by Colin Hughes


Around 1:00 am we heard a noise. It was strange, yet familiar. As I slowly awoke, I realized it was whales, 300 feet below our cliff-edge campsite, in the Atlantic Ocean. As we drifted in and out of sleep, the whales continued to serenade us until the sun came up in the morning. It was a great way to begin a Fundy Shore trip.


The Bay of Fundy is one of the 7 wonders of North America. Featuring the highest tides on earth, the rarest whales in the world along with semi-precious minerals and dinosaur fossils, it really is a unique location. The bay is bordered by New Brunswick on the north shore, and Nova Scotia along the south shore. Our trip took us along the northern shore in New Brunswick, from Blacks Harbour and Grand Manan Island eastward to Hopewell Cape.

Hole in the Wall Campground


Grand Manan Island is a birders paradise. The only main road runs north to south along the eastern side of the island. While there are a couple of provincial park campgrounds, plan to book a site at the Hole in the Wall Campground, just north of the ferry terminal. Campsites are offered right on the cliff edge and we parked our vehicle about ten feet from the 91 metre (300 ft) drop and set up camp. The scenery is spectacular. There are numerous hiking trails on the island but there are trails directly accessible by foot from the campground up to Northern Head, taking hikers in and out of the forest and along rocky outcrops with look-outs over the ocean.

 

St. Martin's, NB


From Grand Manan Island we headed towards Saint John and followed a number of back roads and off-road trails we had discovered in the New Brunswick Backroad Mapbook, finally emerging at the shore in St Martins with the tide in. There are some great rock formations and sea caves here and the following morning with the tide out, we were able to walk out on the ocean floor and explore them. Some of these caves are capable of parking two or three semi trucks and trailers inside.

Just east of St Martins is the Fundy Trail Parkway, a 19 km (12 mi) road along the coast with hiking trails, lookouts and a dog friendly Interpretive Centre. It was a very foggy day but we hiked a few trails, checked out waterfalls and lookouts and toured the Interpretive Centre. The hiking trail parallels the coast and the parkway with numerous access points. Fownes Head Trail takes hikers to Flower Pot Rock (unfortunately quite fogged in the day we visited) and Fuller Falls, where you can find great views of the falls from the top and if you are more adventurous at the base — if you are willing to use the cable ladder to get up and down. There are numerous lookouts, water stations, a suspension foot bridge and covered kitchen shelters interspersed between the entrance and the Interpretive Centre and many of the look-outs are wheelchair accessible.

forest rapids


At 207 square kilometers with 7.5 miles (12 kms) of dramatic rugged shoreline, Fundy National Park features two main campgrounds, Chignecto North at the north-west entrance to the park and Point Wolfe, down along the Fundy shore. There are over 120 kms (75 mi)  of hiking trails, forest drives and mountain biking on specific trails.The Fundy Footpath links the park with the Fundy Trail Parkway. This challenging 41 km (24 mi) wilderness trail takes between 3-4 days to hike. The terrain moves up and down between 0 and 300 metres elevation as it crosses numerous ravines.

Grand Manan Lighthouse


Our hikes in the park included a forested section of the Fundy Footpath from the Point Wolfe campground, Matthews Head, which follows fields through a second growth forest to the top of rugged cliffs overlooking the Bay of Fundy, where on a clear day you can see Nova Scotia, as well as hiking the ocean floor while the tide was out. However, be aware of the tide tables and don’t get caught out with the tide coming in. With all the trails in Fundy National Park, a week could be spent here hiking these Acadian forests.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention, Kelly’s Bake Shop in Alma, just outside of Fundy National Park, which has some of the best sticky buns you’ll ever taste.

Hopewell Rocks


Our final destination along the Fundy Shore was Hopewell Rocks. The tides here reach 15 m (50 ft)  allowing visitors to walk the ocean floor and view the sea carved flower pot rocks at low tide only to come back six hours later to see the rocks completely surrounded by water.

Once again dogs are welcome and we spent a morning exploring these rock formations.

There are plenty of hiking trails, sea kayak opportunities, off road driving and more throughout the Fundy Shore. The New Brunswick Backroad Mapbook is a great resource for planning any trip.

 

 

If visiting Fundy National Park is on your bucket list - be sure to check out these handy links for trip planning and preparation.

Fundy National Park:http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/nb/fundy/index.aspx

Fundy Trail Parkway:http://www.fundytrailparkway.com/en/

Grand Manan Island:http://grandmanancamping.com/


And of course the BRMB New Brunswick Backroad Mapbook and the BRMB New Brunswick GPS Maps feature all the on and off road trails as well as information on parks, trails, natural attractions and more.