The province of New Brunswick, Canada has many beautiful and unique nature parks that should not be missed when visiting the area! They are not only for nature lovers as they provide great learning experiences about the area (history) as well as a variety of other topics, wonderful adventure activities, a relaxing atmosphere, and the opportunity to develop an appreciation for nature and the outdoors. These unique parks are a must when visiting New Brunswick:
Fundy National Park
Fundy National Park is located about 1 hour from Moncton or 84.6 km (52.6 miles) and is near the village of Alma. It was New Brunswick’s first national park when established in 1948. There is 206 square kilometres (79.5 square miles) of Acadian forest, including more than 120 km (75 miles) of walking, hiking, and biking trails where you can discover waterfalls, freshwater lakes, streams, and river valleys. There is a wide range of activities and amenities, including; canoeing, kayaking, fishing, geocaching, a solar-heated saltwater swimming pool, a nine-hole golf course, lawn bowling, tennis, picnicking, play areas, interpretive programs, special events, musical performances, and camping (some campsites have yurts and oTENTiktents). In winter you can cross-country ski on about 25 km (15.5 miles) of groomed ski trails, use the snowshoe trails, do winter walking, and sledding/tobogganing.
There is an abundance of flora and fauna, including hundreds of different plant species in Fundy National Park. It is also home to several rare plants, such as the rare bird’s eye primrose, which is only found here. Moreover, it is a wonderful place for birdwatching.
In addition, Fundy National Park is a Dark Sky Preserve. This means there are very few lights in the area, which makes it one of the best places to view millions of stars with the naked eye at night in Canada. Essentially, it is an astronomy park.
The Dickson Falls Trail is the most popular trail in the park and for good reason. There are two different options of hikes; the long loop which is 1.5 km (0.9 miles) and takes approximately 30 minutes to complete or the short loop which is 1 km (0.62 miles) and is about 15 minutes in duration. Both trails are of moderate difficulty as there are stairs at several points (usually only a few at a time though) and some steep sections. The trails take you within a forest beginning with a dirt path that later turns into an extensive boardwalk that leads you into a valley with lush vegetation. In addition, you get the opportunity to see the Dickson Brook, a gorge, and various viewpoints of the waterfall, each time getting better and better, although all the viewpoints were lovely. The trail has several interpretive panels along it, which further enhances the experience. The waterfall was beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed the hike. It was easy to see why the Dickson Falls Trail is designated as one of the Amazing Places of the Fundy Biosphere Reserve, which is designated by UNESCO as one of the world’s most unique landscapes.
Another popular attraction in Fundy National Park is Point Wolfe, which features a unique red-painted covered bridge. Please note vehicles over 4.4 metres (14.4 feet) in height cannot cross under it. Also located at Point Wolfe are one of the main river estuaries, Point Wolfe River, viewpoints and interpretive panels, a salt marsh, Point Wolfe Beach, a picnic area, one of the park’s main campsites, and several trail heads. Furthermore, there are many types of geological rock at Point Wolfe. Point Wolfe River Estuary is also one of the Amazing Places of the Fundy Biosphere Reserve.
Point Wolfe used to be a lumbering and fishing village during the 1800s and was the main settlement in the area with a saw mill and dam. Both these operations dwindled after a number of years with fishing first, and later in the beginning of the 1900s, logging ceased. Today, the village buildings and millpond no longer exist, however you may still find remnants of the settlers who once lived there throughout the park.
Fundy Trail Parkway
The Fundy Trail Parkway is about 1 hour and 12 minutes from Saint John or 73.6 km (45.7 miles) and 30 minutes from St. Martins or 19.7 km (12.2 miles). It was carved out of the Fundy escarpment, a 2 km (1.2 mile) wide corridor consisting of 1 km (0.6 miles) of land and 1 km (0.6 miles) stretching into the Bay of Fundy. The Fundy Trail Parkway is a 2,550 hectare (6,301 acre) park with 16 km (10 miles) of coastal low-speed auto parkway and 10 km (6.2 miles) of coastal multi-use trail. It allows entry to areas of the Bay of Fundy which was previously inaccessible and is one of the last remaining coastal wilderness areas between Florida and Labrador. Additionally, it has some of the oldest rocks in New Brunswick, which are more than 600 million years old, and is a well-forested area.
You may walk, hike, bike, or drive the trail. Most people drive the trail and combine it with a few hikes as there are 23 scenic lookouts. In winter it is common to cross-country ski the trail. There are places to park at each of the lookouts and many of the look-outs and observation decks are wheel-chair accessible, while offering panoramic views. Picnic areas are located throughout the park. What’s more, full-day guided kayak adventures around the Fundy Trail are available.
One of the must-see attractions in the Fundy Trail Parkway is Fuller Falls. It is a breathtaking 15 metre (49.2 feet) forested waterfall with the opportunity to view the falls from above and see the water falling beneath, as well as the unique option to climb down the cable ladder to the lookout landing below to get a different perspective (view the falls from below) and an even more spectacular view. This waterfall was quite different than Dickson Falls, but equally stunning.
For the most remarkable and dramatic view, be sure to check out Long Beach Lookout at the end of the park. It is worth the drive as it offers outstanding views of both Long Beach and Tufts Point at low and high tide. The sandy beach is about 650 metres (2,132.6 feet) long. There are also four picnic areas available, giving you the chance to relax and spend even more time there if desired. Fuller Falls and Long Beach are part of the Amazing Places of the Fundy Biosphere Reserve, as well as my two favourite places in the Fundy Trail Parkway.
Another popular attraction is the 84 metre (275 foot) suspension bridge across Big Salmon River. Plus, this bridge functions as the start of the Fundy Footpath, a continuous wilderness trail from Fundy Trail Parkway to the edge of Fundy National Park. The distance equates to 41 km (24 miles) and takes experienced backpackers a minimum of 3-4 days to complete the hike.
The Interpretive Centre, located near the suspension bride, also offers beautiful views of Big Salmon River. Inside, historic artifacts are on display as well as information about the area’s previous logging, fishing, and shipbuilding industries. There is a daily program, special programs for families, and some guided tours offered. Moreover, a gift shop is located inside the Interpretive Centre.
The Fundy Trail Parkway has impressive cliffs and four secluded beaches. It is a great choice for an eco-experience as there are many species of native plants, 250 year old trees, plus it is wonderful for bird watching and viewing a variety of marine and wildlife.
The park has received several awards as well as recognition for being an outstanding tourism attraction. Moreover, the Fundy Trail Parkway is part of the Stonehammer Geopark, an area recognized by the UNESCO supported Global Geopark Network for having exceptional geological heritage which is linked to archaeology, wildlife and habitats, history, and/or folklore and culture. At this park you can learn about the Birthplace of the Atlantic Ocean.
Irving Nature Park
Irving Nature Park is located 11 minutes from Saint John or 8.9 km (5.5 miles). It is a 243 hectare (600 acre) park with six different ecosystems of the Southern New Brunswick coastline, including; Acadian forest, a rocky shore with volcanic rock and tidal pools, mud flats, a salt marsh, a 1 km sand beach, and a bog. It is open year round and is free to the public. Additionally, the park has interactive programs, special events, and tours to learn about astronomy, history, or nature, or for snowshoeing, all of which are also free.
There is a 6.5 km (4 miles) of low-speed auto parkway that allows you to encircle the park and parking lots located in different sections so you can stop and check out any or all of the 8 walking trails. The trails are all of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty. Many people also run or bike throughout the park. Moreover, there are boardwalks, lookout points, picnic sites (some of which have gas barbeques), and a seal observation deck. Unfortunately, I did not see any seals during my visit. For those with children, there is a Children’s Forest that has a playground and two cedar hedge mazes.
Irving Nature Park is a paradise for nature lovers as the park is abundant with flora and fauna, including marine life and more than 250 species of birds. I was lucky enough to see a number of birds throughout the park and on the Squirrel Trail a few squirrels and chimpunks.
My favourite part of the park was the observation tower. To get to it requires a short hike on a dirt path through the trees and walking up several stairs, but it was well worth it as it is the highest point on the peninsula and offers 360 degree views of the land and seascapes. The view is simply breathtaking! I reached the observation tower when the sun was starting to set, which was ideal as the views were even more striking with the golden glow of the sun. The mudflats were also quite interesting and the view from the observation tower provided a more large-scale perspective than the other lookouts.
Parlee Beach Provincial Park
Parlee Beach Provincial Park is located in Pointe-Du-Chêne, just 3 minutes from Shediac and about a half hour from Moncton or about 32.2 km (20 miles). It is one of the most popular beaches in New Brunswick. Parlee Beach is quite a large sandy beach, being both very wide and very long, and is said to have the warmest salt water in Canada. In summer there are lifeguards during the day, as well as daily scheduled sports activities such as volleyball, football, and a sand-sculpture competition.
The park offers a great deal of amenities, including; change houses, showers, washrooms, a restaurant, canteen, picnic area, playground, amphitheatre, a campground with over 190 campsites, and parking. While I was there I saw several families with their young children wading in the water even though it was evening. Besides swimming, Parlee Beach Provincial Park is a wonderful place to go to unwind, as you can just sit and relax and watch the ocean.
Visiting Fundy National Park, Fundy Trail Parkway, Irving Nature Park, and Parlee Beach Provincial Park not only provides a relaxing escape, but also many wonderful adventure activities, and the chance to help you learn more about the area, as well as nature. In addition, these parks are a terrific complement to any itinerary!
Map of the Bay of Fundy
What is your favourite nature park and why?
This was a complimentary trip courtesy of New Brunswick Tourism. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.