The DIRT

 

The Bonavista branch line was the second longest of the island’s branch line railway routes. The trail can be picked up in the Town of Clarenville, and runs from the main T’Railway to the historic Town of Bonavista, 142 kms away, at the tip of the Bonavista Peninsula.

The trail winds its way to both the Trinty Bay and the Bonavista Bay sides of the peninsula, as well as covering its full length. You will ride through many beautiful areas, following along the banks of rivers and streams in many places, and riding right along the coastline in other regions.  One of the most beautiful coastal areas the trail runs through is a collection of about a dozen small coastal communities, known as the ‘Trinty Bight’ area.  Trinity Bight may just be the most beautiful area on the entire island, and a stop-over there is highly recommended.

I have ridden the length of the Bonavista branch line trail many times, over the years, and in the past it was typically a very leisurely ride, with the terrain being mostly hard-pack, with only the occasional washout or flooded area to deal with. But after the big Hurricane Igor weather event of 2010, this trail in particular, suffered more damage than any others on the island.

During the summer of 2011 I revisited the trail on my motorcycle, with a plan to scout the damage I had heard about, with my own eyes (and cameras). What I found was good and bad news. While many of the railway trestles along the route had been completely washed out or damaged beyond simple repair, a year after Hurricane Igor’s wrath, I discovered that many of the local trail users had created bypass routes around the damaged trestles and causeways.

Some riders may be intimidated by the photos of damaged trestles and washouts I have included here, but others, like me, I’m sure will see these trail detours and technical bypasses as adding to the challenge and adventure of what the Bonavista branch line trail has to offer.

Name: The Bonavista branch Line

Distance: 142 kms

Duration: 1 day

Rating: Class 5-6

Creator: Geoff Smith

Location: Eastern Newfoundland, on the Bonavista Peninsula

 

The Bonavista branch line was the second longest of the island’s branch line railway routes. The trail can be picked up in the Town of Clarenville, and runs from the main T’Railway to the historic Town of Bonavista, 142 kms away, at the tip of the Bonavista Peninsula.

The trail winds its way to both the Trinty Bay and the Bonavista Bay sides of the peninsula, as well as covering its full length. You will ride through many beautiful areas, following along the banks of rivers and streams in many places, and riding right along the coastline in other regions.  One of the most beautiful coastal areas the trail runs through is a collection of about a dozen small coastal communities, known as the ‘Trinty Bight’ area.  Trinity Bight may just be the most beautiful area on the entire island, and a stop-over there is highly recommended.

I have ridden the length of the Bonavista branch line trail many times, over the years, and in the past it was typically a very leisurely ride, with the terrain being mostly hard-pack, with only the occasional washout or flooded area to deal with. But after the big Hurricane Igor weather event of 2010, this trail in particular, suffered more damage than any others on the island.

During the summer of 2011 I revisited the trail on my motorcycle, with a plan to scout the damage I had heard about, with my own eyes (and cameras). What I found was good and bad news. While many of the railway trestles along the route had been completely washed out or damaged beyond simple repair, a year after Hurricane Igor’s wrath, I discovered that many of the local trail users had created bypass routes around the damaged trestles and causeways.

Some riders may be intimidated by the photos of damaged trestles and washouts I have included here, but others, like me, I’m sure will see these trail detours and technical bypasses as adding to the challenge and adventure of what the Bonavista branch line trail has to offer.

All Photos by Geoff Smith unless otherwise noted

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Railway trestle badly damaged by Hurricane Igor between Port Rexton and Catalina


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Above:  A video by Geoff Smith showing some of the terrain on the Bonavista Branch Line





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A majestic iceberg as seen from the trail at Port Rexton

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A rider navigates a washout near Sweet Bay

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Another badly damaged trestle in the Trinity Bight area

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Photo By: Shannon Richmond, The author riding along one of the coastal sections of the trail

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Deadfall on the trail is common, especially since Hurricane Igor passed through the region

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Another washed out railway crossing

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Riders lining up to cross a short flooded section of trail

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A damaged causeway and trestle near the Town of Trinity

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Riders on the trail near George’s Brook

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Rider on a railway trestle near Sweet Bay

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Enjoying the ride near the midway point


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