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Obey the directions when Signal Hill, Cape Spear open, says Parks Canada

Bill Brake, Parks Canada’s eastern Newfoundland and Labrador field unit superintendent, at the new beginning of the North Head Trail on Signal Hill Friday. —
Bill Brake, Parks Canada’s eastern Newfoundland and Labrador field unit superintendent, at the new beginning of the North Head Trail on Signal Hill Friday. — Barb Sweet/The Telegram

Friday morning the sun was bright, the day promising 22 C temperatures and foot and bike traffic on Signal Hill was picking up. 

The hill was quiet with no vehicular traffic except for authorized vehicles.

Parks Canada’s eastern Newfoundland and Labrador field unit superintendent, Bill Brake, was spending the morning explaining to media, one by one, how the famed hill and its trails, particularly the popular North Head trail, will work come Monday.

“One of our concerns is people may become complacent,” said Brake, explaining a recent flurry of robust social media messaging from Parks Canada.

More than 100 new signs have been installed at Signal Hill and Cape Spear explaining the new rules, including those instructing people to use social distancing of six feet or two metres when encountering others.

Basically, if people want to enjoy the parks, they will simply have to accept significant changes.

A few times, Brake had to explain to people coming up the trail what the new rules will be.

Starting June 1, Signal Hill and Cape Spear will be open with restrictions.

And the North Head Trail, for instance, there will be one-directional foot traffic starting at the top of Signal Hill and continuing downward to the Battery with the return trip looping back around up the Signal Hill road to the parking lot. 

These rules, said Brake, are meant to keep park staff and the public safe, and are also informed by provincial health guidelines.

Following them will help federal parks and sites move through the next stages of lifting the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Park staff are well aware people have been accessing the trails all along, even though they were officially closed for the winter. 

Brake said with limited staff, that could have been dangerous, because if someone was hurt they might not have been found or helped. 

As people trickled onto and off of Signal Hill Friday, the reviews were mixed. Some don’t like the fact that the trail goes in one direction starting at the top of the hill, because you get more exertion climbing up the trail from The Battery.

Some said it’s a price worth paying for access amid the pandemic.

One cyclist declined to speak to a reporter because technically, he was supposed to be working — a sign that glorious weather is tempting some work-at-homers to be more flexible with their day’s structure in order to take advantage of the sunshine. 

And once Monday comes, if you are going to either Cape Spear, Signal Hill or other national monuments and sites that are opened up, make sure you use the washroom before leaving home, as all bathroom facilities remain shuttered.

Parks Canada is urging people to check the particular site’s website for most up to date information on park restrictions.

What’s open as of June 1:

Signal Hill

  • Roadway

  • Lower parking lot

  • Upper parking lot

  • Fort York lookout

  • North Head Trail — one-way pedestrian use starting from the upper parking lot

  • Ladies' Lookout Trail — one-way pedestrian use starting from the Burma Road Trail

  • Gibbett Hill Trail — regular two-way use

  • Centre to Citadel Trail — regular two-way use from Visitor Centre to Queen's Battery Barracks; one-way pedestrian use starting from Queen's Battery Barracks to Cabot Tower

  • Burma Road Trail — regular two-way use

Cape Spear

  • Roadway

  • Upper parking lot

  • Lower parking lot

  • Most Easterly Point path — regular two-way use

  • Most Easterly Point lookout — upper and lower

  • Lighthouse Loop Trail — regular two-way use

  • Coastal Trail — please obey posted signage for direction of use

  • Coastal Trail Extensions — regular two-way use

If you wish to complete the entire coastal trail at Cape Spear, it is recommended to go in a North to South direction (Blackhead to Petty Harbour).

Watch for the full story in the Weekend Telegram. 

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