Fundy Trail Memories: Exploring New Brunswick’s Famous Coastal Route
Whether you’re walking, hiking or biking, New Brunswick’s legendary Fundy Trail offers magnificent tides, breathtaking coastline and endless adventure.
Welcome to the Fundy Trail
My husband Larry and I recently took a long-overdue road trip to Canada's East Coast. One of the highlights was spending a sunny spring day at the Fundy Trail overlooking the Bay of Fundy, less than an hour's drive east of Saint John, New Brunswick.
We stopped first at the picturesque village of St. Martins, close to the Fundy Trail's main entrance, where we were charmed by the sight of two covered bridges, lighthouses, craft shops and seafood restaurants, as well as a sweeping stretch of beach (above). When we first arrived at midday, the tide had risen and ocean waters lapped at the shoreline and crept into the craggy openings of giant sea caves. This was our first glimpse into the Bay of Fundy's tides, which are the highest in the world. I could visualize the Mi'kmaq legend that describes the tides as a whale's thrashing tail sloshing the waves around. During our return hours later at low tide, we could walk along the cobbled ocean floor directly into the caves that seemed to dwarf us. (Here are more unforgettable ways to feel small next to nature.) It was strange to see fishing boats that had previously been bobbing at the wharf, now resting in the mud.
Will you walk, hike or bike the Fundy Trail?
Hugging the Fundy escarpment on the Bay of Fundy, the Fundy Trail is actually a 2,559-hectare linear park and ecosystem that is part of two UNESCO designated sites, Stonehammer UNESCO Global Geopark (the first in North America) and the Fundy Biosphere Reserve. (Check out 50 more spectacular parks across Canada.)
We drove along a winding, 19-kilometre parkway with spectacular views of endless blue waters and jagged cliffs that plunged as much as 157 metres. We saw amazing rock formations with a geological history dating back 450 million years.
You can walk, hike, or bike a ten-kilometre multi-use section of the coastal trail, or even do overnight wilderness treks, but we only had one day. We chose to park at marked, scenic lookouts and take short hikes, described as "footpaths" in the handy map and guide provided with the under $10 adult-entrance fee—truly a bargain!
My camera started clicking as we made our way along each pretty footpath with their aptly named destinations—Fox Rock, Flower Pot Rock and the Sea Captain's Burial Grounds—and it didn't stop all day. We climbed down a cable ladder to a platform at the base of Fuller Falls, which dropped 15 metres. Red sandstone rocks, green foliage, white spray—click!
My favourite hike had to be crossing an 84-metre suspension bridge over the Big Salmon River lookout (above), which gave a different perspective on the river below, where lumber-carrying ships once headed out with the tides to faraway shores. (This drone footage of New Brunswick's stunning landscapes also provides a unique bird's-eye-view.)
Most awe-inspiring were the many different lookouts along the route. Nothing is more dramatic and distinctively Canadian that the varying canvases of cliffs, rocks and trees silhouetted against wavy shores and sparkling seas. The Hairpin Turn lookout lived up to its name. Don't miss these other essential East Coast experiences.
Bidding adieu to the Fundy Trail
Dotting the Fundy Trail coastline are secluded beaches, each with their own character, ranging from sandy to rocky and changing with the tides. Yet another lookout showcased the 2.5-kilometre panoramic Long Beach (above)—my eyes were drawn to the symmetry of the azure horizon.
Every province that I've been lucky enough to visit has its special place that lingers in your heart. New Brunswick's Fundy Trail was mine. Before leaving I sipped a cup of warm, seafood chowder from a restaurant in St. Martins—a perfect ending to a sublime day.
Traveller's tip: The legendary Bay of Fundy tides are best explored at the Hopewell Rocks, where you can walk around the famous "flowerpot rocks" at low tide, then watch them slowly disappear. You can also bike along the Fundy Trail, camp at Fundy National Park, or rappel down craggy cliffs at Cape Enrage, which made our countdown of 25 essential experiences in the Great White North!