Exploring Fundy Trail Parkway- St Martins, NB
Our next adventure took us to the coastal wilderness where we experienced yet another Bay of Fundy phenomenon – a coastline sculpted by the worlds highest tides. It was a long and scenic drive to the Fundy Trail Parkway, and a bit foggy when we arrived. So, you may wonder, what is the Bay of Fundy and what’s the big deal?
The Bay of Fundy is a bay between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The bay is known for having the highest tidal range in the world because it is funnel-shaped across its width, deep at one end and shallow at the other. This configuration forces tides to be pushed higher as they move up into the Bay. We were fascinated to learn that the highest tides on earth fill the bay with over one hundred billion tons of seawater – as high as a four-story building – and brimming with diverse marine life. Just hours later at low tide, we were able to stroll among the rock formations on the seabed.
There are three interesting ways to observe the tides: the Vertical Effect, the Horizontal Effect and the Tidal Rapids. In my previous post, the Reversing Rapids were an example of Tidal Rapids. During our exploration at the Fundy Trail Parkway we saw an example of a vertical tide.
At St. Martins, gateway to the Fundy Trail Parkway, we spotted a small harbor where fishing boats were sitting on the ground during low tide. On our way back home we saw the boats bobbing in the water alongside the wharf. Small harbors are the best place to see vertical tide changes that can be 50 ft or more!
We stopped at many lookouts to view towering cliffs, undeveloped coastline and panoramic vistas of beaches. The Fundy Trail winds its way along one of the last remaining coastal wilderness areas between Florida and Labrador.
At one point we hiked down to follow the Fundy Footpath all the way to Fundy Point. We skirted along Big Salmon river and hugged the coastline, where Steve decided to create his own path all the way to where the river flows to the ocean. He thought we would then walk across the shallow beach there and walk back up the path on the other side. Wrong!
When we arrived on the beach, we witnessed horizontal tide, which happens when the low tide retreats as much as three miles, leaving vast areas of the ocean floor exposed.
Unfortunately we were just a little late and the tide was coming back in, so we had to double back on the trail we had just taken. Oh well, nice try!
On the ocean floor, we took notice of the seaweed attached to rocks, and tiny black sea shells…
…also some beautiful wildflowers and critters along the “real” pathway as we returned…
…finally arriving at the suspension foot bridge – the easy and correct way to cross Big Salmon river.
With the fog lifting by early afternoon, we chose to follow the path to the Fuller Falls lookout, then hiked just over a mile down to Melvin Beach. We noted the clay colored cliffs and colorful sandy stones that we walked on. The tide was starting back in so we chose to stay at Melvin Beach and not cross over to Pangburn Beach.
The entry fee was worth every penny, for we thoroughly enjoyed each view, path and trail we followed. The 10-mile Fundy Trail Parkway is well constructed and maintained within the most picturesque area of the Bay of Fundy, and it provided us with a variety of experiences along its length.
On our way home we stopped by St. Martins village and enjoyed some more local fresh and delicious seafood, this time a lobster roll and a cup of delicious chowder. The restaurant had a great view of beautiful sea caves – shallow features carved into sandstone and conglomerate caused by physical erosion of the high and low tides.
More images captured on our way back to camp…
A colorful home with a matching colored barn and gift shop
And back to the curvy and steep grades along scenic highway 111 .
We stopped and bought wild Canadian blueberries, with which I baked a delicious pie that we savored after a long day of exploration.
We never fail to admire the Grand Bay-Westfield visitor center as we passed by it on our way in and out of the campground.
We have more stories and pictures to share – the Canadian Maritimes are so scenic and colorful. The weather has been near perfect, sunny but a bit breezy at times. Stay tuned!