The Bonavista Branch Line was a railway line that ran from Clarenville to Bonavista (seen here in blue). It was in use from 1911 – 1983.
The Bonavista Branch Line runs for 145 km between Clarenville and Bonavista. I recently rode this in 4 days (return trip = 290 km) and thoroughly enjoyed the trip. The railbed, for the most part, is in fantastic shape. There are a couple of sections that have not been repaired since Hurricane Igor struck in 2011 but there are easy workarounds to those.
The first 15 km of the trail runs along the water from Clarenville to Georges Brook and offers some good views. But after that the track often remains inland and it is typically bordered by dense forest so the vistas tend to be few and far between. The upside of this corridor of trees is that it blocks the wind and provides shade, a real bonus as the temperatures were very high when I rode this in early August.
Running water wasn’t plentiful on this ride so I often resorted to taking water from ponds and filling up whenever I passed through a town. I had access to a store once or twice each day so resupply was easy.
Filleting cod near Georges Brook.
This gives you a good sense of how the trail typically is. Note the good quality of the former railbed and the corridor of trees lining it.
The track leads you to Trinity and the surrounding communities which were a real highlight of the ride.
East of Trinity there are two trestles that collapsed in 2011’s flood, but you can get around them by taking the road.
Again, you get an idea of what the riding is like – smooth trail lined with trees.
I didn’t see much wildlife but I did see a pair of nesting osprey.
Yep – it was hot.
After reaching Bonavista I started the return journey by riding down Highway 235 then picking up 236 (dirt road) back to Trinity. I did this because the section between Bonavista and Trinity wasn’t interesting enough to repeat AND…
… I wanted to hit the Bonavista Social Club in Upper Amherst Cove. Pizza from a wood-fired oven after riding all day? Yes please!
The food was fantastic and as I ate a pod of 6 humpback whales were breaching in the water below. It doesn’t get much better than that.
An iceberg on the horizon.
Looking back at Upper Amherst Cove.
I’m now back on the railbed near Port Rexton.
I had a fantastic continental breakfast at The Twine Loft in Trinity. It was so good I came back again the next day. Fresh fruit, yogurt, toast, cereal, muffins, tea buns, cookies, juice and coffee all for 8 bucks! Plus, the owner, Tineke Gow, went out of her way to be helpful by pulling out topographic maps and calling her daughter for the status of some of the trestles I would have to cross.
Fresh blueberries on my oatmeal in the morning were a real treat.
It was so hot on this ride I had to jump in a pond and drink beer at the same time just to cool off! 🙂