The Avalon Wilderness Reserve is 1,070 sq km (413 sq mi) of barrens and forests. It protects the Avalon woodland caribou herd, the most southerly caribou herd in Canada. The survival of this herd is a North American conservation success story. The herd had dwindled to only a few dozen animals by the early 1960s, but it rose to a high of six to seven thousand animals in the early 1990s. In 1998, it numbered almost two thousand animals.
A rolling plateau, the area is dotted with boulders that were left behind by melting glaciers more than 10,000 years ago.
This wilderness environment with its landscape of barrens, ponds, rivers, bogs, small forests, and thickets makes the Avalon Wilderness Reserve an excellent place for hiking, canoeing, skiing, angling, hunting, bird and wildlife watching, photography, and wilderness camping. The reserve protects a representative portion of the Maritime Barrens-Southeastern Barrens subregion.
The Avalon Wilderness Reserve contains prime habitat for waterfowl, pitcher plants (the Province's floral emblem) and—in the woods—lichen known as "old man's beard." In addition to the caribou herd, the wildlife you might encounter there include moose, willow ptarmigan (known locally as "partridge"), and in the rivers, brook and brown trout, smelt, and landlocked salmon. Six scheduled salmon rivers have part or all of their drainage systems in the reserve—the Renews, Biscay Bay, Peter's, North Arm and Salmonier Rivers, and Northwest Brook.
The reserve is a wilderness—there are no facilities, amenities, trail markers, or public buildings within its borders. However, there is a dirt-road network and a series of hydro dams and dykes belonging to Newfoundland Light and Power that predates the establishment of the reserve.
The climate is "marine"—winters are mild, summers are cool. Strong winds, high humidity, and rainfall are typical, and there is often heavy fog.
Use the following guidelines when preparing for your visit:
- obtain an entry permit
- let someone know your route and expected time of return
- travel light and leave no trace of your passage
- carefully plan your clothing, footwear, and equipment
- take a compass and appropriate 1:50,000 topographic maps
- read and abide by the rules and regulations
Note that if you take a cell-phone, coverage will be spotty—though it is possible to make calls from some hilltops.
One of the oldest protected areas in the province, this reserve was established as the Avalon Wilderness Area in 1964 under the Wildlife Act, and designated a Wilderness Reserve in 1986 under the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Act.
While in the Avalon Wilderness Reserve, be sure to abide by the following regulations:
- Carry your entry permit (and other applicable permits) with you while in the reserve.
- Camping in one location is restricted to a maximum of 10 days.
- Pack out everything you bring in, including cans, glass, and other refuse.
- Snowmobiling is not permitted in the reserve.
- Keep dogs and horses under control at all times when in the reserve.
- Outboard motors are restricted to Cape, Mount Carmel, Franks, Bloody, Blackwood, and Southwest Ponds or other ponds accessible by road and must not exceed 6 hp.
- The use of ATVs for game retrieval is not allowed in the reserve.
- Aircraft must fly above 300 m, except during take-off and landing.
- During some seasons, open fires may be prohibited. Contact your local office of the Department of Natural Resources to determine if open fires are permitted. Completely extinguish fires before leaving.