgeable about the trail and helped me out of a jam with a single phone call. He's a very gracious fellow and also offers week long tours and day-tours at Newfoundland Outdoor Adventures

Conway’s Towing Service (709)634-2338. Call Conway's if you have more than four ATVs. They have multiple flat bed tow trucks that can fit a about a dozen or more ATV's.


FINDING THE TRAIL - ARGENTIA
Q. Can you drive your ATV directly from the ferry to the trail in Argentia?
A. Yes, it's only 2.5 km (1.5 miles) from the Argentia Terminal. Technically you are not supposed to drive an off road vehicle on the highway in Newfoundland but for these short distances you won't have a problem. I just drive in the center of the lane with traffic. ATV's are usually the first off the boat.


Directions:Drive straight down the highway when you get off the ferry and in only 400 metres (yards), you will see a road on your left, Charter Road (it comes up fast). Take Charter Road and take it for another 2 kilometres (1.5 miles). It runs parallel to the highway. If you miss Charter Road keep going down the highway, you can turn left in another 2 km at the trail. 

Charter Road is shown below splitting left off the highway.


Next, keep an eye out for the small white building on your left. Look for the trail about 100 feet after the building. Here is an aerial view (from Google Maps) below.

 
The section of trail you pick up after getting off the ferry isn't considered the T'Railway. It is an auxiliary trail that meets up with the main trail in Placentia Junction - which is approximately a 30 km ride (18 miles). It's an easy ride but can be slow going. 

***Don't miss the sign in the picture below when you get to Placentia Junction and take a left!!***Turn left or you will keep heading East to St. John's! Simply reset your trip meter on your ATV at the ferry or mark your mileage. When you hit the 30 km mark keep an eye out for this sign. It's easy enough to miss if you're not looking for it.


FINDING THE TRAIL - PORT AUX BASQUES
Q. 
Can you drive your ATV directly off the ferry to the trail in Port Aux Basque?
A. Yes you can. The trail is only 1.5 kilometres (or 1 mile) from the terminal. You can ride your ATV directly off the boat and go straight ahead until you see an Irving Gas Station on your left (below). Shortly after the station you will see a break in the road. Turn left over to the gas station side of the highway and head for the Orange Train. (shown in the far right of the image below) That is where the trail starts.  BE MINDFUL OF TRAFFIC, it can be a busy stretch of highway. Click on the image to make it larger.


Below is a map of the entire trail. It's a fantastic reference. 
Bookmark it in your browser on your smart phone when you go to NL so you can use it there. Click on the link above it to open a separate large window. If you zoom in close you can see where you can pick up the trail. 

Switch to Sat view when zoomed in and you can actually see the trail!
I also included places we stayed, ate, found gas etc.  





Thursday, October 27, 2016

Preparing Your ATV

This page goes hand in hand with my packing tips page.

Make sure you have your ATV serviced before you go. You'll put between 900km (560 miles) and 1250 km (780 miles) on your machine in a week and you'll put about 50+ hours on it. It's fairly easy riding but a break down in the middle of no where would seriously ruin your fun. I recommend the following:
  • Change your Oil and filter - If you haven't had an oil change in over a year or over 1000 km. Check your oil everyday during the trip as well to make sure you're not burning any. 
  • Check your air filter. If you have a replaceable paper type you might want to bring a spare with you. The dust on the trip can be off the charts depending on how dry it is. I've seen machines fail to start because the filter was plugged with dust and had to be shaken out. I suggest you even take a spare with you and change it mid week if there is a lot of dust. 
  • Grease - if you have grease fittings be sure to grease them well. You could run into quite a few water holes depending on the weather.
  • Tires - if they're old and cracked or extremely worn REPLACE THEM. That's a judgement call on your part. 
  • Brakes - make sure your brakes are in good condition. 
  • Belt - If you're driving a machine that's belt driven (pretty much everything but Hondas and the Yamaha YXZ) have the belt inspected. It's not hard riding so it's not hard on your belt but better to be safe than sorry.
You might want to consider some of the following as well:

  • Throttle extender - if you're like me and experience thumb pain after a day of riding you'll want one. Remember, you're doing seven days of riding about 8 hours a day or more. I bought a Kolpin throttle extender online from Royal Distributing for about $25.00. Worked like a charm.
  • Hand guards or Handlebar Mits - good for chilly days or rain depending on the time of year. A good set of weather proof gloves help too if you run into rain especially in September, it can be chilly.
  • ATV Windshield or UTV half windshield- I've done the trip with and without one and I find they are helpful in rain and cool weather. Some ATV windshields act as hand guards as well so that's a bonus. In summer the trail is dry and windshields get obstructed with dust which can be annoying if your shield is tall. A mid height or low windshield will be fine for an ATV. I have a UTV and use a half-windshield on this trip. A full windshield will get coated in dust in no time.
  • Winch & tow rope - you most likely won't need one but it could come in handy if you experience a breakdown or go off-trail or have to take a by-pass around a washout. If you are travelling with people that have winches you'll be fine.
  • Tool kit - if you don't take one, you'll need one - Murphy's Law. 
  • Air compressor - in case of a flat or slow leak, they happen no matter how new your tires may be or how many ply they are. I've done the trip several times without a flat and two times I had flats - fixed easily with plugs.
  • Tire patch kit - A MUST! Don't even think of doing the trip without plugs. Bring at least 30 plugs. One good size hole could required several plugs. If you have a UTV bring a spare wheel too just in case. 
  • Heated hand/thumb grips - They are pretty comfortable if you run into rain or cool weather. 
MURPHY's LAW - If you don't get your machine serviced, something might break. Why risk it? I always take my ATV to the dealer and have them check everything over before going. You never know what they may find, it's better to catch it before it's a problem.  

 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Packing Tips and What to Bring

If you plan on camping you'll need more storage for your gear. Don't let that intimidate you from enjoying a night under the stars near a beautiful lake. Just split the extra gear among the people with you. Besides, you may be surprised what you can tie onto your ATV racks with bungee cords. Check out Day 2 and Day 3 of my 2014 Trip for camping photos.
Packing Tips:
  1. A Trial Run - Pack everything a few weeks before you go to make sure you have enough room for the items you want to take.  
  2. Try not to over-pack clothing- you'll use less clothing than you think especially if you stay at a motel with a washer and dryer. (Trailblazer's has one in Badger and Pirate's Haven has one in Robinsons)
  3. Don't worry if you forget something, you can buy it on the trail - food, propane tanks, beverages and other items aren't difficult to find. There are gas stations and stores along the trail.
  4. Pack your storage boxes full so items don't bounce around. If you have extra space stuff a blanket in there to keep items tight.
Suggested Items:
A lot of items listed are camping related so if you're not camping you won't need that much. Look through the list and adjust it to your needs. Communicate with your friends and see who is already taking similar items that you can share - don't duplicate if you don't have to. 


General Items
  • Goggles and dust mask - Don't do this trip without either unless you have a full face helmet. The dust can be insane at times in the summer.
  • Make your own list  -  check items off the list as you pack. It's easy to forget things.
  • Air Compressor  - in case of a flat tire. Trust me, they happen. If you're in a group make sure there are at least 2 in case one breaks. I've seen it happen.
  • Tire Patch Kit  - flats happen  
  • First Aid Kit
  • Tool kit 
  • Spare Fuses
  • Gasoline - I suggest 5-10 litres per person. Fill up at every gas station you pass and you shouldn't need it. BUT take it anyway in case you happen to miss a station.
  • Cell phone - You'll get good signal strength in a lot of places.
  • Water proof bags & Cargo BagsMEC has quality waterproof dry bags and duffel bags for your clothes. I've used this  10 cubic foot waterproof bag a few times.
  • Ratchet Straps & bungee cords - you never know what you'll need to strap down
  • Pain Meds - Ibuprofen, Robaxacet, Voltaren etc. (a sore back or shoulders can ruin your day)
  • Camera/Video - batteries and 12v chargers to plug into your ATV while riding or plug in at motel rooms at night.
  • Duct Tape - "Don't leave home without it"
  • Mini fire extinguisher - at least one person in the group should have one.
  • GPS 
  • Pre-Arrange Transportation for the gap in the trail near Corner Brook.
    Cecil Anderson, Pasadena, (709)686-5534 or Conway’s Towing Service in Corner Brook (709)634-2338. You can't book Conway's in advance, just call the day you need them. I know this isn't exactly considered packing but it's important. Bring those two numbers with you.
  • Bug spray - generally the bugs aren't bad. BUT in some places they could be thick so take spray.
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Change of foot wear (boots for trailing, sneakers and water shoes in case you go swimming or just want to walk in the water to cool off on a hot day.) and sneakers for everything else)
Camping Items
  • Water and Food -  freeze meat and water before putting them in a cooler and they'll stay cold for days. Make sure you take water breaks or you might get dehydrated. Don't take more than a day's food because you can get more on the trail.
  • Storage - If you're camping you'll obviously need more storage space. I use a huge 10 cu ft waterproof cargo bag and created plywood inner walls to keep the bag from sagging. I use ratchet straps to secure it to the rear rack. Works fantastic! You can see it in the video below.
    Here is the bag I use from Tow Ready
    Here are smaller similar bags if you don't need that much storage.  
  • Cooler - I've seen people use hard coolers for general storage as well as food. I use a soft sided cooler and keep it my home-made storage box.
  • Fire Items - lighter, waterproof matches, old newspaper, lighter fluid and fire sticks (for campfires)
  • Portable BBQ or gas stove - only take a few fuel tanks as you can buy more on the trail. 
  • Camping Supplies - Tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, pillow etc. if you plan on camping. 
  • Silicone water proof spray works great for your tent, rain fly, and clothing. Wal Mart has it for about $12.00 a can. Spray your tent before you go!
  • Lights - Flash Lights, lanterns and batteries.
  • Dishes - Camping Plates, cutlery, pan, camp kettle etc.
  • Water Proof gear - boots, gloves, pants and jacket. If you happen to hit rain you could get cold if you aren't dressed properly. You might hit sun and rain within the same morning/afternoon so make sure a clothing change is within easy reach.
  • Garbage bags - whatever you take in be sure to take out with you! Let's help keep it beautiful there.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

2016 pics Argentia - Port Aux Basques

This year we went from Argentia to Port Aux Basques like other years, BUT, we added some new places in between that we hadn't done before. We usually drive about 900 km but this year we did 1250 km. It was a fantastic time as always. 

Our trip usually goes like this: 

Argentia to Clarenville, Clarenville to Gander, Gander to Badger
Badger to Deer Lake (or Howley), Deer lake to Serpentine Lake, Serpentine Lake to Robinson's, Robinson's to Port Aux Basques. 

This year it went like this:
Argentia to Clarenville
(same as usual)

Clarenville to Gander
(same as usual with a big detour in Terra Nova due to a bridge being out)

Gander to Badger
(A different route this year including a long side trip that took us to a plane crash site from the 1940's. Most of the plane is still there)

Badger to Lomond(Badger to Deer Lake was the same and then we went to Lomond. It's about another 50 km North of Deer Lake just outside Gros Morne National Park. That part was all new for us. We arrived in Lomond just after dark)
Lomond to Corner Brook (This was completely new. We stopped in Burchie-Head, Woody Point, & Cox's Cove. It was a long day and we got to Corner Brook shortly after dark)
Corner Brook to Robinson's 
(We drove through some trails that took us mostly through Corner Brook without having to ride on many roads so we didn't have to be trucked on a flat bed. One trail was kind of a goat trail but we all made it through with no issues, even the side by side)

Robinson's to Port Aux Basques
(Same as usual except we stopped at Codroy Pond)

2016 Newfoundland ATV Trip
Day 1 - Ferry Day

Road Trip. We are scattered around the province but the farthest had to drive from Bridgewater to the Marine Atlantic Ferry Terminal in North Sydney.





packing up the night before
Attaching "Moosey" to the front bar

Loading up the machines and getting ready to drive to the ferry
The Magnificent Seven!

I was enjoying being a passenger this year.
I wonder how many people have taken a picture of this
fried chicken joint!
There's the ferry!
We leave our trucks behind, across the street from the Ferry Terminal
Don't offload from a trailer when the ground is not level.
[No machines or riders were harmed during the making of this trip]
Waiting in the parking lot to board the boat!

Loaded onto the boat and ready for the 16 hour ferry ride!







Day 2 - Argentia to Clarenville
140ish km
This day was the same as all the other years with one exception - we had a break down before we even started. Howie's Rincon wouldn't start. Unfortunately we couldn't get it started and Howie had to hire a flatbed tow truck to tow it to Simmons Honda in Gander. Howie rode with me in the side by side for the first two days until we could pick up his machine. It was an unexpected added expense for Howie but luckily he could still ride with me and and not miss any of the trip. This put us about 1.5 - 2 hours behind schedule but we still arrived in Clarenville at around 6 p.m. We just took a few less rest stops and drove a little faster.


Howie was working hard trying to get the Rincon going
Trail side rest stop


I guess I didn't attach Moosey very well.
Once he got wet he wouldn't stay up. Pretty sad looking unit.
Parked outside our rooms at St. Jude's Hotel
Dinner at the restaurant attached to St. Jude's Hotel



Day 3 - Clarenville to Gander
about 160km total driving
Normally about 143 but due to a detour we had to take around the Terra Nova bridge that's out it was about 160 km. The detour was no big deal and the trails around it were actually kind of fun. We had to do run a secondary highway for about 10 km and it was no problem as there was almost no traffic. Then we had to run about 20 km on dirt trails which was easy and then finally about another 6 km on the shoulder of the Provincial Highway. Luckily the traffic was not heavy. We just stayed to the should and drove about 60 kmh and had no problems.






This is in Terra Nova National Park. It's a beautiful spot
near a nice waterfall.








We stopped at the T'Railway Lounge in Gambo for a drink.
There is a memorial site from a plane crash just outside
Gander from 1967 right on the trail. Read more about it below.
We stopped at Rosie's Restaurant in Gander for supper. It's right off
the trail and the dinner was great as always. I ordered the turkey, which
came with a lot of other things including salt beef, as you can see.




Day 4 - Gander to Badger
about 205 km total driving. Trailblazers efficiency units was our destination in Badger.
Usually this about 140 km of riding but this year we did something different. We headed about 55 km inland (South) to a plane crash wreckage from the 1940's. It was very interesting to see and I would recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it before. Some of the trails were narrow and grown in with brush but it was easy enough to get through especially since we had a GPS track to follow. When we left the wreckage we didn't head back to the T'Railway. We took a logging road West towards GrandFalls-Windsor then continued on along the railbed towards Badger. Here's a link to a website with information about the crash site
http://www.hiddennewfoundland.ca/sabena-airliner-crash.


We stayed at the Comfort Inn in Gander. It was a nice spot. There
was a gas station next to it that we were able to fill up at before
heading back to the trail. 

We stopped at Wal Mart for some BBQ food before hitting the trail.
We had to cross a rather large river to get to the plane crash site.
It wasn't too deep luckily. There is another road you can take with a bridge.

This is part of the goat path we took up to the plane crash site. You don't
have to take it if you don't want. Just leave your machine on the main trail
and walk up the rest of the way - about 400 meters.















After we left and got to a wider section of trail we stopped for a BBQ.


On our way to Grand Falls-Windsor we took an old trail that was completely
overgrown with alder brush. It was tough and slow going to find our way for a few kilometres.
The sun was low in the sky and the trail was very dusty here. It was difficult to
see sometimes. I rode with one hand on the wheel and one hand blocking the sun.
This is where we stayed for the night. It's deceiving on the outside. It doesn't
look like an efficiency unit but the place is great! Six rooms - three bathrooms,
large living room and full kitchen, patio, and BBQ. Best of all it's right on the trail!
After arriving in Badger we stopped at Badger Diner for their
fish and chips. I can't recommend their fish and chips anymore as four guys 

in our group got sick after eating there on our 2017 trip.





Day 5 - Badger to Lomond
200ish km total driving this day
The section we traveled from Badger to Deer Lake was the same as other years. This time we added another 45-50 km to head up to Lomond Lodge. We had to ride about 5 km on the shoulder of town roads in Deer Lake to get to the trail head then the trail was in good enough shape to ride about 50 km/h so it didn't take too long to get there. It was still just after dark when we got there though. 






We stopped at a granite quarry which is located between Mary March
Bridge and the Gaff.
Why do people spray paint their names on things?
Hey Ron, Marty, Olivia, John & Melissa - nobody cares you were there! 

Thanks for messing the place up with your graffiti. 



The top of the Gaff, about 1500 ft. It was REALLY windy up there
this year. More so than normal.



We stopped in Howley for a BBQ break.



  

We cooked up some moose meat and vegetables that Dave from
Trailblazers gave us. It was great!





Other years we stop and camp here in Howley. This year we drove another
70+ km to get to Lomond!

The Lomond Sinkhole is quite something to see. The water runs from a
river and empties into a hole at the bottom. It just disappears into the ground.
The pictures don't do it justice. We could go into the sinkhole as it was getting dark by the time
we got there. So we went on to Lomond Lodge and returned to the Sinkhole the next morning.


John was cutting up and cooking the onions.



The Lomond Lodge buildings. We didn't even get to see them when we arrived
because it was dark when we first arrived.






Day 6 - Lomond to Corner Brook
about 185 km total driving.

We left Lomond, visited the sinkhole, and then drove North to Woody Point. Then we went to Cox's Cove and then onto Corner Brook. The trails all through here were fantastic, more like gravel roads. We saw many unlucky moose that were taken by hunters that day. We had to drive about 5 km on the shoulder of the highway when we came into Corner Brook via Hughe's Brook. See the map below.


We went down into the Sinkhole. It was very steep,
the photos don't really give you the proper perspective of how steep it is.












Although the weather was overcast the temperature was nice and there
wasn't much dust on the trail at all.
We stopped at a Can Am Dealer in Woody Point. No one bought a new machine!


The Best Western - about 8 km south of Woody Point
The first flat of 3 flats this trip. There were 3 flats total this trip, and John
had them all, both on his rear tires.


Getting gas in Cox's Cove
Cox's Cove


We weren't far from Corner Brook here.

None of us took a photo of the Motel, so I took this from Google Maps Street View.
We came from the Mountain in the background and drove across that bridge
you can see the grey Honda driving across. There is a corner store and gas
station directly across the street, which is convenient. We ordered pizza for supper
that night from Greco.



Day 7 - Corner Brook to Robinson's
about 180 kms traveled this day total
We left the Motel & filled up with gas at the corner store directly across the street and got a coffee there as well. We didn't drive around town to go a restaurant as Corner Brook doesn't appear to be a very ATV friendly town like most other towns in NL seem to be. There is a trail almost across the street from the gas station shown by the orange line below. Click on the image to see a larger photo. Better  yet look at the actual map on this link and zoom in as much as you want. We took the orange line but probably should have taken the light blue line in one spot. The orange trail was very rough in a few spots and I don't suggest you take it if you're a beginner. I would suggest getting trucked by Cecil Anderson, 709- 686- 5534, instead from your motel to the start of Logger School Road. We also had to drive along the shoulder of the highway for a bit but probably no more than 1 km total before getting to the red trail shown in the photo which takes you to the T'Railway. Most of that trail is in good condition. The last few km is rough but passable, just take your time.


Part of the goat trail around Corner Brook

This is Serpentine Lake. Sometimes we camp here. This year we stayed
at Motels and cabins each night. We had to stop by here anyway just because the
lake and surrounding scenery is so beautiful.
 


The lake water was very high this day. We usually camp in the section that is under
water in the background near the tree line. 




A pub we stopped at in Gallants for a half hour or so.






Our cabin at Pirate's Haven Campground. We love these cabins and their hot tub.
We stay here every year. They have 3 cabins and each one has a full
kitchen, 2 bedrooms with queen beds, patio's with BBQ's. One of the cabins has
as washer and dryer as well. There is also a campground here if you would like to
stay in tents instead of the cabins.
The pub at Pirate's Haven




Day 8 - Robinson's to Port Aux Basques
about 105 km without any side trips.
This isn't a long day of traveling. We took our time and didn't leave until about 11 a.m. We stopped at the Sugarloaf Mountains for quite a while and then at a beach not far from the ferry terminal on our way back. 

We stopped for gas first thing before we left. This gas station is just down
the road from Pirate's Haven. Across the street from the station is a beautiful
bluff we stopped at to take some pictures - seen below.


We met a great group of guys from Ontario that crossed the island the same
week we did. We ran into them several times. This was one of the bikes one of them used.
I believe it was a 1984 Honda 250 4x2 with a solid rear axle. That guy earns my respect
driving almost 1000 km on that machine!







Stopping for a BBQ at Codroy Pond



Cape Ray, not far from Port Aux Basques

The top of Sugarloaf mountain, part of the Table Top Mountains. That's the
Provincial Highway running between the mountains.







  
















Waiting to get our machines sprayed off before getting on the ferry. Some vehicles
like ATV's get rinsed so you don't accidentally bring back some type of bug
to the mainland that may affect agriculture.



Day 9 - Ferry Day to Nova Scotia and Road Trip Home
The ferry from Port Aux Basques to North Sydney is about 6 hours and we generally arrive back in NS about 7:30 a.m.
The Nova Scotia crew (minus Bob who took the photo) and the
Ontario crew. I thought we had a long ride home but the Ontario guys had about
an 18 hour ride.