Our two day trip to Walton Glen Gorge and the Fundy Footpath was several firsts for Vicki and I. It was our first time on either trail. It was also our first overnight hike (that may be hard to believe since we have a hiking website). It was an amazing adventure and it left us with wanting to do it all again. Within a week we were shopping for ultralight equipment and planning our next trip to the Footpath.
We left one of our cars at the interpretive center at the Fundy Trail Parkway and drove to Sussex. We then drove south into the woods, past Adair’s Wilderness Lodge, and as far as we could with our Honda Civic. We ended up on the McCumber Brook Road not far from the entrance to the ATV trail that would take us to the Gorge. We found a small open area near the road. It was now dark but it looked like a good place to pitch the tent. We realized that it was a pretty swampy area when a bullfrog tried to jump in our tent. We listened to this single bullfrog croak as we dozed off to sleep.
Our kids usually don’t let us get any sleep so we enjoyed sleeping in. We were on the trail to the Gorge lookout by 10:30. We found the lookout without too much trouble and were amazed by the view. We looked across at the tall falls on the opposite cliff face and tried to see the bay of fundy by looking down the gorge. We explored the cliff top, being cautious in the slippery black mud and bushes.
No matter how many pictures you see of a place it is always 10 times better in real life. We felt that way at the Grand Canyon in Arizona and we felt that way at this “Grand Canyon” of New Brunswick. I believe that the difference between pictures of a place and the actually experience is the magic.
After we enjoyed the view we found the trail down into the gorge by keeping right. We kept so right that we first looped back to the lookout. We tried again and didn’t stay as far right. We soon came to the trail down into the gorge.
The trail down into the gorge was steep and a bit treacherous. The trail down through the gorge was more treacherous, especially next to the waterfall on the main stream. Throughout the gorge there was a mix of walking in the stream and walking on the steep banks next to the stream. We constantly switched between our water shoes and boots.
We made our way to the Eye of the Needle and were fascinated the whole way. The water in the Eye of the Needle was just up to the bottom of our shorts so we got through without getting our packs wet. We soon came out to the Little Salmon River. The river was wider but the coarse gravel made it hard to walk in our water shoes. We talked about investing in some water shoes with thicker soles. The rocky cliffs along the edge of the river made beautiful scenery. We met a family who was fishing in the river. They were camping at the Little Salmon River campsite on the Fundy Footpath. As we talked they caught a small trout from the brook. They said we were good luck since it was their first bite all day.
We made our way across the tidal zone at the mouth of Little Salmon River and rested on a log where the Fundy Footpath enters the woods. The steady climb up out of the river valley was strenuous to say the least. I later heard it called heart attack hill. I can appreciate the nickname. This is where we began to realize that we had packed too much in our heavy packs. A hard way to learn.
After reaching the top of the hill the trail remained fairly flat until it dipped into the valley that holds Cradle Brook. We were planning on reaching the Seely Beach campsite but we didn’t have enough energy left to make it up out of the valley. We had a big day and it was time to put up the tent.
At 2 or 3 am we heard rain hitting the tent. We thought nothing of it and went back to sleep, happy that our little tent was keeping the water out. About half an hour later Vicki asked why the rain was only falling on one side of the tent. This thought made me sit straight up, or as straight up as I could manage in our small tent. We both realized at the same time that it was not rain we were hearing.
Thoughts of bears or other large animals raced through our heads. I bravely stuck my head out of the tent with the flashlight, all the time thinking that I may come face to face with a bear. I looked into the surrounding woods as deeply as possible but saw nothing. Before climbing back in the tent I shined the light down at the ground near the tent. What I saw looking back at me was a curious mouse.
We pulled our packs into the small tent and tried to sleep. The mouse actually climbed up on the screen and looked in at us. We had hung all of our food up in a tree further down the trail but I had forgotten a small bag of trail mix in the bottom of my pack. Even though the seal was never broken on the bag this mouse had found it. The sound of rain was him tearing the bag open. The sound echoed off of the alcove of the tent making it sound like rain. Lesson learned.
The next day we started our hike by climbing the large cable staircase up out of the Cradle Brook Valley. We climbed several more before reaching a small meadow. We thought we might be at the top of the hill but soon noticed the cliff face above. We knew that we would have to climb up and over it.
After the climb up above the cliff the trail was relatively flat until the descent down to Seely Beach. Seely Beach was probably our favorite part of this section of the Fundy Footpath. It had an amazing campsite near the beach that was much nicer than Cradle Brook. From the beach you could look back along the rugged coastline. It was so nice that we vowed to return and camp sometime in the future.
The next section of trail passed several interesting rock features including Dragon’s Tooth. Eventually the trail came out of the woods to follow the new road being built. There was lots of development around Long Beach and the trail was rerouted but well signed.
The trail was relatively flat for the next section but became increasingly treacherous as we turned the corner and could see the Interpretive Center at the Fundy Trail Parkway. At this point our heavy packs felt like lead and our feet were quite sore. We were glad to see the car in the parking lot across the river. We wished we could just walk directly to the car across the river but we had to continue on to the walking bridge. When we reached the car we threw our packs into the trunk and collapsed into the seats.
On our drive back to pick up the other car we agreed that it was an amazing adventure. Even though we were exhausted we would have loved to continue hiking. We vowed to return next year to hike more of the Footpath, maybe even all of it.