A gorgeous, popular park that still offers the chance for solitude, Barachois Pond is a must-see for those exploring Newfoundland and Labrador. The park's namesake, Barachois Pond, is its main attraction. This lovely body of freshwater sits at the base of Erin Mountain and offers fantastic opportunities for paddling, swimming, fishing and more.
Naturalists can search for some of the diverse flora and fauna that call the park home; bogs, marshes, coniferous forests and tundra-like uplands each provide unique and beautiful habitats. Head out with a guidebook and a magnifying glass to study some of the many moss and lichen species that thrive on the Long Range Mountain's foggy tops, or take a pair of binoculars and search for some of the colorful songbirds that summer in the park's dense woodlands.
Hikers and photographers will relish the Erin Mountain trail, which climbs a 1,000 ft. peak and offers a stunning view of land and sea alike. A small, backcountry campground is available near the peak.
Sporting a well-maintained, 150-site campground, Barachois can get quite busy during its peak, mid-summer season. Most of the park's sites are first-come first-served, though about a quarter can be reserved over the phone or online.
For many travelers, the most difficult part of reaching Barachois will be getting to Newfoundland in the first place. Once you do arrive on this beautiful, northerly island, however, you'll find the park to be quite accessible. Barachois is located right off the Trans-Canadian Highway. (Yes, Highway 1 crosses Newfoundland too!) A short, paved access road brings you to the park's checkpoint and campground.
The large town of Stephenville, which has grocery and supply stores, restaurants, banks, and even its own airport, is just a 30-minute drive to the west of the park.
Since the access road mellow and well maintained, and since it branches directly off Highway-1, you need not worry about sharp turns, steep slopes or low underpasses.
Parking should be a breeze for most, as the majority of sites can accommodate even large RVs and trailers. The first campground loop (sites 1-44) sits right in the middle of the action, and just about all the park's amenities are within walking distance. The other loops can be found further east along the pond's shore. The furthest loop is about a mile away - it's a pleasant walk back to the campground's main hub, but you can also drive and park in one of the excess parking areas.
Barachois' sizable campground offers 150 sites, most of which are suitable for travelers with RVs or trailers (the park's website shows some sites can accommodate rigs over 35 ft, but does not specify a set length limit - you can call ahead to ensure your rig will fit in a certain spot).
Camping sites are spread out among six loops which hug the northern bank of Barachois Pond. The first of these loops is located near the center of the action; the boat launch, both swim beaches, the comfort station with showers and laundry, the playground and the Erin Mountain trailhead are all within walking distance. All campground loops have potable water spigots and pit toilets (flush toilets are located at the comfort station).
Sites, which are shaded by fir, spruce, aspen and birch, are all primitive. No electric, water or sewage hookup's are available. There is a sanitary dump station located right by the conform station, however.
Reservations are taken at about a quarter of the park's sites, while the rest are first-come first-served. The park is usually open from mid-May to mid-September.
Photographers can have a ball at Barachois. Head into thick fir forests, climb to the sweeping panorama atop Erin Mountain, or traverse the stark and dramatic southern uplands, which are often swept by eerie billows of fog. Eagles, caribou, moose and more are prime subjects for eager wildlife photographers. If you're arriving at the very tail end of the season, you may see the leaves of aspen and birch begin to turn their autumnal shade of gold.
Barachois Pond is a canoeists' paradise. The freshwater pond offers several scenic miles of winding of shoreline to explore; even in this busy park, you can have a tranquil spot on the water all to yourself, should you want it. Watch for colorful warblers and vireos flitting among shoreline boughs during the summer, and keep an eye out for thirsty deer and moose. Head to deeper water and cast a line, or just enjoy a view of Erin Mountain's verdant slopes.
A convenient boat launch is located right by the comfort station and the eastern swim beach.
With such a diverse set of habitats packed into a relatively small park, it's no surprise that the resident fauna are diverse as well. Two of the most iconic residents are moose and caribou; you can see the former lapping up freshwater or foraging for spruce in the lowlands, and you may spot the latter marching across the grassy, rolling hills of the uplands. Otters, mink, beaver and muskrat can be found traversing the park's waterways. Look to the skies and the trees and you'll probably see some of the over 100 species of birds known to frequent the park.
Barachois Pond sports two lovely, sandy swim beaches. Their locations on opposite sides of a rocky peninsula mean that at least one is sheltered from the wind at any given time. Newfoundland's summers are quite mild, with high temperatures usually hovering around 70 degrees (21 Celsius), so you're swim at Barachois may be a bracing one. Guests should note that while there are designated swim beaches, the park doesn't staff any lifeguards.
If you'd rather enjoy the pond without getting in, boating is also a popular activity.
Within just a few kilometers, hikers can take in the surprising natural diversity that Barachois has to offer. The Erin Mountain Trail, near the campground's first loop, winds its way 1000 ft (340 meters) up its namesake peak, offering great views of the pond as you pass underneath the boughs of fir and spruce. Upon reaching the top, you'll be greeted with a truly spectacular panorama; the grand blue waters of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence stretching to the north and west, while the Long Range Mountains form an impressive ridge heading southward. At this higher elevation, you'll find a tundra-like world of grasses, mosses, bogs and clusters of wind-stunted spruce.
Those wishing to take in and explore the area can camp at a wild campsite located near the peak. Make sure you register at the front office first, though.
Both Barachois Pond and Barachois Brook provide some of the best angling Newfoundland has to offer. The former has a long, mellow shoreline that's great for a relaxing cast. Enjoy a spectacular view of Erin Mountain while fishing for hefty brook trout.
The rushing waters of Barachois Brook, meanwhile, see the migration of several species of Anadromous fish, including salmon and sea trout, which are prized by sport fishermen and chefs alike. Angling on this scenic brook (which is designated a "Scheduled Salmon River") is more regulated, and you should check with the park to see what is and isn't in season.