I didn’t get to hike the whole Dobson Trail. The whole trail is 58 km and would take several days, all the way from Riverview to Fundy National Park. I had a couple hours to spare following a drama festival at a school in Riverview so I decided to see how far I could get. I stopped at the Radical Edge in Fredericton earlier that morning to pick up the “On Foot to Fundy” guidebook to the Dobson. I got so excited about it that I also bought the “Fundy Foothpath” hiker’s guide for future use. I explored the beautiful, waterproof maps that were included with the guides several times throughout the day. After another wonderful drama festival I made my way to the first parking lot on Pine Glen Road.
I have always loved the idea of a trail in your backyard, that if followed for long enough, would lead you to a National Park full of trails, and to the rest of the world beyond. It reminds me of playing in the woods as a child and knowing that there was a much larger world beyond the small patch of woods where we played. The Dobson starts in the backyard of the people who live in Riverview. It links the Town or Riverview with Fundy National Park both physically and conceptually.
My introduction to the Dobson was a bit of a surprise. In my head I had a vision of remote wilderness. In reality there are many signs of human influence when you start the Dobson. From the bird feeding stations, to the many plaques and signs, to the guide wire for visually impaired hikers, to the dog monument and the remnants of what looked to be a giant innukshuk, the start of the Dobson seemed to have lots going on. There was also lots of people including two young women from Nova Scotia who figured I might be someone who knows something about hiking trails after noticing my Hiking NB magnet on the car. I was also later surprised to see a baby in a big wheeled stroller returning from the 2 km mark. I felt a bit out of place without a dog since there were as many dogs on the trail as there were people. I think I now better understood what drives the online debate about dogs on the trail. After adjusting my pre-conceived notions about the trail, I explored all the different artifacts, said hello to most of the other people, and even pet the occasional friendly dog.
The trail made its way slowly along the meandering Mill Creek. I had many opportunities to take pictures of the stream, which still had large chunks of ice along the edge. The trail crossed a large powerline that seemed to be a barrier for most of the people to cross. You could see the influence of ATV’s along a road on the powerline but the trail was sufficiently blocked on either side so there was no ATV damage on the trail.
The trail continued along the creek and I soon passed the 1 km marker. Soon after the trail crossed another powerline. There was no longer any of the signs of human intervention other than the trail blazes and intermittent camping areas with fire pits along the stream. I soon passed the 2 km marker and the aforementioned man with the baby. There was still enough ice on the trail to make the stroller maneuverable.
Eventually the trail turned from crushed rock into a forested trail of roots, mud and ice. When I reached the bridge over Bryden Brook there was a young couple laying on the bridge trying to take a picture of themselves while hanging their head over the bridge so they could get the stream in the photo. I thought this was an interesting perspective that I would have to try sometime. After talking to them a bit about the trail I continued on my way.
I was now set on making it to the 4 km mark. After Bryden Bridge the trail climbs up on a ridge and travels more through the woods back away from the stream. I reached the 4 km mark and noticed that with each km marker there was a noticeable difference in how much traffic the trail received. I wondered if this was simply something that I perceived or if the majority of people using the trail used the km markers as a turning point.
After a short bout of regret for not being able to continue on the trail I turned and started back the way I came, leaving the other 54 km of the trail for another day.
To learn more about the Dobson trail go to Dobson Trail
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