Hike

Grand Manan Island

Grand Manan. I’ve been trying to get here for three summers now and it finally happened! I was not disappointed and I think it even over-delivered. :)

My friend Ashley was back in town for school and had a short window of time to explore NB before school started. We wanted to go somewhere new, so we chose Grand Manan! We had a few things planned, but mostly figured we could explore the island and end up seeing most of what we wanted to see.

We were fortunate enough to get a campsite at Hole in the Wall on their final summer offering the cliffside sites. I didn’t know this before booking, but was so happy we got the opportunity!

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It actually may have been my favourite part of our whole trip! Happy and sad!

I still can’t get over that view.

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And there weren’t even any ropes on the cliff edge!

Once we got our place set up, we went for pizza at Post Office Pizza and it was just as good as we’d hoped!

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We also got a friendly greeting and local “lowdown” of the island free of charge from the owner - a former Bostonian turned Grand Manan’er. He said he and his family bought a house there on their second trip to the island. It certainly does take ahold of your heart.

We had a great sleep and I woke up for a bit to snap some pics of the sunrise. (I’ve heard there are some nights where a fog horn goes off all night. Thankfully our nights were clear nights!)

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And then it was time for one of my favourite parts of camping - breakfast and coffee!

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Does it get any better? I’m not sure that it does.

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We then accidentally started driving out of our campground and turned around to do the Hole in the Wall. lol. Gotta get that pic, right?

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It was really pretty, and I understand that you can actually take that trail all around the island. That’s pretty cool!

After our short hike, we went to Swallow Tail Lighthouse, which was right by our campground. It is kept up very nicely and you can go up to the top for a small fee. I hear this is a good place to watch for whales from, but we only saw seals :(

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One thing I’m a sucker for is cute cafes. So, I knew the Old Well House Cafe would be a stop for sure! Apparently they just opened this summer and had a great first season. That was on our list because NRTHWRD suggested it, and I’m so glad we went.

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It was so beautiful and unique and the food was delicious.

We decided to spend the rest of the day driving around the island and stopping where we wanted to stop or where we heard people say was cool.

We went south, stopped for coffee at Newton’s,

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Had a pit stop at Seal Cove Beach to touch the ocean,

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Saw the South Head cliffs (slightly mind-blowing),

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Briefly visited Dark Harbour,

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And picnicked at Stanley beach for supper!

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Ashley and I are both doers, so this was a great pace for us :)

Many people suggested seeing the sunset at “The Whistle” and it was pretty cute to enjoy the sunset with about 12 other people, locals and tourists alike.

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What a day. Topped off with a fire under the stars.

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DAY 2

Since we really “conquered” most of the island on day 1, our plan was to take it easy on day 2 and revisit some favourites. We started with coffee by the fire and ocean. I can’t.

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Then went to the beautiful, delicious, quaint bakery, North Head Bakery. Their baguettes are raved about and the donut and croissant I had were both delish.

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There was a farmer’s market in town that day so we wandered there for a minute and then had another meal at the Old Well House before getting back on the ferry.

We were really determined to see a whale so we spent all of the return journey on the deck watching and waiting. Our only rewards were one or two whales really far away and windburn. Less than satisfactory. Lol.

Well, it’s safe to say that Grand Manan worked its way into my heart. I really, really loved our time there. It was the perfect way to end the summer. I’ll be back soon.

Love,

Laura

Split Rock Trail

I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again - I love going to new places! 

After "meeting" on social media, I was finally able to meet up in person with videographer, New Brunswick-lover, adventurer, (and new friend), Kirsten Stanley. She wanted to show me one of her favourite places in Saint John, and I was so pumped to just be "along for the ride" on an adventure, and not the one making all the plans and plotting the course. We met at my favourite coffee place in NB, Rogue Coffee, for a flat white, chatted (mostly about our dogs), and headed out for a hike! 

So, Split Rock Trail . . . like I said, I didn't do a lot of the planning, but I'll share a helpful link at the end of this so you can plan your trip easily ;) 

We were lucky to have two cars, so we dropped mine off at one end of a gravel road and drove back to the start of said road. You can make the trail a full loop, but you'd have to walk the gravel road for at least 1.5 km in order to do that, which isn't my idea of a great time. 

The trail starts in a dirt parking lot right after a generating station, which provides an interesting dichotomy of nature and industry for a little while. 

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The trail is pretty much all along the coast, which is most of what makes it awesome. 

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How beautiful is that?

So, confession: we were really chatty, so I didn't do a very good job of tracking time and distance, but I'd say about a third of the way in, you get to the trail's "namesake", Split Rock - a big rock out a ways from the coastline: 

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And then about two thirds in, you get to what was probably my favourite part of the hike . . . your own private beach! You climb through the trees with buoys on them with the help of some ropes and sketchy roots to this beautiful spot!

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We climbed up on that rock and had a picnic with . . . some seals! 

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Do you see their little heads?!

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What a beautiful spot for a picnic break! 

We said goodbye to our buddies and continued on. 

After another 15 minutes or so of hiking, we made it to the cave! There's a rope to help you down to explore. We went until you couldn't see anything (hoping we wouldn't see anything, really) and were satisfied :) 

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This trail really has quite a bit of character - beautiful coast, beach, seals, a cave, and even a lighthouse! 

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I guess you could say I'm sold!

The main trail ends at the lighthouse (except a 1km walk on an ATV trail back to the parking lot), unless you want to keep taking it all the way down to Black Beach. 

Many sections of the trail reminded me of Cape Breton and Newfoundland. So breathtaking . . . 

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And that's a wrap. 

We did this on a hot day (was there a not hot day in July?) and were so sweaty by the end that we were both eager for a fresh-water swim, even though it was much later than I planned to be in town. So, we headed to Lepreau Falls to cool off. It was wonderful! But that's for another blog post . . . 

We ended the day with some pub food and I headed back at dusk. Feeling worn out after a day of adventuring is one of the best feelings! 

Oh, and Kirsten made a sweet vlog about our day too! You can find it here. And check out her other adventure videos while you're there! 

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Ok, so I hope I've convinced you to get there! We did an approx. 6.5km hike - about 5km from the first parking lot to lighthouse, and then 1.4km to the second parking lot. For more details on routes, parking, distances, etc., check out the Facebook group for the trail here. This trail was actually created by a local woman and a chainsaw, with the help of her furry friend!

As always, take out what you take in! Let's keep this place special.

 

Top 5 Hikes In Fundy National Park

Fundy National Park is one of my favourite places. I've spent a lot of time here very summer since I was young. There are A LOT of trails though, and it can be overwhelming looking at a map. I thought I'd put together a list of my top 5 favourite moderate hikes in Fundy. Full disclosure: I haven't done many of the longer ones, so I can't comment on those! Here we go!

 

1. Moosehorn-Laverty Loop (7.3 km loop)

This is one of my top 3 favourite places in all of NB. It is the perfect amount of work and payoff, in my opinion. 

I recommend going in Moosehorn. You come down the steep section to this amazing view: 

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Which is where I prefer to swim. I love that you can see the bottom in most places. Fresh water swimming is just the best. It feels so clean and refreshing. 

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It's always a little nerve-wracking not knowing where it's safe to jump from at a new place, so here's a tip - this is a good jumping spot:

1-2-3 JUMP!

Wahoo!!

Once you're feeling refreshed and get changed, you'll hike another 30 mins or so and come to this beautiful waterfall:

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Which is Laverty Falls, and another swimming hole! 

Then you have about a 1/3 left to hike out. I's gradually uphill and I always feel like it's going to be shorter than it is. :)

Check out my more in-depth blog about it here

 

2. Third Vault Falls (7.4 KM return trip)

Third Vault is another waterfall hike! It's really a beautiful waterfall and the hike is nice too. I remember when I was a kid this hike seemed so hard, but it's really nothing major. It's about 40 minutes downhill to get here: 

Beautiful! You can swim here, too. It’s very cold, but I’ve done it! I usually end up swimming alone and my friends just watch me - it's not for the faint of heart. :)

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In total, it's only about a 2 hour hike (plus your lunch break at the falls/swimming), but since you had it easy coming in, it's all uphill on the way out! :)

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Definitely worth it though!

The full blog about it is here

 

3. Matthews Head (4.5km loop)

Let’s switch things up a bit!

Matthews Head is a coastal trail, and it’s a loop, which is always a bonus.

I like doing this one in the spring or summer. When it’s too cold to swim at Laverty or Third Vault, coastal views are a great alternative.

The first part (maybe a 1/3 of the way in) will bring you the first lookout:

So nice!

You’ll also pass some history, a foundation of a 19th century homestead, if you keep your eyes peeled.

About 2/3 in, you get a great look at Squaw’s Cap:

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And you go through a lot of different kinds of forest:

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The first half is mostly downhill, and the second half is mostly uphill! It’s about 1 ½-2 hours in total.

We are so lucky to live so close to be surrounded by such a beautiful coastline! Matthews Head is one I'll bring a visitor to to show off its rugged beauty. 

I also wrote a blog about this one too, which you can find here

 

4. Dickson Falls (1.5 km loop)

Dickson Falls is a very short hike, but it’s really nice. It was a classic family hike growing up! It was short enough that my mom wouldn't just wait in the car for us to do it. :)

One neat thing about this trail is that you get to experience the temperature difference that comes as you start in the dry coniferous forest:

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 And journey down to the colder, wet valley habitat:

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A lot of it is on a boardwalk and goes along this brook:

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And . . . another waterfall!

This is one of the most popular trails in Fundy since it’s so short and the payoff is good. Maybe check it out at the beginning or end of the day!

It’s only about 30-45 mins depending on which route you take.

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5. Herring Cove Beach (1km return)

Rounding out the list, we have another easy trail. It’s actually more like a walk through the woods to a beach! But it’s the beautiful Herring Cove Beach:

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It’s not a swimming beach, because as you may know, the Bay of Fundy is super cold all year round! I did polar dip in the Bay of Fundy in February and the temperature would only be a few degrees higher in the summer, so you can basically do a polar dip in any season, if that’s your cup of tea! ;)

Even if you can’t swim, the beach is beautiful and shows the immensity of the tides. The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world! As the tide goes from high to low (twice a day), the bay fills and empties a billion tonnes of water. That's actually more than the flow of the freshwater rivers of the whole world combined! Whoa! 

 So - make sure you plan to go at low tide, so you can walk the beach. If you come at high tide, you won't get very far!

After you walk the beach, if you jump on a part of the “Coastal” trail on your return, you also get to cross a small waterfall in the woods.

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There is also a nice picnic area and cookhouse at the trailhead – a great place to have your lunch!

 

 

Well, there you have it – my top 5 favourite (moderate) hikes in Fundy! I hope you like them as much as I do!

There’s certainly lots to explore in Fundy National Park – this will hopefully get you started on the right track! And help you decide, if you’re on a tight timeline.

Happy adventuring!

 

PS - I also wanted to give an honourable mention to Coppermine and Kinnie Brook. They also opened a new biking trail this summer (and provide bike rentals), but I haven’t had the chance to try it out yet!

(Find a full list of all of the park's trails and a park map here.)

Parlee Brook Ampitheatre

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Last winter was my third trip to this amazing place. Every year it has gotten busier and busier! I remember the first time we went, we were basically blazing a trail through 4 feet of snow and had to do like 15 brook crossings, risking a “soaker” each time (or it felt like that!). The second time it was super icy and we ended up climbing up pretty high in the gorge, hanging onto trees for dear life. People told us we wouldn’t make it, which is probably why we did. :) We also had a hard time finding the left turn the first two times - always an adventure! 

The last time I went (March 2017), the trail was super easy to follow as so many people had been there before us! And they made the brook crossing a breeze. Although there is something nice about untouched areas, it was awesome to see that people have been getting out to Explore NB. :) 

The trail head starts on Parlee Brook Road. The road out there is super interesting with strange houses and  the you park right near was is called “The Abbey”, or as I like to call it, the gingerbread house.  

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I would say the trail is moderate overall. The first half is up a fairly steep ATV trail. You go through two "4-ways" and get pretty high by the end. You then descend to this little lake: 

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And pass this cute cabin on your left: 

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After another mmmm . . . 10 minutes, the trail takes a left into the woods at a funky looking tree. Last year there were orange markers and like I said, the trail was obvious from previous tracks. 

This is where you have to maneuver around a brook, and depending on the year and how early you go, you may need to carve your own path or hopefully follow someone else’s. 

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After about a half hour down this section you’ll arrive!! 

Isn’t that amazing? It seems so random! 

We were able to get up into a little cave spot in the ice wall. It may not have been the safest choice, but what a great view!

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Well, that's it! Grab your hot chocolate and snacks, grab some pics . . .

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And grab your garbage on the way out. 

Parlee Brook - a super fun winter ADVENTURE - you never know what you’re gonna get! 

 

For more specific directions, I'd like to direct you to Hiking NB, as usual! 

Update: Please park past the bridge and "The Abbey" and obey the no parking signs. As Michel has shared below, access to this place is fragile. 

A Fall Walk On The Dobson Trail

This time of year usually gets me back into running and my favourite place to go is the Dobson. The trees light up like they’re putting on a show! 

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On Saturday, I went out for a Thanksgiving walk with some friends. It was a BEAUTIFUL day - I wish I’d worn shorts! One thing to remember out East is that September doesn’t mean the end of summer; we still have so many nice days before we have to brace for winter!

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If you’re in the Moncton area, make sure you take the time to get out to see the colours before it’s too late! AKA - in the next three days, pretty much. 

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And I’ll leave you with these . . . 

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