Exploring Fundy Trail Parkway- St Martins, NB

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St Martins low tide

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?

Bay of Fundy

Location of the Bay of Fundy

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.

St Martins, NB

A colorful crafts store near the beach.

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!

St Martins low tide

Low tide at St. Martins – no fishing for a while, folks!

St Martins at high tide

High tide at St. Martins – OK, let’s go catch dinner!

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.

Fundy Trail Parkway

Undeveloped stretch of coastline.

Pangburn Beach

Looking out on Pangburn and Melvin beaches during low tide – they don’t exist at high tide.

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!

Big Salmon River

Steve created his own footpath to the beach, but his mission was doomed.

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.

Big Salmon River

Let’s see how far we can walk out to the ocean – this would all be deeply covered in a couple of hours.

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!

Big Salmon River Beach

Let’s get out of here before the tide catches us!

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.

Big Salmon River

Goofing off at the suspension foot bridge – showing Steve this is the right way to cross the 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.

Melvin Beach

Melvin Beach and its huge piles of colorful smooth stones.

Melvin Beach

Searching for the perfect stone.  Note the high tide line on the wall behind me – and it has already been coming in for some time when we took this shot.

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.

St. Martin seacaves

We had a beer and some yummy seafood here while checking out the nearby sea caves.

More images captured on our way back to camp…

St Martins, NB

An overcast sky lends mood to some shots.

A colorful home with a matching colored barn and gift shop

St Martin village

Folks here tend to use and match colors on their structures very well.

And back to the curvy and steep grades along scenic highway 111 .

Highway 111

Curvy and steep grades along 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.

Wild Blueberries

Wild blueberries are best for pies!

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.

Grand Bay Westfield

Visitor Center at Grand Bay -Westfield

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!