Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Final Leg: Park Avenue to Water Street

December 8, 2013

On the last day of our 50+ km hike from Holyrood to St. John's, our niece Bailey Scaplen walked with us. We maintained a respectable pace, spurred on by a cold day that discouraged dallying.

Trails in the St. John's metro area are part of the Grand Concourse urban walking network and they have names. We began on the Arboretum Walk in Mount Pearl, with trees on both sides, but soon found open fields to the south, part of the small area of agricultural land remaining within the boundaries of Mt. Pearl and St. John's.

The blue sky was a brilliant backdrop for the pale branches of winter-bare birch trees. This walk included plenty of deciduous trees, some undoubtedly planted in parkland and on private property, but others, like the birch, native species.  Note the heads of my companions at the bottom of the picture, both sporting warm hats.

Right around the boundary between the two cities we walked across an incomplete section of Team Gushue Highway.  Probably next time I see this will be driving along in four lanes of traffic.

A line of pine trees, something of a rarity and definitely not naturally occurring, separated us from the back yards of Edison Place, a street I'd never seen or heard of before today. On the other side of the track there was a college, another unknown entity.  Who can tell what you'll find when you get off the main drags?

The trail morphed into the Waterford River Walk as we entered Bowring Park, and moved closer to its namesake.  

In the park we saw quite a few walkers, many being exercised by their canines.  Bailey and her partner are about to welcome a greyhound into their household so we took particular note of dog-people interactions. 

Bowring Park is an absolute delight. You can chose to stroll the groomed areas or take to the trails that lead to many acres left in a more natural state.  As we leave the park we continue along the south side of the river. 

Two streets follow the river valley and the backyards of the houses run down close to the river. On the north side, Waterford Bridge Road has some fine old (and new) properties, mansions really. The architecture of Southside Road is more run of the mill, but some new infill houses are taking creative advantage of the sharp drop from street to riverbed. I've always thought I'd prefer the Southside as the sunsets over the river must be gorgeous.

The gap between the river and Waterford Bridge Road narrows as we reach the west end of Water Street.  A few houses sit low on the river's banks.

There's a small parking area just beyond this spot and a sign welcoming walkers joining the trail here to proceed in a westerly direction. We are heading east toward the trail's official start/end point at the Railway Coastal Museum, about half a kilometre away. But there is no trail going our way. We split up and search in several directions, checking around the corners of warehouses and looking doubtfully over chain link fences. We eventually discover that the trail resumes down past the intersection of Southside Road and Blackhead Road.  It's nice enough when we find it but signage would really help here. What a shame to lose a piece of the Trans Canada Trail to a city street so close to its eastern terminus.

At the end we cross the bridge alongside what I think of as the big blue recycle bin.  The city waits ahead.

Thanks to Bailey for the company and the conversation. And thanks to Jim for signing on for the duration.


Distance:  7.1 km 

Time:  1 hour 35 minutes

Litter:  Not a problem.

Trail condition:  Good. 

Scenic Rating:  ***1/2

Fellow users:  Quite a few walkers and dog people.  20+  

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