Bike, Hike or Drive the Fundy Trail Parkway in New Brunswick
If you’re looking for great views, coastal wilderness and a strenuous bike ride or hike on the New Brunswick side of the Bay of Fundy then make your way to the Fundy Trail Parkway.
The Fundy Trail is a 16 kilometer coastal road located ten kilometers east of the town of St. Martins. It’s easily accessed from Saint John or Moncton but don’t confuse it with Fundy National Park which lies further to the east. There are plans to extend the parkway to the border with Fundy National Park but for now that area is solid wilderness – and accessible only via the demanding 49.3 kilometer Fundy Footpath trail - a backpacking trail that will take you 4-5 days to hike.
Before heading to the Fundy Trail fuel up – whether you’re biking or driving – in St. Martins as there is nothing to buy on the parkway itself. It’s not a hardship with roadside stands offering tasty lobster rolls, ice cream cones and other high calorie but delicious fare.
Pretty little gift shop on the way to the Fundy Trail
There’s something for everyone
You might need to fuel up in St. Martin’s before or after doing the Fundy Trail ($6.95 for this)
You can check out a covered bridge
I’d come to bike the Fundy Trail. Most people don’t. They drive it and there is a reason for that.
There are hills – bloody big hills with grades of up to 17% and although they might be short they’re still lung bursting and tough. I’m used to the Rocky Mountains but in my arrogance I discounted the difficulty that I would find on the east coast.
Before you get started you must pay to drive, bike or hike the Fundy Trail. It costs $5.50/adult, $4.50 for seniors and $3.50 for kids 12 and under. (It’s open to vehicles from mid-May until mid-October.) You can still access the Fundy Trail Parkway the rest of the year but by using human power only – via biking, hiking, skiing or snowshoeing.
Map of the Fundy Trail Parkway
I rented a bike at the entrance to the Fundy Trail Parkway. If you can, bring your own. I felt like Wilma Flintstone on my bike. The breaks were almost non-existent – and I had chosen one of the better ones – so on the descent I used my feet to break leaving the smell of rubber behind. I also pumped the hand breaks as hard as I could and thank the powers to be that there was hardly a car on the road the day I did it.
Let me explain what I ended up doing.
I had limited time, perhaps three hours in total. I started off on the bike trails – which at the beginning were very easy. Then they steepened to the point that I had to walk my bike and I NEVER walk my bike. I was wondering what was wrong with me and it wasn’t until I moved to the road that I understood that I walked a section with either a 14% or a 17% grade. However the bike path – which is the same as the hiking path – enjoys better views and easier access to the numerous viewpoints.
The start of the biking portion of the Fundy Trail
One of the first side-trips I did was to Fuller Falls. Although accessed via a set of rickety steps the falls themselves are very beautiful and in fact are considered to be one of the Fundy Biosphere Reserve AMAZING PLACES.
I passed marked viewpoints with scenes like the one in the photo below. On a sunny day the place would be glorious.
View of the beach from parking area 4
But eventually I gave up on the path and moved to the road in the hopes of making speedier progress. I did but I still had doubts about making it to the far end and back in my allotted time.
So I cheated – well sort of. I cycled most of the way to the Visitor’s Center and turned back perhaps half a kilometer shy of it. Then I whooshed down the parkway – great fun really – all the way to the car. I returned the bike and suggested to the staff that they might want to do a little bike maintenance before hopping in my car and driving to the far end of the parkway.
No one warned me about these grades
Suspension bridge over the Big Salmon River
The Big Salmon River
I’m so glad I did what I did as the hills were really nasty coming out of Big Salmon River but the views were the best of the entire Fundy Trail Parkway.
Great view up the coast
Looking down as the Visitor’s Center from above
The Fundy Trail is very popular with families and with all the viewpoints and side trails you could easily spend a half day here. Interestingly you can also make a night of it. The Hearst Lodge (of Hearst publishing fame) is accessed via a shuttle from Parking lot 9. You can rent a cabin or lodge room and enjoy a true wilderness setting.
If you make it as far as Saint John or Moncton then I highly recommend getting a taste of the Bay of Fundy Coast by driving or biking the Fundy Trail Parkway. Go on a sunny day if at all possible when the views will be at their best.
Have you ever heard of the Fundy Trail Parkway?
***A big thank you to Tourism New Brunswick for underwriting much of my stay – including the trip to the Fundy Trail.***
Vote for my article on WorldTravelist.com, sharing the best travel content on the web.