The Tracy Hill Trail, Red Bay, NFLD


If I have learned anything on this trip, it is that Newfoundlanders love look-offs and will put forth a herculean effort to give the public access to them, as I experienced with the dare-devil trail in St Anthony. This trail is another example.

It is 1:00 pm, another perfect afternoon, with a temperature of 16 Celsius, no wind and a clear blue sky. I should be able to see for miles in any direction from the top. As I make my way to the trail, the blackflies are looping circles around my head, in spite of a generous dousing of bug spray. I swat at them, turning with a shake, I flee at a brisk pace, out-maneuvering the pests. Soon I settle into an easy stroll taking in the sweet smell of the evergreen sap.

Tracy Hill trail head.

It starts easy enough – flat and accessible, flanked with Tuckamore and a bit of a swampy area. Other than croaking frogs and a few tweets from chickadees, I have the place to myself. The treed section of the trail ends with a pretty view out to the bay and I stop at the interpretive plaque for a bit of history. The island in front of me is called Penney Island. It was owned by William H Penney, an entrepreneur originally from Carbonear, who set up a mercantile business on the island in the 1840s to supply fisherman with food and equipment. He and his family were the first permanent settlers in Red Bay.

The boardwalk turns and heads for the first set of stairs to a landing slightly elevated from the main boardwalk. On the riser are the words “Hike More, Worry less” painted in orange. A smile creases my face and I instantly love the person who wrote it. My kind of motivator.

I get a feeling that the person who designed this boardwalk was thinking it would make a great workout and, smartly, starts it with a built in warm-up phase. I find the length of my stride gives me three steps on the flat then a stair. I carry on this pattern of three steps and a stair until it shortens to two steps and stair. Within seven minutes I start to break into a sweat. There is a little respite with a couple of downward steps, them another flat section. Ah here we go. The workout phase begins with a steady stair climb for about ten minutes.

Just before I face another change in direction and intensity, the orange painted words appear; “Determination today leads to success tomorrow.” “Why thank you very much,” I think to myself as I keep stepping lively towards the top.

From this point Tracy Hill looks like a round-topped mound and the end seems in sight. I hear the words in my mind saying, “Not so bad. I got this.” There is another the downward area to a flat section, I stop and take some pictures, have some water and catch my breath.

1/3 of the way up.

I turn and keep going one step at a time, stopping every few minutes to take in the view while trying to keep my heart rate up. Just when I think I have almost made it to the top, I find myself on a false bluff looking at another long wooden set of stairs in front of me. Not fair. Where is the motivational quote? I am determined to make it to the top. I dig in and I can see the new target -a landing with a look off.

Knowing how this trail is set up, I don’t believe this landing in front of me is the end either and I am correct. It is just a place to rest and look out at the Strait of Belle Isle while you contemplate the next motivational quote: “There is no time to be bored in a world as beautiful as this.” I trudge on to the next fake ending. The next quote has a bit of cheekiness to it: “The best views come after the hardest climb.” “Really? I say aloud, with a bit of sarcasm for the words of wisdom in front of me.

There is an upper and a lower look-off platform. Both have coin-operated viewing binoculars. I carry on to the higher of the two, with intent of doing the lower one on the way back down. The final words are on the steps just before the top landing; “The reward is worth the effort” and I can’t agree more. The rocky barrens and the sun glinting off the sea are impressive and made every bit more satisfying by having to work hard for it.

Believing, I had gotten the views I came for, I step off the boardwalk in the direction of a pond about 400 meters away. There is a signboard telling the story of villagers that came to drain the pond and claim the treasure reportedly buried by Captain William Kid. However, when a thunderstorm struck, their superstitious minds thought it was a return of the the guardian of the treasure; a headless man. There quest to unbury the treasure quickly abated and the pond has been left untouched to this day.

Returned to the stairs to make my way down, I have one more side hike to do. It is called The Boney Shore walking trail. It will take me to the water’s edge. A sign tells me the site is where Basque whalers discarded bones of Right and Bowhead whales in the 16th century. The whales were caught mainly for their oil. There is a warning that it is illegal to take bone from the beach but it seems that hasn’t deterred people from taking souvenirs. I looked around for a few minutes but I didn’t find any bones, just a large patch of Labrador tea. If I am honest with myself, I find the whole topic of whale hunting distasteful so I was glad not too find any.

Tracy Hill Trail is 1.6 km each way, plus the pond and the Boney Shore trail equaled a 4kms hike. My activity tracker also displayed an unimpressive 164 meters of elevation gain. Garmin be damned: I got a good sweat on. The trail is free and interesting for history buffs and pirate enthusiasts.

Please join me again as I visit the Red Bay UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Historic Site.


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25 thoughts on “The Tracy Hill Trail, Red Bay, NFLD

Add yours

    1. It was a workout. There was lots of areas to pause. I always tried to get my heart pumping, because it was a three week vacation and, I needed to keep my fitness up for work.
      You could do it. 👍

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ll know where to come when I fancy a workout, Kelly! Seriously, it’s no great distance but I can feel my legs aching just sitting here looking. I do like the little snippets of encouragement though, and the views.


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