The Bay du Nord Wilderness Reserve is an excellent place for outdoor recreational activities including the following:
Entry permits are required to visit the reserve for any of these activities.
An outstanding wilderness hiking experience from Diamond Lake to Howley's Cairn (the summit of Mount Sylvester, 378 metres above sea level) will give you a spectacular view of the area.
There are no developed hiking trails along the Bay du Nord, but old fishing trails along the river provide access to a number of the canoe routes.
As well, the areas around Smokey Falls and the abandoned community of Bay du Nord can both be explored on foot.
For expert canoeists and kayakers, the Bay du Nord river offers a diverse and challenging experience.
The most popular tour is a 100 km, five- to seven-day trip, beginning at Kepenkeck Lake. This tour takes you in a southward direction through several types of riverscapes, and ends at Pool's Cove in Fortune Bay, on Newfoundland's south coast. The divisions of the trip include:
Many other canoe or kayak trips are possible in the reserve, including routes along the river systems of the Salmon, North East, and North West Rivers, as well as through abundant ponds. The North West River, for example, offers a less strenuous, two-day passage through birch glades and pine trees, with a 3-km finale of exciting, moderately difficult rapids (most of which are navigable).
Throughout the system, portages are generally short. When water levels are high (early spring), the lower Bay du Nord offers some Class IV or greater rapid sequences, and good kayaking opportunities.
Potential wilderness campsites are spread throughout the river system there are more than a dozen between Smokey Falls and the mouth of the river, for example.
Camping in one location is restricted to no more than 10 days and an entry permit is required. Please do not litter, and pack out everything you bring in, including cans, glass, and other refuse. In some seasons, open fires are not permitted. Contact your local office of the Department of Natural Resources to determine if open fires are permitted.
Binoculars are an excellent addition to the pack when travelling in the Bay du Nord Wilderness Reserve.
The southeastern corner of the reserve provides the largest area of Canada goose habitat on the Island of Newfoundland. Other species of birds include common loon, northern harrier, belted kingfisher, common snipe, and rough-legged hawk. You'll also find willow ptarmigan.
The forested areas of the reserve are home to northern waterthrush and pine grosbeak. Elsewhere, keep an eye out for osprey, common terns, blue jays, owls and songbirds.
In addition to the large mammals-caribou, moose, and black bear-wildlife includes all the animals common to the Island: lynx, fox, snowshoe hare, beaver, muskrat, otter, mink, weasel, red squirrel, shrew, meadow vole, and brown bat.
At about 15,000 animals, the Middle Ridge caribou is the largest woodland caribou herd on the Island. Woodland caribou live on barrens and in coniferous forests. Adult females can weight up to 135 kg, males can reach 270 kg; both genders can have antlers.
The caribou eat the slow-growing lichens on the barrens during the winter and a variety of other green plants in the summer. The majority of the herd winters in the southeastern portion of the reserve, near Allens Pond and Otter Pond. The calving season begins in late May. Most migrate further south of the reserve, within viewing distance of the Tolt. Adult males and non-breeding caribou disperse throughout the range.
In the summer, the majority of the herd can be found more to the south-they seek the cool breezes of the coast.
It is possible to hunt large and small game in the reserve-commonly hunted species include caribou, moose, snowshoe hare, and ptarmigan (known locally as partridge).
Residents and non-residents of the province can participate in this activity if, in addition to an entry permit, they hold a valid hunting licence,-which are carried while in the reserve-abide by provincial and federal legislation, and only hunt species for which an open season has been declared. Note that the use of ATVs for game retrieval is not allowed in the reserve.
With an entry permit, licensed trappers can trap mammals in the reserve, including beaver, lynx, mink, muskrat, otter, red squirrel, fox, and weasel.
Note that snowmobiling is not permitted in the caribou winter range from December 15 to March 15. See Bay du Nord Wilderness Reserve User's Guide for a map of the winter range of the caribou herd.
The Bay du Nord is a scheduled Atlantic salmon river. Smokey Falls marks the limit of freshwater habitat for the sea salmon; above the falls, landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing is good.
In addition to an entry permit, residents must have a valid salmon licence, available at many local sport shops and convenience stores.
In addition to an entry permit, non-residents of the province require a licence to fish in any inland waters; they also must be accompanied by a licensed guide when fishing for salmon in the reserve. For a list of licenced guides, visit the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Hunting and Fishing Site.