Some of the most alluring portions of New Brunswick’s coastline can be found between Moncton and Saint John, a wild and mostly untouched region of rugged headlands, crumbling cliffs and dense, fog-bound forests trailing into the sea. The main sights are easily accessed via routes 114 and 111, collectively dubbed the Fundy Coastal Drive.
The Fundy coast is a popular holiday spot in the summer, so it’s a good idea to book accommodation in advance – most things are closed between November and June. Be prepared for patches of pea-soup fog: the Bay of Fundy is notoriously prone to them. You’ll need a car to make the most of the area, as there is no public transport to either St Martins or the Fundy National Park.
Fundy National Park
Bisected by Rte-114, Fundy National Park encompasses a short stretch of the Bay of Fundy’s pristine shoreline, all jagged cliffs and tidal mud flats, and the forested hills, lakes and river valleys of the central plateau behind. This varied scenery is crossed by more than 100km of hiking trails, mostly short and easy walks taking no more than three hours to complete – though the 45km Fundy Circuit links several of the interior trails and takes between three and five days. The pick of the hiking trails are along the Fundy shore, where the shady Point Wolfe Beach Trail is a moderately steep, 600m hike down from the spruce woodlands above the bay to the grey-sand beach below (15min). Of equal appeal is the 4.4km loop of the Coppermine Trail (1hr 30min–2hr), which meanders through the forests with awe-inspiring views out along the seashore. Birdlife is more common in the park than larger wildlife, though you may see the odd moose, and several precocious raccoons in summer, which have become real pests – feeding them is illegal.
The fishing village of ST MARTINS scatters along the Bay of Fundy shoreline about 40km to the east of Saint John, a pretty ensemble of neat gardens and clapboard houses culminating (after 3km) at the harbour, a compact affair of lobster pots and skiffs set within a ring of hills. Be sure to get a photo of the twin covered bridges over the Irish River (the Vaughan Creek Bridge was built in 1935; upriver is the Hardscrabble Bridge of 1946) along with the lighthouse (the information centre), built in 1983 and actually a replica of the old Quaco Head Lighthouse.
The Fundy Trail Parkway
From St Martin’s harbour it’s 8km east along Big Salmon River Rd to the Fundy Trail Parkway, one of the province’s most magical destinations. The 13km parkway threads past craggy headlands, dense forest and stupendous viewpoints at almost every turn; you might see moose, porcupine and deer along the way. The road is also shadowed by a multi-use trail offering fine and comparatively easy hiking and biking, as well as access to several gorgeous beaches and falls. The parkway ends near the Big Salmon River Interpretive Centre (mid-May to mid-Oct daily 8am–8pm), whose exhibits give the historical lowdown on the former lumber town of Big Salmon River, whose inhabitants packed up shop in the 1940s. From the centre, you can stroll down the hillside and cross the suspension bridge to the river below or negotiate the steep ninety-minute hike (2.7km) up into the hills to the hunting and fishing lodge built here in 1968 by the Hearst family – of newspaper fame and owners of the lumber mill. You can drive a little further from the centre, across the new bridge and along to a final viewpoint, the Long Beach Lookout; the hope is to eventually extend the road all the way to the Fundy National Park, but until then you must return to St Martins to move on.
Serious hikers can walk the 50km between Fundy National Park and the Fundy Trail Parkway via the spectacular coastal Fundy Footpath (fundyfootpath.info), accessible from the end of Goose River Path (7.9km; 2hr 30min) from Point Wolfe in Fundy National Park – the path ends near the Big Salmon River Interpretive Centre on the Parkway. Most people take four days and camp along the way.