Great Paradise | U24O Bikepacking Adventure


I’m always on the lookout for an interesting place to have an overnight adventure with my fat bike. On this trip I had to travel by boat.

In the province of Newfound and Labrador we have an intra-provincial ferry service that connects remote parts of the province to the “mainland” portion of the island. One evening I was checking out the routes and found one that looked rather interesting – Petite Forte to South East Bight. This 25 minute (9 km) voyage leaves the main part of the island crossing a section of Placentia Bay to land in the community of South East Bight. Further investigation revealed there was a trail leading from South East Bight to a more remote community called Great Paradise. I checked with my buddy to see if he was interested in another adventure . . . and a plan was born.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

According to the schedule for the Marine Coaster III, it departs Petite Forte at 10:00 AM on Saturday morning. This meant we needed to be on the road no later than 6:30 for the three hour drive to the dock. Due to some unexpected delays we never hit the road until it was closer to 7:00.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Being super conscious of the time I developed a Plan B and Plan C just in case we missed the ferry. When we turned off route Route 210 (Heritage Run) we had about another 30km to Petite Forte and about 40 minutes to get there. Things were going to be tight.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

As we made the last turn I could see the harbour, but nothing that resembled a ferry bobbing around in the water. We pulled up in front of the government dock around 9:50 and still no ferry. 

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Assuming that the Marine Coaster III was late leaving South East Bight, we off loaded the bikes and strapped on our camping gear. 20 minutes later there was still no sign of the ferry, so we tried calling the number on the sign. No cell service . . . excellent.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Hearing some people down at the other end of the harbour, we headed over to see if they knew what might be happening. As we approached the fishing stage a pickup truck pulled up. I spoke to the guy behind the wheel who confirmed that the ferry was supposed to leave Petite Forte (pronounced Petty Fort) at 10:00 and he suggested we speak to the Harbour Master to see why the boat was late.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

We tracked him down and he confirmed that the ferry was having some repairs done, but should be leaving South East Bight around 11:30. Having a little time before the arrival of the Marine Coaster III we explored the community of Petite Forte before heading back to the dock.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Sure enough, the ferry came into sight around 11:50 and tied up to the dock promptly at 12:00. A few passengers got off the vessel before we rolled our fatties aboard and tucked them safely into a corner.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Being the only two passengers aboard we had lots of vantage points from which to enjoy the ride. With the blue skies, warm breeze and calm seas we opted for an outside perch to watch the shore drift away. While we may not have broken any KOMs during the next 30 minutes, we certainly enjoyed the rugged coastline of our beautiful province.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

The Skipper of the Marine Coaster III slid up to the dock in South East Bight with hardly a bump. 

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

As the crane unloaded supplies we grabbed our bikes and pushed them across the gangplank. We were getting our bearings when I noticed the Captain getting off the ferry. Not wanting a crazy rush like we had this morning, I confirmed with him that we would be hitching a ride back on the 10:00 sailing tomorrow morning.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

The community of South East Bight was first settled in the 1830s by a group of courageous people involved with the fishery. Population numbers waxed and waned over time, but with a current population of around 80, this charming little community boasts a convenience store, post office, volunteer fire department and school.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

We decided on taking a spin through the community before heading off to find Great Paradise. Having no vehicular traffic we ran into a couple of ATVs which seemed to be the preferred mode of transportation for the residents. What I found really cool was the poured concrete roads that wound their way throughout the community.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Having done our exploring it was off to find the resettled fishing community of Great Paradise. The trail was not overly difficult to find once we dropped off the concrete blacktop. Guessing the road to be around 5 – 8 km I figured it would take us about an hour of riding time to get there.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

It wasn't long after when my stomach said it was time to eat. We had just started our ride and arrived at First Pond and I figured this was as good spot as any to have lunch.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

I dug out my meal of pre-cooked pasta and remembered that my spork was buried deep in my kitchen kit. Luckily there were plenty of branches nearby.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Having refueled, we hit the trail with renewed enthusiasm and thoroughly enjoyed the sunshine and warm temperatures as we tackled the remote dirt road.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Along the way we encountered several landmarks of interest, and stopped to take a break next to a little pond.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

As we passed the Little Paradise – Great Paradise intersection, I suggested that after we make camp we should come back and ride out to Little Paradise and take a look around. My buddy agreed.

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A few minutes later I noticed that my buddy had stopped riding. As I rolled up I saw him at his crank . . . he looked at me and gave his pedals a spin. His freehub died. While I do carry a selection of tools 
I had nothing that would even come close to fixing a freehub. Oh great.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Considering he had to push his bike the last kilometer or so to Great Paradise, 
I offered to take some of his gear to lighten the load. He declined and started trudging down the trail with me slowly creeping behind.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

As we rounded the turn I could see Great Paradise just off in the distance. Thankfully it was all downhill so my buddy could practically coast right into the resettled fishing community. As I rolled up next to him he had already picked a spot to pitch the tents . . . right on the side of a hill overlooking the harbour.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Not wasting any time we unloaded our bikes and set up camp. The mid-afternoon sun was still nice and warm and the slight breeze off the water kept the mosquitoes and black flies at bay. We sat for a spell and enjoyed the view.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom


Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Topping up our water bottles we headed out to explore Great Paradise. Right at the start it was obvious that even though the community had been resettled in the late 1960’s there was still a presence keeping the area alive.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

We ran into a couple of people who were there for the weekend working on their cabins and they told us about the cemetery that was just over the hill. Escorted by the local furry welcoming committee we headed out to the point.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

While the cemetery had seen better days, some of the headstones dated back to the late 1800’s. Many told the story of a tough existence, while others spoke more to a long and prosperous life.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Getting a little hungry we headed back to camp, collecting small twigs and sticks along the way. Wanting more of a sheltered location to light our stoves, we headed up to the leeward side of the community center where we cooked and ate our supper.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Winding down for the evening we went and retrieved our adult beverages that we had cooling in the ocean. Actually, a winning hand of rock-paper-scissors had me keeping my feet dry this time.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

We spent the reminder of the beautiful evening sat in front of our tents watching the sun set and enjoying a couple of cold ones. Topics of discussion were far reaching with some a little serious and more down right silly. When the sun set, it didn’t take me long to crawl into my sleeping bag and drift off to sleep.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

The next time I opened my eyes it was bright outside the tent. I opened the door and noticed that it was a little overcast, but the sun was chewing away at the gray foggy morning.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

I fired up the stove, boiling water for tea and a bowl of gourmet oatmeal that my wife had made for me the day before. It was delicious. I think I’m going to have this more often.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

As we were breaking down camp I once again offered to carry some of my buddy’s gear to lighten his load. I’m pretty sure that he was not looking forward to the long push-a-bike back to the ferry, but there was no other way. He declined my offer and strapped everything to his fattie. Being conscious of the time he decided to 
leave a little earlier, full knowing that I would most certainly catch up with him on the trail.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

I took my time loading up the Bigfoot, enjoying the morning sunshine, before I headed out the trail towards South East Bight.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

The ride back was pretty uneventful. At the top of every rise and coming out of every turn I was expecting to find my buddy walking or coasting his bike . . . but there was no sign of him. By the time I hit the concrete I was getting a little concerned.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

As I rolled up the the dock I saw that the ferry was there . . . and so was my buddy. He said that he made great time as he did a lot of coasting and less pushing than expected.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

We loaded our bikes aboard the Marine Coaster III and headed back to Petite Forte.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

After off loading the bikes we walked back to our vehicles and I checked the time . . . 10:45. Got this U24O done in well under 24 hours with an average speed of 7.7 kph and total distance of almost 34 km - that included the ferry ride.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom

While my riding time was less than other bikepacking trips, that did not impact the fun in any way. This was one adventure I really enjoyed.

Fatbike Republic Fat Bike U24O Bikepacking Bike Camping Adventure Overlanding Great Paradise Petite Forte Newfoundland Norco Bigfoot Gaia Axiom


RIDE FAT !





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