Matthews Head

Well, there's nothing like a camping trip with a bunch of friends in one of my favourite places (Fundy National Park) to kick off summer. I have high hopes for this one being one of the best yet! A few months ago I booked an Otentik for some friends and then ended up booking a second, and the experience did not disappoint. 

After a great camping experience, a short sleep, and a morning around the campfire, we headed out to hike Matthews Head. 

I consider Matthews Head a great pre-summer trail, as you get some pretty incredible views along the coast, it's a loop, and it's a perfect length - not too short and not too long (in my opinion). If it's still too cold to swim, breathing in the ocean air is a great alternative.

The first half is downhill, which takes you to the first look out: 

Make sure you don't miss it - you have to go left at a fork. 

The trail has a bit of history attached to it as well. It is named after Tom and Ellen Matthews, who settled there in 1865. The first section of the trail is an old wagon road that brings you to what looks like the foundation of a 19th century homestead. If you keep your eyes peeled, you'll find it semi-hidden in the grass on the right a little bit before the first lookout pictured above. 

About 2/3 of the way, you get a good look at Squaw's Cap and the rugged Fundy coastline. 

The trail also takes you through a few different kinds of forest.

This section is probably my favourite: 

And of course, the second half is mostly uphill and gets a little steep at the end, but all in all, it's not too challenging - about 1 1/2-2 hours. And there's nothing wrong with taking a break at some red chairs! 

How's that for candid? ;) 

How's that for candid? ;) 

So, next time you're in Fundy, check out Matthews Head! 

The Sugar Woods

My favourite sign of spring. The sugar woods was always an annual occurrence for our family growing up and I have the fondest memories of it. We grew up going to Beaman's in Elgin where we'd explore the property, look in the buckets, watch the sap boil down while we wait for the "sugaring off".

I can't get over the goodness of maple syrup - this clear, thin liquid that transforms into the purest, most delicious treat - in so many forms!! Candy on the snow has always been my favourite.  

The sugar woods fills me with so many feelings - the smells, sights, and sounds - so nostalgic and beautiful. 

A lot of places use the new fandangled tubing, but I prefer the classic buckets, obviously. :)

For the past couple of years, I've been going to a sugar woods closer to home (EVERY WEEKEND) - Trites Maples. I like that it's just 20 minutes away, you enjoy a short 15-minute walk through the woods, and get to enjoy a delicious pancake breakfast in the coziest pancake house. 

Two weeks ago we brought my nephew - passing the tradition on is one of the best parts! 

I debated whether or not to blog about the sugar woods because it's so "commonplace", but guess what - it's not commonplace at all! Did you know that Northeastern North America is the only place in the world that produces maple syrup? The required climate - freezing nights and warm days - and sugar maples are only found here! I think that's something to celebrate! :) 

According to this website, we're also the 3rd biggest maple syrup producer in the WORLD! GO NB GO!

I had 6 candies on the snow on Saturday, so I'd like to see you beat my 2017 record. I'm working on beating it too!

  • For more info on the maple syrup-making process, check out this website. 
  • For more info on sugar woods near you, check out the Tourism NB's guide to sticky season here.  
  • There's also a maple sugar festival in Riverview this weekend! Find info on that here.

So, find a sugar woods or sugar bush or sugar shack (whatever you want to call it) near you and make a family memory this weekend! 

Midland Ice Caves

Well, I’ve been waiting for the snow to go explore the Midland Ice Caves, and I definitely got what I’ve been asking for! As I’m writing this, I just cleared about 50 cm of snow from my driveway. :/ The white stuff definitely did make the trip more beautiful though :) 

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A few friends and I headed out towards Norton from Moncton and met up with my sister in Sussex to make the trek to the caves!  

I forgot to time the way into the caves, but I think it was about an hour. When we arrived at around 11:00, there had already been a pretty obvious trail made and the snow was patted down. The first 2/3 is through a field that gets pretty steep by the end. It will make you want to lose some layers, and we each lost at least one on the way up - some we left in trees with notes in the snow, and others we carried. :) Besides the grade, it's a pretty easy hike. At the top of the hill you can either go straight or turn left, you turn left into a wooded area. 

The last third in the wooded area is quite easy and beautiful.

Once you go in about 10 minutes, you take a right at the sign. The sign was broken, so we tried to fix it for ya! 

You go down this "trail" for under 10 minutes and come to the small valley where the caves are! 

Every year there are holes in the ice so you can actually go in and explore the "cave" and get your perfect photo op! 

It's slippery, so be careful! You can climb in and slide out! (But that really hurt my butt) 

Someone was nice enough to set up these ropes to help you get up and down! 

The way out is pretty much all downhill, so it only took about 40 minutes. We did walk pretty fast though. It was hilarious to go down this field and see 19, NINETEEN cars lined up of people going to check them out. I love the Maritimes, but clearly we could use some more winter entertainment. haha. 

So after this week of blizzards, I'd probably pack some snowshoes, but go check it out! 

For great directions, check out Hiking NB, as usual. Also, this is private land, so let's be kind and considerate so we can enjoy them for a long time! 

Mount Carleton

There were a few places I wanted to be in peak "leaf peeping" season, and Mount Carleton Provincial Park was at the top of the list. My BFF and I headed out at 8:00am on Thursday morning and arrived almost exactly four hours later, just around noon. This ended up being really lucky as they "cut people off" from climbing Carleton at noon, since the days are getting shorter. It was a beautiful, beautiful drive. 

So, for our first day in the park, we decided to hike the highest peak in the Maritimes - Mount Carleton. Of the three mountain climbs in the park, this is actually the easiest. It's a nice loop trail. It's about 2.25 hours up and 1.25 hours down. 

The way up (if you go "clockwise") is less groomed and is quite beautiful. You go along this stream for a while on your way up: 

Once you get to this rocky section, you're almost at the top! 

You'll come to this view at the top of the trail: 

After continuing on the top over and around some boulders, you'll come to the fire tower that was used in the first half of the 20th century to spot fires. In 1968, the province began using air patrols, so the fire tower is no longer used. 

This is a great spot to enjoy a picnic and the view of 10 million trees. 

The way down is (obviously) easier and only takes 1.5 hours, but it is a little less scenic.

Definitely worth the hike to make it to the highest point in the Maritimes! 

We stayed in a B&B close by overnight and decided to hike another mountain on Friday! We landed on Mount Bailey as it is a bit shorter than Carleton, but a bit more strenuous. 

Before starting out, we checked out this waterfall: 

And spent some time at the lake: 

I can't wait to get back and spend some time swimming and canoeing on this beauty. 

So we set out to do Mount Bailey at around noon. The first 3/4 of the hike is through this enchanted forest: 

The way up was about an hour and a half and the way down about 45 minutes. We opted out of the loop, which is a bit longer and more difficult. Bailey was a wee bit steep, quite a bit steeper than Carleton, but the payoff was worth it. 

There are just two small lookouts on this trail. They say you can almost always see moose in the brooks below from the top. We weren't so lucky. :( 

I really enjoyed Mount Bailey, and can't wait to try it again and do the full loop. 

Things you should know about MCPP: 

Campgrounds close at the end of September. Check their website for dates.

The park "officially" closes mid-October. You can still go in after this point, but you'll have to walk in past the gate. 

They only accept cash!! 

There is no cell phone service, except on the top of mountains. :)