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The Basques came to Southern Labrador from France and Spain in the mid-1500s to hunt bowhead and right whales, whose oil in turn was used to “light the streets of Europe.”

As you walk the trail you can see why Red Bay was such a popular port for the Basque whaling operation. Saddle Island, sitting just offshore, provides a barrier to wind and waves sweeping in off the Atlantic Ocean. Across the bay, the gently sloping land made an ideal shore-based location for the whale blubber to be rendered into oil and packed into barrels.

{sidebar id=14}The mostly flat, gravel trail is suitable for walkers of all ages and levels. It starts out—at the end of the road to Tracey—in a stunted fir and larch forest, then morphs into a tundra-like groundcover of Labrador tea, bakeapples, crowberries, lichen and mosses.

As you get close to Boney Shore’s cobbled beach keep an eye out for whitish-grey whale bones, dating back to the 16th century (but leave them in place so others can “discover” them as well).

If it’s a clear day you can go down to the beach and look for whales just off shore. On our most recent trip this past July, we saw a couple of minke whales feeding on herring. Local fishermen told us that two weeks prior to our visit, Red Bay was filled with whales following the annual capelin run.

Eco-friendly hiking tips:

Please leave historic whale bones where the Basque left them (don’t take a souvenir home).

Please stay on the trail. Plants have a hard time growing here and if you step on them, they may take a long time to recover.

Please use the trash cans at the start of the trail for any refuse you might have.

GPS coordinates

Starting and end locations
51° 44.079 N
56° 26.461 W

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