When to walk?
We decided to start our hike beginning of June, and are glad we didn’t start sooner, because two weeks before we set off, Central Newfoundland had more than 30 cm (12 inches) of snowfall. Check the website of the Weather Network for historical weather patterns and averages, so you’ll have an idea of what to expect in the months you’ll be walking.
Another site to check would be the website of the Canada Weather Office, where you’ll find weekly extended forecasts.
In which direction?
Apart from when to walk, you have to decide if you’re starting out in St. John’s or in Port aux Basques. We’re walking the T’Railway from East to West, the only reason being that we booked a flight to St. John’s. So this makes St. John’s the most obvious place to start for us. But this also means we have to face a headwind more often, and that can be a bit unpleasant, especially if the wind is strong.
However, after a while we were glad we were walking the way we did, because we think the trail is becoming more scenic with every day that passes. If, however, you’re travelling to Newfoundland by ferry from North Sydney, Nova Scotia, you’d probably want to start out in Port aux Basques.
The best place to start your detailed trip planning for the T’Railway is by visiting the website of the Newfoundland T’Railway Council. We have been back to this website a thousand times before we left. A very handy tool they provide is the trail kilometer guide. It gives you a fair idea of the distances between the different stages of the walk.
However, if you want to know the exact distance between two points, you’re better off on the website of the TransCanada Trail. Their interactive map allows you to indicate two points on the map and in no time it’ll give you the exact distance between those two. The site also allows you to print your maps as pdf’s and create an elevation profile (for the trail as a whole or sections of it).
You don’t really need a good map to be able to find your way on the T’Railway, because it is difficult to get lost on a railway track. However, you’ll need a map to find out if there are any streams where you can get water from, and to find the best way to get to accommodation (if you’re not wild camping). We used the Open Cycle map on our phones (as the T’Railway is indicated on those maps). The software we’re using it in combination with is ViewRanger. Another app we installed on our phones was Maps.me. Be careful though with Maps.me, as we found sometimes that the location of hotels wasn’t very accurate – in one case it was almost 1.5 km off!
Some accommodation planning is essential before you set off on the trail. Especially if you’re walking – you simply cannot walk another 25 km if there is no accommodation available. That’s why we brought a tent with us on this trip. But, to be honest, we prefer a comfortable bed and a shower, so these are the sites we used to arrange a place to sleep for the night:
- The website of Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism. Their ‘Plan & Book’ feature we used over and over to find hotels, motels, B&B’s, and campsites. Links are given to the respective accommodation’s website or facebook page – if they have one.
- BBCanada, to find even more B&B’s in the area, or to check on the ones we found in step 1.
- And, last but not least, Airbnb – a great place to find a place to stay in even the most remote locations.