Sculpted by time and tide – Hopewell Cape, NB

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Flower Pots Rocks
Steve and the ducks

Steve chatting with the quack-quacks

We finally began our journey back toward the U.S. from Cape Breton Island, via New Brunswick.  We thought we’d left the rain behind us, but our brief stop at Linwood, NS was a washout, too.  I know it sounds like we’re complaining, but cabin fever was setting in and we became antsy.  The sun finally made a grand appearance, and our drive to Moncton, New Brunswick was a happy one.  Steve made friends with the ducks at our campsite and discussed the weather with them.  They seemed perfectly happy about all of the rain that had come through!

Since we had been through here on our way to Prince Edward Island a few weeks ago, this was a “catch our breath” stop and we ran a few errands – like a much-needed trip to Costco.  But we did have time for an interesting excursion that fits right in with my past blogs about the Bay of Fundy, and the effects of the  highest tides in the world.  Folks coming to this area don’t want to miss a trip out to the Hopewell Rocks.

Hopewell Rocks

Low tide at Hopewell Rocks

This drive took us to an interesting geologic feature known as the Hopewell Rocks formation, where the famous “Flower Pot Rocks” are located.  Even though we have been to quite a few formations – Chiricahua Mountains (Arizona)Alabama Hills (California), Stone Mountain (Georgia) etc – the Flower Pot Rocks are quite different.  While rain and ice continue to erode these formations today, they get the additional daily tidal action that wears away at the bases of the cliffs and rocks.  This is slowly disintegrating them as the Bay of Fundy tides continue to change these unusual sculptures.

Flower Pots Rocks, Hopewell Rocks

The average change in water level from high to low tide is 35 ft.  Steve won’t be standing here in a few hours!

The only time these formations can be seen is at low tide.  So, along with busloads of tourists we explored the ocean floor for a fee.  The Bay of Fundy is a huge attraction here in New Brunswick.

Warning Signs, Hopewell Rocks

Keep the time in mind, or else!

Hopewell Rocks

This platform is where the dummies who don’t pay attention have to go, if they don’t get off the beach in time. Then they get to sit there until the tide goes back out hours later. How embarrassing!

Flower Pots, Hopewell Rocks

Low tide at the “Flower Pots”

The formations consist of dark sedimentary conglomerate and sandstone rock.  The huge volume of water flowing into and out of the Bay of Fundy constantly modifies the landscape surrounding it.  Following the retreat of the glaciers in the region during the last ice age, surface water filtering through cracks in the cliff eroded and separated the formations from the rest of the cliff face.  At the same time, advancing and retreating tides eroded the base of the rocks at a faster rate than the tops, resulting in their unusual shapes.

Flower Pots, Hopewell Rocks

Rock Formations at Hopewell Rocks

Little person in a big hole.

Rock Weeds, Hopewell Rocks

Rock weeds cover the base of the rocks.

At Hopewell we could also see the mud flats that stretch as wide as 2.5 miles.  It boggles the mind to contemplate the amount of water that moves in and out of here every day.

Hopewell's Mud Flats

Hopewell’s mud flats and coastline, and the Bay of Fundy in the distance.

After walking on the ocean floor and checking out the rocks, we continued to follow the Fundy Coastline Scenic Drive.  It took us to the town of Alma, a small fishing town where we had (oh no, not again!) lobster for lunch.

Alma Tide, NB

Can you see people walking on the ocean floor?

Low Tide at Alma, NB

Low tide at Alma


Eeny, meeny, miny, moe!

After a sumptuous lobster lunch, we continued on to Cape Enrage, where we had spectacular views of its towering cliffs and a lighthouse.  Interestingly, in 1993 a small group of high school students from Moncton began a restoration project at the site, which was in disrepair and constantly vandalized. They renovated all of the buildings and slowly turned the site into a tourist destination.  A not-for-profit student-run organization maintains the property and now offers climbing, rappelling, and kayaking in the summer months.

Cape Enrage Lighthouse

Cape Enrage lighthouse is one of the oldest on New Brunswick’s Fundy coastline.

We noticed some adventurous women rappelling down the cliffs, and watched them until they reach the ground.  Hmm, I don’t think I will do it even if they did make it look easy!

Cape Enrage

These women made it looked easy.

Cape Enrage

Instead of rappelling we just played “washer pitching”, a game similar to horseshoes.

Cape Enrage’s name came from an early French descriptive, ‘cape of rage’, as exhibited by the turbulent waters often seen in the area.

Cape Enrage

A very windy trip to Cape Enrage – check out Steve’s “bad hair” day!

Cape Enrage

Tidal notices like this abound in beach areas.

Cape Enrage

Tide coming in at Cape Enrage

On the way home we stopped by again at the Hopewell Rocks, just to see how the tourists were doing at the ocean floor now.

Mid Tide at Hopewell Rocks

The tide’s coming in at the Rocks now, but a few tourist are lingering.  Not for long!

There was no shortage of fantastic scenery as we drove home, following the Fundy Coastal Drive.  The open space, green pastures and cloud formations made for a beautiful end to the day!

Fundy Coastal Drive

Fundy Coastal Drive

This time, “home” was at the Stonehurst Golf Course and Trailer Park in Moncton.  We liked it better than the Camper City and RV Resort, where we stayed the last time in Moncton.  Click here to see Steve’s review, if interested.

It was quite an amazing experience to witness the high and low tides of the Bay of Fundy.  The Reversing, Falls at St. John, the sculpted rocks at Hopewell Cape, the immense low tide at Alma and the Fundy Trail Parkway all made this part of our adventure memorable!

Next up:  Our final stop at St. Andrews-by-the-Sea and goodbye to Canada!


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!