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The best way to see Francois, a picturesque Newfoundland outport, is by hiking along its walking trails. Whether you pick an easy hike or a challenging one, you will be rewarded for your effort.

Walking on boardwalk through Francois
Walking on boardwalk through Francois
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Each trail offers scenic views and the opportunity to meet local residents along the way. Wear good hiking shoes. And don't forget to bring sunscreen, drinking water and your camera.

Charlie's Head hike

The climb to Charlie's Head is made easier by boardwalks and stairs with railings. It begins as an easy walk past several homes in Francois.

As we walked past a green house with a sign reading "Clyde & Lillian Durnford," a gentleman leaned over his balcony to chat. Embarrassed that we couldn't understand his Newfoundland accent, we asked him to repeat his comments.

"I'm 82 years old," he said. "My wife is 81. We've been married for 61 years. I've lived here all my life."

"Congratulations!" we replied.

He looked much younger than his age. We wondered if the clean air, the local diet of fresh fish and the stress-free environment were responsible.

Stairway to lookout

The wooden stairway to Charlie's Head is steep. It begins just past the lovingly tended town cemetery.

Francois and Adventure Canada ship viewed from Charlie's Head
Francois and Adventure Canada ship viewed from Charlie's Head
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Locals use the stairway to pick wild blueberries and black raspberries above town. It rises over tundra-like scenery and glacier-scarred granite. As we climbed, our admiration grew for the local volunteers who built it.

Hikers descend The Friar Trail
Hikers descend The Friar Trail
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

The lookout platform at the top is 107 meters (350 feet) high. Like a postcard, Francois spread out below us, dwarfed by towering cliffs. Anchored in the harbor, was our Adventure Canada ship, which brought us here on a cruise around Newfoundland.

Hiking to The Friar

The Friar Trail is strenuous. Hikers have to scramble up through forest to the peak of a 207-meter (680-foot) bluff, from where they have spectacular views of Francois and its harbor.

They then have to work their way down through shrubs and around big boulders until they reach the rocky shoreline. The length of the trail depends on how fast you walk (and how often you stop to take photos). Allow two to three hours for the hike.

Hiking around pond above Francois
Hiking around pond above Francois
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Walking around the pond

The easiest walking trail is around the pond above Francois. Part of the trail is boardwalk; the rest is on broken rocks and meadow, speckled with colorful wildflowers in early summer.

Along the path, we spotted fluffy white Arctic cotton, bright orange anemones, pink lady's slipper orchids, clumps of white bunchberry flowers and abundant green fiddleheads.

Magna-tea berries

We met Francois resident, Deborah Baggs, on the trail. She showed us a spot where manna-tea berries (Gaultheria hispidula) grow in late summer.

Wild orange anemone flowers
Wild orange anemone flowers
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

"They're soft and white and grow on moss," she said. "Their taste is good, a bit perfumy. We ate lots of manna-tea berries as kids."

We later learned that these wintergreen-flavored fruits are also called magna-tea berries, creeping snowberry and maidenhair berries.

We asked her if we would see moose in this area. "Not many," she replied. "They prefer places where there's salt on the roads on the other side of Newfoundland."

Lighthouse trail

Before we could do more hiking in Francois we had to return to the ship to resume our cruise. On our next visit, we plan to hike the trail to the lighthouse at the entrance to the harbor.

We can't wait.


Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

Adventure Canada

More things to see & do on Adventure Canada Newfoundland Circumnavigation cruises:

Fogo Island Newfoundland - Brimstone Head Trail Hike

Newfoundland Wildflowers and Granite - Southwest Coast Garia Bay Hike

Lookout Trail Hike - Gros Morne National Park Newfoundland

Little Bay Islands Newfoundland Outport Tour - Before Resettlement

Newfoundland Beer, Iceberg Vodka, Screech and Berry Wines