Ever since I started developing Hiking NB my father has been telling me that I should explore the Crown Reserve trails along rivers and streams that salmon fisherman use to access fishing pools. He is an avid salmon fisherman and worked in the woods north of the Miramichi for most of his career. A couple of Saturdays ago my daughter wanted to go geocaching, and while I was planning a return to Sheephouse Falls my father mentioned some Crown Reserve Trails on the way. Now that I have hiked most of the other trails in the area I decided it was worth a try. I loaded up the GPS with some geocaches near the Crown Reserve and my son, my daughter and I were off.
We drove for 15-20 minutes north of Miramichi City on the Chaplin Island Road until we came to the bridge in Wayerton. When crossing the bridge we realized that one of the geocaches was somewhere under the bridge. We decided to continue on to the Crown Reserve and find the geocache on our way back.
After a short drive on the Fraser Burchill Road we saw the yellow signs showing the Crown Reserve in either direction. We decided to check out the Cruickshank Crown Reserve since it was the one my father told me had a waterfall. We drove down a road that was well maintained until we came within view of the Cruickshank Camp. At this point I decided it was getting too rocky to risk the bottom of my Honda Civic. We parked and continued on to the camp on foot.
In front of the camp there was a steep cliff down into the ravine that holds the North Sevogle Stream. Just to the left and almost directly in front of the camp was a long, steep staircase that led down to the rocky shore. It was so steep that I stayed close to the kids as we descended the stairs. When we got to the bottom the kids threw some rocks in the stream. We made our way down stream towards towards where my father told me we would find the waterfall. The shore got narrower and soon we couldn’t go any further without either wading in the stream or hanging off of the cliffs along the side. With the kids either way meant meant getting wet. We made our way back up the stairs and explored around the camp for other signs of trails.
We found one trail near the road that traveled up stream. I sent my son to see if there was another trail that traveled downstream. He found one just behind the camp. I still wanted to find the waterfall so I chose downstream.
We started down the trail and soon were rewarded by several views down into the steep ravine from the cliff top. There were what remained of benches made out of logs at each lookout but they were no longer functional. At one of the lookouts we could hear the sound of the water below getting louder. From the height of the trail and with the bushes blocking the view it was hard to figure confirm whether this was a waterfall or just a set of rapids. We could see a rocky outcrop on the other side with a bench on the top. After watching a youtube video I now think it was the Cruickshank pool. Now I have to figure out how to get to the other side.
The trail eventually descended downhill towards the stream. The trail came close to the stream near a bend in the stream and you could see down the stream for quite a distance. My father had told me that the waterfall was down around this turn but it looked like it opened up and flattened out. I turned around when I heard something make a noise in the bushes next to my son. I caught a glimpse of partridge just behind a small bush. The kids were able to see if before it flew. My son was pretty excited since it was the first partridge he had ever seen. He said it looked nothing like a rooster!
The trail climbed a small hill and then came out on a forestry road. I wanted to see if the trail continued further down the road but it was getting late so we had to get back. We figured the road would be easier walking. I thought I knew how it looped back towards the car but it was much less direct than I expected. At about the halfway mark my daughter was startled by almost stepping on a large garter snake. She said she thought it was a stick until she saw that it had eyes. The kids were fascinated by it. I got a few pictures before it got bored with us and slithered into the grass along the road. My son followed it until he couldn’t see it anymore.
We eventually made it back to the car. We then drove to a bridge upstream where there was another geocache. Once we realized it would mean more walking we decided against it. We returned to the Wayerton Bridge to find the geocache we had passed earlier. After some searching, and many quizzical looks from the salmon fishermen below the bridge, we found the geocache. It was full of old rusty fishing hooks but when geocaching with kids everything is treasure. We left a small rubber ball in the bag with the fish hooks and then drove home. We would have to leave the rest of the Crown Reserve Trails to explore another day.