This was a response to an e-mail I received asking about my top 5 picks for hiking areas in the province. This is what I wrote back and I thought I would share it with you. Fundy National Park should be on the list but it was left off because the person was already familiar with its trails.
It was hard for me to narrow down the list to only five areas but I would recommend the following:
1. Grand Manan Island – I think there must be more trails than roads on the island. The main Lighthouse Trail starts at Swallowtail Lighthouse and circles the island mostly on the north and west sides. Following the trail along the cliff edges, mixed with trails accessing the rocky beaches, provide many beautiful views. The geology of the island is also fascinating from the Flock of Sheep ( large white boulders dropped onto black volcanic spires by glaciers) to the rocky cliffs of Seven Days Work along the Whale to Whistle section of the Lighthouse Trail. The island is geologically split in two.
2. The Fundy Trail Parkway in St. Martins – we visited this area for the first time last fall. Its a beautiful stretch of shoreline intermingled with long beaches. Most of the trails are small with interesting features. The main trail through the park offer many spectacular views of the Bay of Fundy from the top of the hill. For a more of a wilderness hike try the hike up the deep cut valley of Big Salmon River to Hearst Lodge or try some of the Fundy Footpath.
3. Kouchibouguac Park – most of the trails in the park are short but have different features. There are also many longer bike trails throughout the park that provide good walking. The best place to hike is along the boardwalk and long sand dunes that make up Kelly’s Beach. There is 6 km of beach along the Northumberland Strait. There is also a seal colony that hangs out off the end of the dune.
4. Mount Carleton Park – now to get away from the coast this park is in the wilderness of the north-west. The Mount Carleton Trail makes a great beginner hike for Mountains with some rock scrambles and the trail along the ledge leading to the peak. At the peak you can see lakes and forest in every direction from the replica fire tower. The Mount Sagamook Trail also has some magnificent views and rocky outcrops that overlook lakes and a unique heart shaped island.
5. Daly Point Nature Reserve in Bathurst – this park has several interesting trails with some boardwalks through a salt marsh on the edge of Bathurst Bay. On our first trip we found out quickly that the chickadees on the Warbler Trail are very friendly. When you hold your hand out they will land on it looking for seeds. You can get seeds through a small donation at the visitor center.
That is my top 5 for now. If you ask me again next week you may get a different list since there are so many great trails in the province. Others that probably should make the list include Cape Jourimain (coastal views, salt marshes, lighthouse and confederation bridge), Falls Brook Falls in Boiestown (largest falls in the province), Sugarloaf Mountain in Campbelton (a short steep hike overlooking the City, Bay de Chaleur, Gaspe Peninsula), the back trails along the ravine edge at French Fort Cove in Miramichi, the coastline and mud flats surrounding Irving Nature Park in Saint John, and on and on…