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Barachois Pond Provincial Park

Barachois Pond is the largest Provincial Park in Western Newfoundland. Located off the Trans Canada Highway the park is 20 kilometres from Stephenville. All 3500 hectares of the park are in the Western Newfoundland Forest ecoregion which is characterized by a balsam fir forest with an understory of ferns and moss. The Park has a variety of activities which make it one of the most popular parks in the province to visit. There are freshwater swimming beaches, bird watching, mountain streams, and invigorating hikes with panoramic views.

Please note this map is for illustrative purposes only. The park boundary may not be accurately portrayed.

Natural History

Plants and Animals

The Western Newfoundland Forest is distinguished from the rest of the 19 provincial ecoregions by its vegetation and climate. These in turn limit what types of animals one would expect to find in the area. The most common tree species in the park are evergreen and cone bearing including balsam fir, black spruce and white pine. in addition, several species of deciduous trees such as, yellow and white birch, maples, tamaracks and the rare black ash, provide a varied canopy for the undergrowth ferns and the animals that live in the forest. Please do not gather your own firewood. Dead trees provide a home or food source for both plants and animals.

The best time to experience wildlife in the park is in the morning or evening. Be quiet and aware. A moose may wander around the campsites or in streams and bogs. Herds of caribou along the top of the Long Range . A beaver may slap its tail in your presence. See if you can locate their houses on the Pond. Otters may be fishing in the rivers, don't mistake them for the smaller mink that roarn the park as well. Look for evidence of the snowshoe hare, such as chewed twigs along pathways. Foxes have also been seen. Look for bats at dusk. Chipmunks were introduced here from Nova Scotia in 1962.

Bird watchers will keep busy in this park. Ruffed grouse, northern goshawk, three-toed woodpecker, warblers and pine grosbeaks are a few of the over I 00 species recorded here. Listen and you will be delighted with their songs and calls.

Take a guided walk in boggy areas to see two insect eating plants, the pitcher and the sundew. Have a look for the fairy slipper calypso orchids that grow here.

Glaciers and Geology

The Park has an interesting geological history. It is part of the Long Range Mountains, which are the northern most extension of the Appalachian Mountain chain.

The Long Range Uplands are deeply cut by numerous rivers and streams, such as Little Barachois Brook that flows into the Park's eastern boundary. The erosive action of these rivers represents the finishing touches of the natural processes which sculpted the land in the past. First the mountain building forces when North America, Europe and Africa collided half a billion years ago to form the Appalachians, and then the erosional forces associated with glaciers which covered the land with ice sheets up to 1 kilometre thick about 10,000 years ago.

The Park's bedrock geology belongs to the Steel Mountain Anorthosite complex, which are between half a billion to a billion years old. Anorthosites are rocks composed predominantly of the mineral labrodorite, a variety of plagloclase feldspar (labradorite is prized as a semi precious stone for its colours in shades of blue and green).

When you hike up the Erin Mountain trail to the Uplands, you will be able to view large areas of exposed anorthosite bedrock, where you may stumble upon plagioclase crystals up to 10 centimetres long. If you are lucky you will also find blue-green pyroxene (another type of mineral common to anorthosites) crystals up to 3 meters long! A word of caution however; if you are using a compass to navigate your way through the barrens, don't place it on rocks - the bedrock locally contains a highly magnetic mineral known as magnetite which will produce erratic readings. This jet black mineral, commonly called lodestone, in the past was used by early explorers in their navigational equipment. Remember while in a provincial park photograph and explore, leaving everything you see in its natural condition.

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Area History

The west coast of Newfoundland was settled by eight different groups: the French, Acadian, Micmac, English, Channel Islanders, Irish, Scottish and Nova Scotians. Around 1780 a band of Micmac settled on the west coast in this area. This coast was part of the French Shore and until 1881 settlement was illegal; however little was done to prevent it. Between 1825 and 1845 a large number of people moved to the area from Nova Scotia because of the introduction of land taxes there! Long before the creation of the park, the waters and forests of Barachois Pond were important to these early residents of St. George's Bay. Moose and caribou hunting, rabbit snaring and trapping provided fresh meat. Local woodsmen utilized white pine, fir and spruce for house and boat construction and fuel. By 1958 commercial lumbering, combined with blister rust disease had exhausted most of the white pine stands. Barachois Pond became a park in 1962 to ensure the preservation of the area for nature appreciation and recreational use.

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Hiking

There are several different hiking trails within the park. Walk to the far end of the peninsula and cross over the bridge to reach the main hiking trails. The self-guided nature trail is about one kilometer long and loops back onto the main trail up to Erin Mountain.

Refer to the map and see that the Erin Mountain Trail begins at the bridge across the narrows. The hike to the summit takes about 2 hours round trip. 'The first part of the trail to the lower look-out is over excellent boardwalk through the trees. It is recommended for families. From the lookout see the beautiful bogs to the left where if you are lucky you might spot a moose! From here you can view most of Barachois Pond and the campgrounds.

The trail to the top of Erin Mountain from the lower look-out is through brush and in some places over rock. Light hiking boots are recommended. This trail is suitable for families, but make sure you pace the hike to your ability and make it fun. At the summit of 340 metres, you will be well rewarded with a panoramic view of St. George's Bay and the blue waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Look behind you and you will see the top of the Long Range Mountains.

The southern half of the park is characterized by the "Long Range Uplands"- a gently rolling surface with elevations in excess of 300 metres above sea level. Observe that this area does not support the growth of vegetation that the northern part of the park has, except for some stunted spruce known locally as "tuckamore". This, together with numerous small bogs and barren ridges, creates a wild and lonely landscape that is occasionally cloaked in fog, adding to the land's mystery and beauty.

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Park Activities

Camping

There are 150 campsites which are planned for their beauty and a maximum of privacy. Each one is only a few steps away from the shore of Barachois Pond. Most campsites can accommodate the larger recreational vehicles. Each campsite has a picnic table, fireplace, and space for your vehicle. Refer to the map on the other side for the location of your campsite in relation to other park facilities and activities. Drinking water and pit toilets are located throughout the park. A wheelchair accessible comfort station, including flush toilets, showers and a laundry room, is in the first loop after the park checkpoint. The trailer dumping station is located here as well. See the map to locate the five playgrounds within the park.

There is a remote campsite on top of Erin Mountain with picnic tables and a pit toilet. Nestled between two small ponds this site allows the hiker a chance to appreciate the wilderness of the area. If you plan to spend the night please ensure that you have adequate equipment and register with the checkpoint on arrival and departure.

A group camping area is provided to youth organizations. Reservations must be made by calling the park at:

Reservations

Tel: (709) 649-0048

Day Use

The day-use area, with picnic tables, playground, drinking water, and toilets, is located to the right of the checkpoint. The picnic area offers a spectacular view of Erin Mountain and the Pond Day visitors are encouraged to Participate in the many park activities, including swimming, boating, the nature trails and interpretation programs. This area is open until 10 pm.

Swimming and Boating

Barachois has two sandy swimming beaches on either side of the roadway leading to the peninsula. One beach is sheltered when the wind comes from the west and the other is sheltered when the wind is easterly.

CAUTION: SWIMMING AREAS ARE UNSUPERVISED.

Water safety equipment is located in a conspicuous place on the beaches. During July and August water temperatures range between 18° C and 22°C.

Barachois Pond itself is nine kilometres long and divided into three sections: first by a sand spit three kilometres down from Little Barachois Brook, and again by the peninsula where the first group of campsites are located. In both cases the sections of the pond are connected by a narrow channel of water.

The boat launch is located near the comfort station. Canoeing, sailing and boating are enjoyable pastimes for park visitors. By boat you can reach quiet comers of the pond offering a variety of views of the surrounding mountains.

Fishing

Why not wet your line in Barachois Pond? The shores of the pond are a good place for both the expert and novice alike. If you don't fish, join someone who does and see the flora and fauna that abound.

Salmon and sea run trout season 'in Barachois Brook is between June and usually the Monday after Labour Day. The pond is open for brook trout fishing from May to late August. Please check with Park staff for the exact dates as the seasons may vary depending on the condition of the stock and water levels. Barachois Brook is a scheduled salmon river and there are a number of rules and regulations which must be followed. For further details regarding angling refer to the Newfoundland and Labrador Hunting and Fishing Guide. Smelt fishing takes place during the winter through the ice. Bring your ice auger and have a try.

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