Running Labrador: Hamilton River Road Bypass Trail

Red bench along trail

Red bench along trail

Runway Closure, Day 2
On day two of being one of the “Runway People”, I explored another trail.  You can read about my day one adventure where I ran on the fabulous Birch Island boardwalk trails.  I have to admit, I was quite happily stranded in Happy Valley-Goose Bay for a couple of days due to the Goose Bay Airport runway closure.

Always Talk to Taxi Drivers
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m no shrinking violet.  I love to chat with people.  Well, one of the first folks I chatted with when I arrived at the Goose Bay Airport from Nain, Labrador, just prior to the unannounced and quite unprecedented runway closure, was Melina from Cooney’s Taxi.  She drove me to my destination and while chatting I mentioned that I would be leaving the next morning to head home to Nanaimo.  She gave me her personal business card (on which was noted “CAR # ONE” – right on girl!) and away she went.

Early the next morning, just as I was texting her to tell her about the runway closer, which I heard via an email from Air Canada stating that my flight was canceled, Melina showed up at my door to tell me this exact same news. We laughed and instantly bonded.  We proceeded to text each other over the course of the next few days and even after I safely and eventually arrived home on the other side of the country!

The bypass trail

The bypass trail

Hamilton River Road Bypass Trail
It was Melina who told me about this trail.  I had seen it the day before when I ran past it.  It started right next to the Tim Hortons on Hamilton River Road, but I had no idea where it went. I recall, there was only one sign indicating that no motor vehicles were allowed on the trail.

A little aside… how did it come to pass that Melina told me about this trail?  Well, after my Birch Island run the day before, I had done a little grocery shopping and had returned home with a whole wheat baguette to go with my wine and cheese.  Unfortunately, my baguette was moldy… apparently, they are not big sellers in HV-GB.  So I just drank my wine without it. I was sad about that, as I LOVE bread, but what could I do about it?

But, there was some hope for more HV-GB adventure, when I heard that the runway was closed for yet another day.   Apparently, not everybody was thrilled about that, but I used it as a great excuse to explore the area some more!

Support Taxi Drivers in Small Towns
Taxi drivers in the small town of HV-GB rely heavily on the business they get from the airport traffic (both commercial and air force), which is pretty substantial for a rather remote airport.  With the runway closed, there wasn’t much other taxi business.  So, on day two of my unexpected stay, I called up Melina and asked her to drive me to the grocery store so that I could exchange the baguette, chat with her a bit more and give her some business.  After I told her about my Birch Bay run the day before, I mused about where to go for another run.  That was when she told me about this trail.

Up and Over the Unnamed Trail
Hamilton River Road is quite busy being the main conduit between the airport and the rest of the Valley.  Running or walking beside it was not at all appealing.  Even at the time of the runway closure, there was still lots of traffic, so this bypass trail was perfect for a run! This unnamed black-topped trail makes it easy for runners, walkers, and bike riders to transverse over the sandy terrain between the two small, but now combined, communities of Happy Valley and Goose Bay.

Stretching on red bars

Stretching on red bars

The trail starts conveniently between the Tim Hortons and the Federal Court building and across from the Labrador Health Centre.  It soon passes a residential area to the right and wilderness (trees and shrubs) to the left. It rises up to pass the multiple sports fields and buildings of the Mealy Mountain Collegiate High School.  Then up some more, but not too challenging, for a great view back down towards the Churchill River.  It levels out again and runs past more residential areas – with a few trial offshoots – before hitting Hamilton River Road again at the intersection with Kelland Drive.

While only about 3.5K long, this trail avoids the major Hamilton River Road, which according to Google Maps, would have taken me the same length of time to walk/run had I taken it.  But what a great alternative.  There are lovely red and blue benches along the way, perfect for push-ups, tricep dips, Bulgarian leg dips, leg stretches or if you must, sitting and resting. There is also easy access to the red bars around the High School sports fields, for additional exercises, if you are so inclined!

Downtown Goose Bay
Once I hit the second Hamilton River Road I was in “downtown” Goose Bay.  I explored the shops along this stretch of road, including Dorothys Crafts and Sewing, where I purchased a couple of small souvenirs (which I could run with).  I would highly recommend Dorothy’s for larger souvenirs, such as photos, paintings, plus Inuit made jewelry, clothing, and carvings.

I also stopped in at Merle Norman Cosmetics, which was right next door to Dorothy’s and vowed to return the next day for a manicure, if I was still in the area.  Alas, that was not to be as the runway was opened for a four-hour window to allow flights to land and take off.  To their credit, Air Canada delayed their morning flight to Halifax, aka my long overdue exit flight, to fit into this window and I was able to get out of HV-GB but not before taking a final taxi ride to the airport with Melina so I could thank her and tell her all about my explorations of the area.

Name that Trail
I’ve been in touch with a few folks in HV-GB about the name of this trail, but apparently, it is just called the “walking/bike trail.”  Come on people… think of a better name!  I noticed a memorial marker along the trail for a young man, unfortunately, I didn’t get his name. Perhaps someone else knows! I also recently heard the sad news that the mayor of HV-GB died in a tragic gun accident, so perhaps this trail could be named after him as he was apparently quite an outdoorsman.

Post Run Tim Hortons lunch

Post-Run Tim Hortons lunch

To end this unnamed trail run… since this blog is really about running, not airports, taxi drivers, shopping, or wine…  After my “shopping spree” in Goose Bay, I ran back down the trail and ended at the aforementioned Tim Hortons for a well-deserved chicken noodle soup, a roll, a donut, and hot chocolate (yes, with whipped cream). How Canadian is that?

Baguette, formage et rosé

Baguette, formage et rosé

Oh and that evening I enjoyed my rosé wine with a nice fresh (although non-whole-wheat) baguette and cheese. Speaking of rosé wine, I just have to mention that I was completely blown away by the rosé wine selection in a liquor store in this small community… was it due to the sophistication of the inhabitants or visitors? Who knows, but I liked it!

In conclusion, I would highly recommend this bypass trail to any HV-GB visitor or local inhabitant. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the Goose Bay Airport folks for closing the runway and keeping safety in mind! In addition, I want to thank my host, Andrew, for allowing me to stay in his apartment while he too was caught up in the runway closure, over in St John’s.  My final thank you goes to Melinda the # one car driver in HV-GB!

The runway tar problem

The runway tar problem


I am a runner.

Posted in Destination Running, Food, Running, Touring, Tourism, Trails

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