In-Depth: Churchill Falls Hike
An in-depth account of our Churchill Falls Hike
This page describes, in detail (and with extra pictures), our short hike along the Beaudoin Canyon trail to a lookout of Churchill Falls. This hike was part of our 2-week "Overland to the Rock" Newfoundland Trip. If you came to this page looking for the general narrative for that trip, then you have come to the wrong place. You should go here
The term 'Churchill Falls' is most famous these days in reference to the massive Churchill Falls generating station -- the third-largest hydro-electric plant in North America (2nd largest in Canada, and 2nd largest underground station in the world). However, before Churchill Falls the station and Churchill Falls the town, there was the actual Churchill Falls.
The falls still exist, although the diversion of most of the Churchill River's water into vast holding reservoirs has turned the falls into a ghost of its former self. Still, the falls are in a scenic setting, still pretty and still worth seeing.
The trail to the best lookout on the falls starts from along the Trans-Labrador Highway at the western end of the bridge over the Churchill River, some twenty kilometres or so west of the town of Churchill Falls. There is a large gravel parking lot on the south side of the highway.
At the edge of the parking lot, a sign marks the start of the Bowdoin Canyon Nature Trail. This wide crushed-gravel path will be the trail that takes you to lookouts of Churchill Falls.
The first 0.8 km or so of trail is a wide path, with crushed gravel laid down on top of the trail. There are a few small up and down hills where the trail crosses brooks, and the crossings themselves have sturdy, hand-railed foot-bridges.
There are one or two limited views of the Churchill River (above the falls) as you walk along this section.
After about the 0.8km mark, the trail's crushed gravel surface ends, and the trail becomes narrower. Still, it is easy and there is not much elevation change. You come to a much better viewpoint that gives you a nice view down the start of vertical-walled Bowdoin Canyon. You also get a limited side-on view of Churchill Falls.
Continuing a bit further along the trail (to about the 1.25km mark), you curve around to the east, and come to a series of viewpoints (choose which one you like best) that directly face the falls. Here you can take note of how large the bare bedrock bed of the river is -- and how small the current flow of water looks as it runs down the middle of this huge tub of bedrock. The falls themselves are still quite nice, and you can't help but wonder how powerful and majestic the falls would have looked back in the 1960s, before most of the water was diverted.
The Bowdoin Canyon trail continues along east and south for much longer, but this is as far as this trail description goes.
If you want to return to the main narrative at the point where this hike ended and our road trip continued, then please click here