Monday, October 31, 2016

What is the Newfoundland T'Railway?

Check out my new website - www.crossingnewfoundlandbyatv.com. It has all the same information as this blog plus some new tips and a new look. You can still use this blog if you like as I will leave it up.

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

Step by Step Quick Guide


Check out my new website - www.crossingnewfoundlandbyatv.com.

So you want to cross Newfoundland by ATV and you don't want to hire a tour guide. You've come to the right place. I've put together a step by step quick guide for you to follow for the Argentia to Port Aux Basques run.

Argentia to Port Aux Basques - Six days of riding & staying at Motels 
Total cost is about $1,500 for everything - tickets, food, alcohol, motels, gas etc. That price is for one person splitting accommodations with another person along the way.


Step 1 - Pick the time of year and the friends you want to bring along. I suggest July 1 to September 15 for optimum weather. The bugs aren't bad in July believe it or not and there seems to be less people on the trail then. 

Step 2 - Book your ferry tickets online with Marine Atlantic several months in advance. I typically have my ferry tickets and hotel rooms booked by February. Get a room on the ferry for sleeping, trust me, especially the Argentia Ferry. No more than two adults to a room otherwise they are too crowded. You could put three in a room in a pinch but definitely not 4 grown men. You'll have no space left.
The ferry crossing is probably the single most expensive part of your trip at about $512.00 per adult. That includes the cost of your ticket, your ATV, and bunk rooms both ways. You can save money by not booking rooms, but I highly advise against that. You won't get a good night sleep and you don't want to start the trip sore and tired.

  • The Nova Scotia to Argentia ferry leaves every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday at 17:30. Be there about three hours early. You'll need time to unload your ATV's and then you'll have to park your cars across the street and go back to the terminal. 
  • The Port Aux Basques to  Nova Scotia Ferry leaves NS every day at 11:45 a.m. and 23:45 and 06:30 on Wednesday only between late June and September. Check their website in case times change. 
Step 3 - Book your Motels. I suggest the following: (click each link for their websites)
Each of the above motels is easy to find. Trailblazer's, and the Driftwood Inn are visible from the trail. The other's have marked trails to the motels and are only a short distance from the main trail with the exception of the Comfort Inn in Gander. You need to ride through town to get to it but it is an ATV friendly town. The police won't bother you if you ride responsibly.

Step 4 - Detailed planning. Read my Planning your Newfoundland ATV Trip page for all details you need to know - like where do you park your truck before taking your ATV on the Ferry, where does the trail actually start when we get off the ferry, GPS tracks etc. Read and print my Daily Details page if you are heading from Argentia to Port Aux Basque. It tells you things you need to know each day of that trip.

Step 5 - Review my packing tips page for ideas on what you need to bring. The list is big but you can adjust it for your own needs. You won't need much if you're staying at motels and you'll need more if you want to do some camping. Be sure to bring a tire patch kit (plugs) and an air compressor and goggles to protect your eyes from dust if you have an open helmet. A dust mask is important if you have an open helmet.

If you don't find everything you're looking for feel free to email me at patrickryan57@hotmail.com and I'll answer your questions. It's no problem, I do it all the time. 


Don't forget to take a look at the pictures from the 2013 trip as it was this exact route. You'll be able to see what the trail looks like with pictures and videos.

Have FUN!

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 Driftwood 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 (Comfort Inn)
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 (Driftwood 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?


Check out my new website - www.crossingnewfoundlandbyatv.com.

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

Check out my new website - www.crossingnewfoundlandbyatv.com.

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

Check out my new website - www.crossingnewfoundlandbyatv.com.

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

2017 Pics - Argentia to Port Aux Basques


Check out my new website - www.crossingnewfoundlandbyatv.com.

This year's trip was another variation of our Argentia to Port Aux Basques run and it was fantastic! We rode about 1200 km in 7 awesome days. We had 12 people this year, which is the most we've ever had. Everyone had a great time and the there were no issues aside from a few flat tires.

This year's trip went like this:
Argentia to Clarenville, Clarenville to Gander, Gander to Badger, Badger to Deer Lake, Deer Lake to Corner Brook, Corner Brook to Robinsons, and Robinsons to Port Aux Basques.

2017 Newfoundland ATV Trip
Day 1 - Nova Scotia to Argentia
A road trip to the terminal and then a 16 hour boat ride to NL!




My neighbor and me getting ready to drive to the ferry terminal.



A pit stop at Boston Pizza in Antigonish


Following behind John, Terrance and Dan through Cape Breton

The Ferry is visible in the background as we approach the terminal

A picture of all the machines before heading to the terminal to check-in

While waiting in line to get on the boat I ran into the Paul and Ruth
from Pirate's Haven! Small world.
We had 2 Can Am Comanders, 2 CF Moto ZForce 500's, 1 Can Am Outlander 650,
1 Can Am Outlander 1000 Max, 2 Kawasaki Teryx 4, a Honda Rincon 680, a Honda Foreman 500, and a Suzuki King Quad 750!


 
Having a drink in our room after check-in


Exploring the boat

Day 2 - Argentia to Clarenville
First day on the trail. It was foggy, sunny, then foggy, then sunny.
Half of us stayed at St. Jude's Hotel and the others camped at Shoal Harbour Pond. Its about about another 20km past St. Jude's or so.

Total time including stops 8 hours 54 minutes
Distance 175 km to shoal harbour pond. It's about 142 km to St. Jude's.
Average speed 36 km/h, top speed 78 km/h

We stopped shortly after getting off the boat to get our gear organized.


A group of people we met that came all the way from Ontario to do the trip!
Diane Bailey and friends.





Pit stop at Placentia Junction. Time for water and snacks.


I was packed tight - iPad GPS, Go Pro, clothing on the passenger seat.


We can't resist gravel pits!

BBQ time. The weather kept changing from sunny to foggy.

















Gas at the Ultramar in Goobies.

The trail to Shoal Harbour Pond. Just look at what the Hotel Guys missed out on.

I was part of the group that camped at Shoal Harbour Pond outside Clarenville.
What a beautiful spot, and a fun ride in.








BBQ sausage, hamburgers, and hot dogs - camping grub.

We had a great fire and temperature was comfortable even though it was the first week of Sept. Three of us even went into the lake to clean up.


Day 3 - Clarenville to Gander
It was an early morning for the campers. We didn't bother to cook breakfast and opted to pick something up along the trail later. 
It was only around 140 km to ride and we made several stops to talk, drink water, bathroom breaks etc.

We got stuck behind a group of much slower vehicles for about half an hour, it was almost painful. They were going as slow at 15 km/h in some places. We were glad when they finally pulled over to go to a warming hut and we could scoot by them. We stopped at the Trailway Lounge in Gander and had a drink and take a break from the trail. 

When we arrived in Gander we stayed at the Comfort Inn. I think the first thing everyone did was to take a shower and wash off the trail dust. We had supper at the Jungle Jim's Restaurant that's attached to the motel, the food was good. Quadapalooza started that night and it's a weekend event in Gander. Some of us took in some of the events and some of us were beat and went to bed early. 

Total time including stops 8 hrs 21 minutes
Total distance 140 km
Average speed 38 km/h
Top speed 80 km/h



The wind picked up and distorted my tent a bit!
Bruce's first flat of the trip - there would be many more.






Gas at Port Blandford

Terra Nova Waterfall





Another flat for Bruce

Pit stop in Gambo for a drink

A plane crash memorial site just outside Gander


The widened out the trail at the memorial site to make it easier to park machines.
We finally made it to the Comfort Inn

Hmmmm what to have at Jungle Jim's?




Day 4 - Gander to Badger
We left Gander early and headed toward the Sabena plane crash site. It's quite something to see the old plane from 1946 in the middle of the woods like that and the shell is still in quite good shape because of the aluminum. We stopped at a river crossing and had a drink and a snack before getting to the Plane. 

We spent about an hour at the plane site and then continued on towards Grand Falls to get gas. The roads from the plane site to Gander are in fantastic shape as they are mostly new roads for power lines. We were travelling at a fast pace through that section and covered a lot of distance in a short time. We probably averaged 60+km/h and more in a few places through those roads. It was good that we could travel faster through there because we had a long way to go that day.

We had to ride a few kms on paved roads when we got to Grand Falls until we got to the gas station. We went about 50 km/h and stayed together. The trail goes right by the gas station.

If you follow the rail bed from Gander to Badger it's about 145 km. Since we made an excursion to the plane that added about another 55 km for us. Some of us spent the night and Trailblazers and some of us spent the night at Badger Motel.

Total time including stops 10 hrs 34 minutes
Total Distance 200.45 km
Average speed 41 km/h
Top Speed 105 km/h


Getting ready to leave the Comfort Inn. It was a wee bit foggy when we left!



Ernerst's turn to get a flat


Time for a pit stop since we were making great time.



That river wasn't deep and it was easy to cross.


St. Martin's in the woods (the Sabena Plane Crash site from 1946)




The son of one of the victims came here 26 years later to see the crash site

The victims had to be buried at the site. 
It was far too difficult during that time to get them out.

The parking area at the bottom was quite full that day!

Almost to Badger







Howie - think this will do?
Bill - should do the trick...

Everyone's all smiles before eating fish and chips - later that evening - not so much.
We won't be eating there again.


Chillin at TRAILBLAZERS



Day 5 - Badger to Deer Lake
We made breakfast for ourselves at Trailblazers, well except Paul, he ate at Robin's Donuts. We stopped to patch a few flat tires, slammed on the brakes to avoid a few rabbits and birds that decided to walk on the trail instead of fly over it, we visited the granite quarry and had lunch at the Gaff Topsail. I never get tired from the view up there. This year was the calmest I ever saw it there. There was absolutely no wind at all - I couldn't believe it. 

Then we continued on to Howley, where half of us stopped and camped on the beach for the night. It was a short day and we got in early so we had time to BBQ supper for everyone before half of us drove to the Driftwood Inn in Deer Lake. Duane hit a rock while he was playing around in a mud hole and bent his tie rod. Luckily mechanic John took it off, straightened it like new and put it back on in about 30 minutes. We were able to take in the sunset before Duane broke out the fire works.  Another great day!

Total time including stops 6 hrs 53 minutes
Total Distance 105 km (about 130 for the guys that went to Deer Lake)
Average Speed 41 km/h
Top Speed 65 km/h
Max elevation 546 m



Another flat for Bruce, all on the same tire. This time a sidewall puncture.
You can see all three patches so far in this photo.

A few photos at the Granite Quarry


The granite quarry was a great spot for photos but people with
cans of spray paint ruined it. I removed most of it in this picture with
Photoshop.


The top of the Gaff Topsail - about 1900 feet at the peak.













The beach at Howley where some of us spent the night in tents. We love this spot.




Moose meat that a wonderful woman in Badger gave us! It was fantastic on the BBQ!
John and Dan can cook!
 
Moose sausage!
Paul and Joey grab some firewood!

We had a great fire

The weather was perfect for camping!

It cooled down quickly when the sun went down. The fire kept us warm and
luckily I have a warm sleeping bag.



 


Day 6- Deer Lake to Corner Brook
Those of us that were camping left the beach a bit early and met up with the rest of the crew in Deer Lake. We stopped at an Irving Big Stop for a huge breakfast then traveled together north to the Lomond Sinkhole. The sinkhole is an amazing site to behold. Photos just don't do it justice at all. You can never capture the size of it in a photo. Many of us went down into the hole and you have to use ropes to get down and even then it's quite slippery. 

After that we went south to Cloudy Pond to cook up some food, then to Old Man's Pond for a few more photos, then Cox's Cove for gas and pictures, and finally we stopped at Marblewood Village for the night in Corner Brook. We splurged and rented luxury condos where we each had our own rooms - no one was kept up by the snorers that night. Another great day with lots of great scenery and great company! This was long day.

Total Time including stops 11hrs 49 minutes
Total Distance 214 km (about 190 for the guys that started in Deer Lake)
Average Speed 36 km/h
Top Speed 80 km/h
Max elevation 472 m



5:30 a.m. before the sun came out. The campers had to get up early to meet
the guys in Deer Lake for 8 a.m. We had to pack our gear up and
drive about an hour to Deer Lake.
Deer Lake Dam




The Driftwood Inn - a cozy spot with a Jungle Jim's Restaurant attached.

This is the parking lot of the Irving Big Stop we had breakfast at.

Dan reads about the Lomond Sink Hole.

John ponders going down to the bottom


There are people in the lower right section in the cave. Take a look
at them to get an idea of how big the waterfall is.


After the waterfall we stopped at a mountain peak with a cell tower.
The view was fantastic. Pictures don't do it justice.












We stopped at Cloudy Pond for a break, and cooked up some more moose meat.





This picture was taken in 2003 from the same place as the one above taken in 2017.
The trees grew up so much in the last 14 years you can barely see the pond from the road anymore.
We drove to the edge of Old Man's Pond for a few more photos
(like we didn't already have enough)

All 11 machines


We stopped at Cox's Cove for gas and a few photos of course.


Apparently this used to be a make-out point back in the day

On our way to Corner Brook. That's Marble Mountain in the background.

As we got closer you could see the trails on the ski hill in the back


Bruce needed to top us his tire - we are not far now from Marblewood Village.

I added a tonneau cover and spare wheel carrier this year. I loved both.

We had to drive a few km of paved roads to get to Marblewood Village.
Luckily it was a secondary road.

The view of our condo. I wish we spent two night there so I could have more time
to relax and enjoy this place.


Day 7- Corner Brook to Robinsons
There is a big section of trail missing around Corner Brook. If you're riding the rail bed from Deer Lake to Corner Brook you have to be trailered. We went north of Deer Lake and took mountain roads to Corner Brook but we come out on the East Side and instead of getting trucked to the other side of town we took a snowmobile trail as a by-pass route. It worked fine. It was a little muddy in a few spots due to heavy rain a few days before but we all made it through okay. It made for some interesting video though watching the guys sling the mud and skeg. 

Full rain gear needed today as it rained all day. After a few hours on the trail we stopped in Gallants for a drink and a break from the rain. Then we stopped and got gas in Stephenville Crossing. We came upon a steep sandy embankment and some of us took turns climbing it while the others watched. It was good fun. 

Half of us stayed at Pirate's Haven and half of us stayed at Cliffside Cottages just up the road. We had a good supper at the Pirate's Haven Restaurant and a good breakfast too. You gotta love their cottages - they have everything you need - even a washer and dryer and a hot tub. The owners, Paul and Ruth, are the kind of people that go the extra mile and they are great ambassadors for ATVing.

Total Time including stops 9 hours 4 minutes
Total Distance 145.2 km
Average Speed 32 km/h
Max Speed 92 km/h
Max elevation 349 m
The beginning of the snowmobile trail by-pass route
Duane blasts through the mud with his 1000 XTP

Bill shreds the mud with the King Quad

John has no problem getting through the mud

Howie charges through with the Rincon

Exterior picture of the pub in Gallants. I used a picture from last year
as no one took one this year.




Some sand dunes around Stephenville Crossing



A huge sand pit we decided to try this year. Other years past we didn't bother.
It's steeper than it looks in pictures.

Me almost to the top.









Pirate's Haven Cabins
Pirate's Haven Pub for supper.


Day 8 - Robinson to Port Aux Basques
This is usually our shortest day so we didn't hit the trail until about 10:45 and arrived in PAB around 8:30. It's pitch black at that time in September. If you follow the rail bed directly from Robinson to PAB it's about 110 km. This year I found two new places for us to check out on our way to Port Aux Basques and we ended up doing another 50 km. It was totally worth it. We did get in a bit later than we thought though and there was a third place we didn't get to because we ran out of time. Next year we'll be on the trail about 8 a.m. to get it all in. 

The extra places were both up in the mountains and they were quite a trek up but it was completely worth it. We BBQ'd food at the top of the first mountain, took a ton of photos at the second mountain and stopped at Sugar Loaf Mountain like we usually do and got to JT Cheeseman Park just after sunset and pulled into PAB after dark. It would have been nice to hit Cheeseman Park about an hour earlier to catch the sunset over the sand dunes and the ocean. Oh well, we saw it last year so check out 2016 pictures if you'd like to see that beach at sunset.

We stopped at Mary Brown's in PAB around 8:30 and everyone was hungry. The ferry is only a few minutes drive from there. We checked in went to bed.

Total time approx 11 hrs
Total Distance 152 km
Average speed 29 km/h
Max speed 78 km/h
Max elevation 473 m


Getting ready to leave Pirate's Haven

The bluffs at Robinson's Head






Someone used an excavator to ruin the road into Codroy Pond

Luckily someone made a by-pass route into the Pond


The first new spot we went to up in the mountains.


More trail cooking!

Good thing Paul brought a spare wheel and tire





The second new mountain we went to









Stopped in Doyle's for some guys to get gas


Not far from Port Aux Basques







Day 9 - Road trip back home
The boat arrived about 7 a.m. so we were on the road pretty early, which is nice because some of the guys had a long drive ahead of them. The weather was sunny and clear which was a bonus.


Getting packed up to get off the boat

One last picture before putting the bike on the trailer.