The great gift of Fundy National Park is the sheer variety of ecosystems contained in one National Park package. The variety of hiking trails reflects this diversity. There are over 100 kilometers of them to explore. What makes Fundy special, compared to other parks, is the proximity of the trails to the campsites. You do not have to travel very far to reach any of the trails. Over the years, the trails we chose reflected the abilities of family members. When little legs had to trot along, we chose shorter trails with an interesting payoff, like a small waterfall or a beaver dam. Dickson Falls and MacLaren Pond would be examples. As those legs grew longer, but attention spans seemed a little short, we would negotiate. During the mornings, we would hike for an hour or two and in the afternoon, we would go to the playground, swim in the pool, play games, go to Alma for a sticky bun. In later years an hour or allow two on their handheld video games might be the post-hike pleasure.
The fourth generation is introduced to the saltwater pool by her grandmother (me) after some hiking in her baby trail-carrier. Loved the pool toys. Hated the cold water.
Many trails are between one or two hours. You can cover a lot of ground in two hours of hiking. In Fundy that may mean starting at a tidal pool and ending up on a mountain. We have hiked most of the trails and all are worth a trek. There are a few that are special to us because they combine beauty, intersecting ecosystems and local stories of bygone eras.
This trail is a 4.4 km loop that will take about 1.5 hours. It will take you through deep, green forest. Much of the trail is coastal so you get breathtaking views. Benches are periodically perched along the edge. Take the time to sit and periodically ponder. Some of the trail is old road that led to the copper mine. Eventually, the trail will take you to the old, caved-in entrance to a played-out copper mine. Years ago, there was old mining equipment scattered about which our sons loved to investigate. In these latter years of anxious lawyering, these have been removed, although some interpretive panels explain the significance of the mine.
One of our camping rituals was to find the sign that said “Matthew’s head” and take a picture of our son Matthew underneath, pointing to his head. Besides this happy naming coincidence, the Matthew’s head trail is a wonderful trip that begins with a path through old homesteads and farmland. It is a 4.5 km trail that will take most hikers about 1.5 hours. There is an old foundation that has a riot of rhubarb growing around it, interspersed with once-domestic flowers that someone planted a hundred years ago to cheer their days. Once you make your way through the fields, the trail moves into wooded areas and coastal paths. A fantastic fern forest greets you at one point. If you want a beach experience, you can go from Matthew’s Head to Herring Cove beach. Fun fact: when I was a girl, there were government run stables at Matthew’s Head where you could get trail rides on horses. We did this a number of times as children. I suspect our parents were grateful to get some “adult” time for those two hours. There was something quite magical about travelling those old settler trails on the back of a horse. I had one that almost bucked me off when it saw a porcupine mid-way up an adjacent tree.
This hike tends to be popular. It is 5km and will take about 2.5 hours. The Park rates it as moderate. It can be a little rugged in spots and there is a fair amount of ascending and descending which can be problematic for folks with knee problems. However, your reward is the lovely falls at the end of the trail. On a hot summer day, you can jump in its very cool, refreshing water, so bring a swimsuit or amphibious hiking apparel. There are two levels to the falls, so don’t get there and think you are done. If you go a little higher, you not only see some lovely white water, you also get a great view of the river. I think every time we hike this one, we are surprised at the number of unhappy young women limping along in flip flops despite signs warning of the rigors of some parts of the trail.
Third Vault Falls
This hike at 7.4 km return trip at about 3.5 hours is rated as “difficult” and it is, in spots. At one point we were climbing flat rock face, which, with small Jack Russells in tow, is no mean feat. We attempted this one for the first time in 2016 with our son and his husband. We loved it. Lots of riverside trekking, rugged forest floors, great diversity of tree species and much bedrock. Carl, the geotechnical engineer found the riverbed and bedrock fascinating. Of course, at the end of the trail, the spectacular Third Vault Falls is the great gift. Again, take the time to climb a little higher and you will be rewarded with a wonderful view of the river
Taking a break at the top of Third Vault falls
Fundy has a lot of lovely abandoned roads and ghost villages of ancient hostels and tiny tourist cottages. In the sixties when the nation’s youth were wandering about finding themselves, a youth hostel came in handy. Only the rubble of the foundations of the youth hostels exist now. The road to the hostel begins opposite the golf course. We call this the “Emerald Road” because the asphalt has been colonized by moss, so you find yourself climbing through a tunnel of green, with a canopy of overgrown tree branches above and soft moss below. It is breath-taking. Carl says it is lovey to jog on early in the morning. The air, he says, is absolutely saturated with oxygen. The preponderance of bear scat can be a little unnerving. I tell myself that Atlantic Canadian bears are small and shy. When you take these little unscripted hikes, you can meet some interesting people. We came upon university students counting fish from the river that meanders alongside the golf course in parts and were able to ask them a few questions about their research. We often forget that National Parks are places where ground-breaking research of our natural world takes place.
Scientific researchers taking a break from fish counting
Note: another post about fascinating tide walks will be forthcoming.
Caribou Plain: 2.1 km loop, 60 – 90 minutes (forest, wetland)
MacLaren Pond: .5 km loop, 15 minutes, (forest, pond)
Shiphaven: 1.0 return trip, 30 minutes, (forest, coast)
Black Horse: 4.4 loop 1.5-2 hours (forest)
Coppermine: 4.4 km loop, 1.5 – 2 hours (forest, coast)
Dickson Falls: 1.5 km loop, 30 minutes (forest, brook)
Dobson Link: 2.6 km one way, 60 – 90 minutes (forest)
East Branch: 5.6 km loop, 2-2.5 hours (forest)
Herring Cove Beach: 1.0 km return trip, 1.5 hours (coast)
Kinnie Brook: 2.8 km return trip, 1.5 hour (forest)
Laverty Falls: 5 km return trip, 1.5 hours (forest)
Maple Grove: 8.0 km return trip, 1.5 – 2 hours (forest)
Matthews Head: 4.5 km return trip, 1.5 – 2 hours (forest, coast)
Point Wolfe Beach: 1.2 km return trip, 40 minutes (forest, coast)
Tracey Lake: 14km return trip, 5 hours (forest, wetland)
Bennet Brook: 15.4 km return, 5-6 hours (forest, river)
Black Hole: 11 km return trip, 4 hours (forest, river)
Coastal (East): 6.4 km return trip, 3-4 hours (forest, coast)
Coastal (West): 13.8 km return, 5-6 hours (forest, coast)
Foster Brook: 8.8 return trip, 3-4 hours (forest, river)
Goose River: 15.8 return trip, 5-6 hours (forest, coast0
Marven Lake: 16 km return trip, 5-6 hours (forest, wetland)
Moosehorn: 4.8 km one way, 2 hours (forest, river)
The Forks: 6.8 km return trip, 3-4 hours (forest, river)
Third Vault Falls: 7.4 km trip, 3-4 hours (forest, brook)
Tippen Lot (North): 4.6 km return trip, 3 hours (forest, wetland)
Tippen Lot (South): 3.8 km return trip, 5-6 hours (forest, wetland)
Upper Salmon River: 17.6 km return, 7-8 hours (forest, river)
Whitetail: 11.4 km return trip, 4-5 hours (forest)
Fundy National Park Trails