|Distance||5.3 km one way|
|Estimated Time||3 hrs 30 mins|
|Elevation Change||94 meters|
|Features||cliffs, waterfalls, beaches|
|Trail Markers||red markers|
|Maintenance Rating||well maintained|
Whale Cove is a crescent shaped beach made up of cobblestone sized rocks. The rocks are photogenic but are difficult to walk on. The trail starts by crossing a small field with cottages along the far side of the field. The field provides open views of the bay. Past the field the trail goes into the woods. After a short distance you will come to a small clearing with a bench, lookout and trees filled with colorful buoys. Just past the lookout there is a small trail that turns to the left to access some of the cottages further up the hill. Continue straight for another 150 meters. At this point the trail takes a sharp left and climbs the hill. It looks like the trail continues straight but this is an old section of trail that is no longer used that crosses private properties. If you come to a cottage you have gone too far. After climbing the hill, through an area that is quite open, you will come to a lane. Turn right on the lane and travel for 150 meters. You should see the trail go into the woods to the left before you start to go down the hill towards another cottage. Further along the trail there are several lookouts that open up to show the rocky cliffs and the beach below. One of the lookouts provides views of a waterfall that falls from the cliffs to the beach below. The trail eventually crosses the stream that feeds the waterfall.
The trail continues along the cliff tops until you come to a bench at a lookout. From the lookout you can see a long stretch of cliffs and a point. The long stretch of cliffs are what's known as the Seven Days Work formation. The point is Ashburton Head. The Seven Days Work cliffs show seven different rock strata. It is said that it took god seven days to create the cliffs instead of the six it took to create the world. The trail continues along the cliff tops along the Seven Days Work formation. There are several small tenting sites at the cliff edge past a private residence. After a short distance there is a trail junction. Going to the right will take you down to Eel Brook Beach. Going left takes you to Eel Brook Falls and onward to the Whistle Lighthouse.
The trail down to Eel Brook Beach is steep in places. There is a small knoll part way down to the beach. There is a camping area with a small, unique A-frame cabin, and outhouse on the knoll along with a platform for tenting. A bench on the knoll overlooking the beach is dedicated to "James E. Parker and June E. Parker who loved to camp on this knoll - Built by Allison Naves". From the knoll the trail drops down some makeshift stairs to a stream that flows through the rocks to the ocean. Eel Brook Beach provides many views of Seven Days Work and Ashburton Head. Part way down the beach the rocks are green with seaweed and algae from being covered with water at high tide.
Continuing from the trail junction to the left will take you through some old fields to a second junction. Continuing straight will take you to Whistle Road while turning right will take you to Eel Brook Falls. Shortly after the junction the trail crosses a stream at the top of Eel Brook Falls. The trail continues past the falls for a short distance then meets an old road. Going left on the old road will take you to Whistle Road. The trail follows the old road to the right for a short distance then leaves the road on the right. The trail has several lookouts on the way to Ashburton Head. The lookouts provide views of Seven Days Work and Eel Brook Beach. Most of Ashburton Head is covered in young trees as a result of a fire that swept through the area in 1985. You can still see signs of the fire on stumps and logs. There is a small side trail on the right to the main Ashburton Head Lookout.
The trail continues past Ashburton Head and becomes more treacherous and challenging. There are several steep sections, and sections that come close to the cliff edge. You will eventually come to several lookouts that provide views of The Bishop. The Bishop is a rocky pinnacle that forms a point. The trail eventually comes to an access trail that will take you to the grassy top of The Bishop. The trail continues past The Bishop with views back at the rocky coastline. The trail then enters the woods away from the cliff edge and eventually emerges from the woods at the Whistle Lighthouse.
If you are continuing to hike the Lighthouse Trail from the Swallowtail Lighthouse to Whale Cove section you will need to cross Whale Cove Beach to get to this section of trail. The beach is rocky and the cobblestone sized rock make it difficult to walk on so use caution. If you are continuing to hike the Lighthouse Trail from the Whistle Lighthouse to Dark Harbour section you will need to get to the Whistle Lighthouse (official name is Long Eddy Point Lighthouse) by climbing up the Whistle Road. At the lighthouse you will see a helicopter pad on the right. The trail enters the woods behind this platform.
If you are accessing just this section of trail there are several ways to do it. From the Ferry Terminal turn left on Pettes Cove Road (Route 776) towards Grand Harbour. Travel west for 1.2 km and turn right onto Whale Cove Road. After 850 meters you will come to Johnston Lane. Turn right on Johnston Lane and shortly after you will come to a cement boat launch. There should be enough space to park just before the dock. The trail starts by crossing the field on the left of the dock just above the beach.
An alternative way to access the far end of Whale Cove Beach is on Cemetery Lane behind the Anglican Church in North Head. Please park at the church and hike in from there. The lane is narrow and ends in a private driveway. You will then have to cross the rocky beach to get to the trail head.
There are many lanes to cottages that provide access to the trail from Whistle Road but the next main access is on either side of Eel Brook on Whistle Road. To get there turn right onto Whistle Road at Tattons Corner (just after Whale Cove Road). Travel 3.5 km on Whistle Road and you will cross Eel Brook. Just before this there is a small dirt road on your right. The trail to Eel Brook Beach starts from this road and is marked with blue trail markers. Just past Eel Brook on Whistle Road there is a small parking lot. The trail (old road) to Ashburton Head starts at this parking lot.
Trail Last Hiked: March 31, 2021.
Page Last Updated: September 11, 2021.