New Brunswick has no shortage of natural parks and wonders. One of the highlights of any trip here are excursions near and on the Bay of Fundy. My Maritime travels brought me to Fundy Trail Parkway one morning, where I was given a tour of the highlights of this Stonehammer Geopark (mentioned earlier in my New Brunswick Museum article).
Geology buffs will be interested to know that rock outcrops along the Fundy Trail Parkway expose both Precambrian and Cambrian rocks near the bridge at Big Salmon River, as well as Triassic age rocks along the coast to the west. This unique spot unravels about 400 million years of Earth’s history.
The park has numerous hiking trails, a suspension bridge, interpretation centre, picnic tables, look out points, and enough flora and fauna to satisfy any nature lover. The Fundy Footpath is a series of walks raging in length and difficulty from 1 km to 41 km (to Fundy National Park).
Serious hikers can do the entire stretch in three nights and four days, depending on tides, as certain crossings have to be timed to skip over small islands.
The footpath is rugged and winds up and down with elevations from 0 to 300 metres across a dozen ravines. The coastal wilderness here is one of the few remaining stretches between Florida and Labrador to enjoy unspoiled nature and views.
This park is also listed in the Fundy Biosphere Reserve’s Amazing Places to Discover. This is a community-based initiative created to preserve and enhance the region through research and best practices. There’s even a QR code onsite to give visitors added information on the spot.
There are plans to extend the park to make it easier to access the beaches without heading back inland and out again. Last year, there was a global campaign to declare Fundy Trail Parkway the top 7 Natural Wonders of the World.
In the 1920′s, this area was used as a sawmill with sluices bringing down the logs out to the Big Salmon River. Over 20 families lived along the river. This was considered at one point to be a great fishermen’s river for salmon, hence the name. There are ongoing studies to try and understand why the Atlantic salmon have all but disappeared from this river. Two main considerations are overfishing off the coast of Greenland and natural fish cycles.
An optional tour is to visit Hearst Lodge in surroundings much like the time that William Randolph Hearst and friends enjoyed it over 50 years ago. There are evening interpretive programs available as well as guided hiking, biking, and kayaking in the area.
We visited the Heritage Sawmill with a work area nearby containing some very old mill equipment, 1920′s photography lining the walls of a recreated sawmill, and a specially-created video of life along the river culled from old photos and a few seconds of antiquated reels of footage.
Afterwards, we visited a couple of small sea captain burial sites in a quiet, wooded area off the drive. The Fownes and Melvin families were shipbuilders and farmers and built 32 ships between 1820 and 1864.
The Fundy Trail Parkway is open from 6 am to 8 pm and the operating season runs from mid-May (Victoria Day weekend) to mid-October (Thanksgiving Day). Admission is $4.50 for adults, $4.00 for seniors, and $3.00 for children 12 and under. There’s also a family package for two adults and two children under 18 priced at $16.00. This makes for a very affordable experience through natural beauty!
Visit the website for detailed information, Hearst Lodge accommodations, group rates and special events.
The Fundy Trail Parkway is located at 229 Main Street in St. Martins, New Brunswick.
My tour of Fundy Trail Parkway was courtesy of Tourism New Brunswick.