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Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Newfoundland, Canada

By Amy Rezek in Newfoundland 1217 views 18th Sep, 2023 Video Duration: N/A   Portugal Cove South, NL A0A 4B0, Canada

Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve

UNESCO World Heritage Site, Newfoundland, Canada

This past June I took a roadtrip to the southeastern tip of the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland to visit the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Newfoundland, Canada. To visit the Reverse you book a guided tour at the Edge of Avalon Interpretation Centre in Portugal Cove South. If you want to explore the area, there are public hikes and trailways, but access to view and walk on the fossils requires a permit with a registered guide.

Fossil Hiking Tours and Guides at Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve

The fossils you discover at Mistaken Point are the world's oldest and largest collection of biologically complex marine life fossils. These fossils from the Ediacaran period are perfectly preserved on a prehistoric ocean floor. This area has over 10,000 fossils. When you arrive you actually get to walk in your sock feet on a 565-million year old ocean floor - it was incredible! The fossils were known to the local communities for many generations, but it wasn't until 1967 when Shiva Balak Misra discovered them and knew their significance, that protection for the fossils begin to start.

Explorer Shiva Balak Misra

He was in the area mapping Precambrian rocks along the coastline. In the years to follow there were people lobbied to preserve the fossils for their historical significance as this was the first record of Ediacaran fauna in the Western Hemisphere. In 1987 it was designated as a fossil ecological reserve. In July of 2016 it was further designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Irish Loop on Avalon Peninsula

This area of the Avalon Peninsula is part of a road trip known as the Irish Loop (Route NL-10). It is just over two (2) hours from St. John's. The location of the guided hike requires you to drive about 15 minutes from the Interpretation Centre to a designated parking lot which is equipped with washrooms.

Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve Guided Tours

The guided tour teaches you about the local flora and fauna, along with the historical significance of the area. The total hike is about six kilometres and takes about 3-4 hours, depending on how long you want to stay and explore the fossils. Sections of the trail were muddy and it is rated moderately difficult, but I would rate it moderate. It is important to dress in layers as this area of the province is generally foggy and this close to the tip of the Peninsula the wind can certainly gust, although it was beautiful on the day we got to explore. Overall, I would recommend making time to visit this historically significant area of Newfoundland, and the world.

Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Newfoundland, Canada

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