The Fundy Trail Parkway is a growing network of trails and roads along. New Brunswick’s Fundy Coast allowing visitors to experience a UNESCO-listed Biosphere in a day-trip from Saint John.
Although we’ve been living in our motorhome, Yeti, since April, we hadn’t been out camping in her beyond our current home-base in Saint John. We wanted to take her out for a test run, to stretch her legs (er, wheels?) before we hit the road on a longer excursion. We opted for a two-night stay in the village of St. Martins, 40km from Saint John, on the stunning Fundy coast of New Brunswick, Canada.
Other than the proximity to home, we chose St. Martins so we could explore the Fundy Trail Parkway, a natural playground of hiking, biking, and driving trails hugging the rugged Fundy coast. The Fundy Trail is the ultimate Canadian slow travel adventure, bringing visitors in close contact with wildlife, local history and culture, and, of course, stunning natural beauty.
The Fundy Trail Parkway began as a dream of several of the area’s residents. The first phase opened in 1998, through private investment, and is operated by the non-profit Fundy Trail Development Authority. The trail continues to grow and expand, through private and government funding, and, by 2018 will reach its final destination, Fundy National Park and the iconic Hopewell Rocks.
The parkland containing the Parkway encompasses 2,559-hectares. At the moment, the road stretches for 19km through the UNESCO-listed Fundy Biosphere Reserve. This diverse ecosystem includes sandy beaches, pristine rivers, 600 million-year-old rock formations, and even a 15-metre waterfall. The Fundy Trail Parkway is accessible to all vehicles so we were eager to take Yeti for a spin through the park.
Driving speeds are restricted to protect wildlife (we spotted deer and seals during our visit), but also so you can slow down and enjoy the views. Of course, the best way to enjoy the scenery is to stop at the 23 lookouts dotted along the Parkway. Many of the lookouts include picnic tables for a breathtaking alfresco dining experience.
You can also leave your vehicle at one of the many designated parking areas and hop on the footpath. There are a number of short trails leading to specific sites like the Sea Captains’ Burial Ground, Hearst Lodge and Fuller Falls. Alternatively, you can hike or bike part of the multi-use trail that follows the coastline beside the roadway.
We were eager to explore the newest section of the Fundy Trail Parkway that extends past the Interpretive Centre. (Be sure to stop in and watch the short video about the development of the park.) The new section, opened this year, extends to the gorgeous Long Beach, so named because it stretches 2.5km. It seemed like the perfect spot for a Canada Day picnic and a walk along our favourite coast.
By the time we finished our lunch, the tide was on its way out. It drops 500m here, allowing us to walk on the soft red sand of Fundy’s ocean floor. This is one of the prettiest beaches we’ve visited in New Brunswick and, with so much coastline here; that is high praise indeed.
We also couldn’t resist a quick stop to hike down the cable stairway to check out Fuller Falls. It was worth the burning thighs for the up-close-and-personal look at this beautiful waterfall.
Although we spent the bulk of our time enjoying Long Beach, there are plenty of ways to occupy yourself in the Fundy Trail Parkway. There are guided tours available to some the park’s highlights, you can kayak the Salmon River and the Bay, take in the view from the suspension bridge, or check out the summer concert series every Sunday.
For the adventurous, the Fundy Trail joins up with the Fundy Footpath, a challenging 41km, 3-4-day hike from Big Salmon River to Fundy National Park. (All hikers must register and pay an access fee.) The Fundy Trail is also part of the Trans-Canada Trail, the world’s longest recreational trail network which, when completed, will stretch 24,000km, joining the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans. The Trans Canada Trail is roughly 86% complete and is slated to be finished for Canada’s 150th birthday next year. Now that is a hike!
An adult day-pass to the Fundy Trail Park is only $7.50 ($6.50 for seniors, $5 for youth, or $23 for a family). You can also buy 5-day or season passes. These very reasonable fees go straight back into staffing, maintaining, and growing the park. We couldn’t help remarking on both how spotless the park is and also how friendly and helpful all of the park staff is.
The Fundy Coast is truly the gem of Atlantic Canada, and the Fundy Trail Parkway is an incredible way to experience it from all angles. We can’t wait to watch it reach completion.