Trout River Pond is one of the most scenic areas in Gros Morne National Park, and seeing it from the top in winter is an unforgettable experience. The 15km pond begins at the edge of Southwest Gulch behind the Tablelands and stretches almost all the way to the coast at Trout River. During the winter it freezes quite solid and is often converted into a snowmobile highway. The contrast of the pond and the regular granite rock beyond it in relation to the red rock that makes up the Tablelands make this one of the best views in the whole park.
Leaving from the ski chalet at Southwest Gulch the trip is 6km each way and takes 3-4 hours. The first 2.5km is mostly uphill, rising up almost 350 meters above the chalet, but it is fairly gradual compared to most of the surrounding slopes. Large pieces of rock, broken off by frost, line the way up like giant ochre trail markers. This section is quite strenuous so be wary of overdressing and make sure you have enough water. Each time you crest a ridge, expecting to be at the top, the endless mountain just keeps rising getting rockier as you go. The mountain's size is very deceptive and the terrain tends to get worse as you go. It is a little difficult to navigate your skis through the narrow snow and ice channels that run through the rock fields.
From the top you travel straight across the icy plateau in a North West direction until you get to small river gorge that widens out into a large crack as it goes farther down the mountain. From here you must stay to the left side of the gorge and be very careful as you make your way down to a good vantage point. The slope here is very icy and can be extremely dangerous, but if you stay on the fragmented rock piles you can keep your footing and make your way down.
The view of the pond is breathtaking. You can see all the way to where the inner pond gives way to the outer pond at the narrows, a slit of water less than 30 meters wide. The outer pond is snow covered while the innermost section remains clear, probably due to the high winds funneling down from the Tablelands. The opposite side offers a view of the rolling foothills that stretch all the way to the Bay of Islands. From the best viewing point, a small jut of rock at the edge of the mountain, the rock falls away into a sheer cliff that drops 600 meters before reaching the shores of the pond below. A fall here would be a one way trip so always be mindful of your surroundings and air on the side of caution.
The trip back to the cabin involves just backtracking to the top of the mountain and following a back bearing to the valley back down. There are several great lines that you can ski here but beware of avalanche dangers and equip yourself and your group with probes and beacons. Many of the runs down are quite safe but they should only be attempted by experienced skiers. The snow conditions on the slopes can range from icy and fast to deep powder depending on the weather, location, and time of year. Again, remember to air on the side of caution, because you are a long way from help if something goes wrong.
This route is a great day ski that can be done without staying at the chalet, but with the unpredictable weather it is probably safer to stay the night. The view of Trout River Pond is well worth the trek up the mountain and the landscape on top of the Tablelands is truly unforgettable. Weather conditions can change here in a matter of minutes so make sure you are prepared for any eventuality. Winds can reach well over 100km/hr on the summit and blowing snow can reduce visibility to zero. It could take days for help to reach you so keep that in mind when exploring the area.
From Deer Lake take route 430, also known as the Viking Trail and follow it to Wiltondale and the entrance to Gros Morne. Take route 431 to Bonne Bay South. For more information see the trip report for Southwest Gulch
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