Guided tours to view the fossils are available from Natural Areas Interpreters. For more information about guided tours (mid-May to mid-October) call the Edge of Avalon Interpretive Centre in Portugal Cove South (709-438-1011) and ask to speak to one of the Reserve's Interpreters.
This tour will introduce you to the history of the area, the fossils of the Ediacaran biota, and how Mistaken Point became known world-wide, most recently as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will get a chance to see fossils up close, by donning bama booties and walking on the surface of these internationally significant bedding planes filled with thousands of fossils.
An official Natural Areas Interpreter will take you on a 45 minute (one-way) walk through history to the sloping hills of Mistaken Point. The rolling path winds over the barrens along the coastline. Initially this route follows the track leading to the former seasonal fishing site at Watern Cove. Remnant rock 'fish flakes' (used for drying cod) can still be found in the area. There is a small river crossing with stepping stones to walk on. Depending upon the water level, your feet may get wet.
Guided tour reservations are strongly advised, as tours are often fully booked in advance.
Tours leave from the Edge of Avalon Interpretative Centre daily at 1 pm.
Tour participants are recommended to arrive at the Interpretive Centre no later than 12:30 pm. From the Centre it is a 30 minute drive along a gravel road to reach the trailhead where the Mistaken Point Guided Tour hike begins.
Length of program: 31/2-4 Hours. Return time to the Edge of Avalon Interpretive Centre, Portugal Cove South is approximately 5 p.m.
Difficulty: This trail is rated as a moderately difficult hiking trail. There are uneven and wet surfaces, and some scrambling over rocks. The overall distance (6 km) may pose the greatest challenge for some. Sections of the trail are muddy, wet and often slippery. This is especially true of the approaches to Watern Cove. You are advised to use caution in these areas.
Capacity: 12 people/tour
Part of the coastline of Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve (from The Drook to Cape Race) lies within the official Mistaken Point Canadian Important Bird Area (IBA). This IBA is considered globally significant because of its wintering populations of Purple Sandpipers and Common Eiders.
This tour will take you, along with an official Natural Areas Interpreter, to explore the Freshwater Cove area of the Reserve (within the IBA). Along this hike you will search for bird species of interest and also be introduced to the impressive geology of the Reserve. As of June 2009, a total of 180 bird species had been recorded within the Reserve and its offshore waters (up to 500 metres from the coast). The Reserve hosts a substantial breeding population of Black-legged Kittiwakes (over 4,100 active nests were counted on June 29, 2009, primarily at the Rookery and Freshwater Cove), together with much smaller numbers of nesting Atlantic Puffins, Razorbills, Common Murres, Black Guillemots, Double-crested Cormorants, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls.
Tours leave from the Edge of Avalon Interpretative Centre every Tuesday and Friday at 10 am. Tour participants are recommended to arrive at the Interpretive Centre no later than 9:30am.
Length of program: 2 Hours
Difficulty: Moderate, uneven surfaces
Capacity: 8 people/tour
Organized tour groups (for example, from universities, conferences or schools) must obtain an Educational Tour Permit before visiting the Reserve.
The trail from the Watern Cove-Mistaken Point trailhead to the east side of Watern Cove is one of three designated walking trails (512 KB) that visitors can use within Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve without a permit. The others are the trails to overviews of the seabird colonies at The Rookery and Freshwater Cove.
Access to view the fossils is by guided tour or permit only.
Please note that a permit is required to access the Fossil Protection Zone. For more information visit How to Get There.
Please carry a compass if you intend to walk a designated trail on your own.
For more information about guided tours (late May - early October) within Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, or to book a tour, call the Edge of Avalon Interpretive Centre in Portugal Cove South and ask to speak to one of the Reserve's Interpreters.
Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve
Tel: (709) 438-1011
For information on Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve permit requirements for research, educational tour groups or commercial operators, or the Reserve's Fossil Protection Zone, contact:
Tony Power, Manager
Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve
Tel: (709) 438-1012
For general information about Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve or any of the other wilderness and ecological reserves in the Province's protected areas system, please contact the Natural Areas Program.