New Brunswick Week: Fundy Trail Parkway Extends to Fundy National Park

Fundy Trail ParkwayIf you have the good fortune to meet Beverley Franklin at the Long Beach Visitors Center on the Fundy Trail Parkway, as we did this past Sunday, by all means stop and say hello. After all, it was her father, Mitchell Franklin, a hotel and movie theater developer, who had the passion to create a coastal drive that started near his farm in St. Martins and finished at Fundy National Park. 23 years after the Fundy Trail Parkway debuted in 1998 and some 53 years after Beverley Franklin first drew a map of what she thought the 30-kilometer trail could look like, the extension to Fundy National Park will finally have a soft opening in the next two weeks.

We drove some 90 minutes from Saint John, 13 kilometers past Adair’s Wilderness Lodge (which I suggest you type into your GPS) to reach the East Gate of the Fundy Trail Parkway. Within 5 minutes, we were at our first stop, Walton Glen Gorge, where the granite stretches 200 meters high and the gorge spans some 900 meters. Walk the short kilometer walk to the observation tower and you’ll soon be staring in awe at the Little Salmon River as it surges through the Eye of the Needle. Across from you are sheer rock cliffs and to your right the green mountains slope to the Bay of Fundy in the distance.

The waters of the Bay of Fundy will be by your side the rest of the day. Try to arrive at the gate when it opens at 9 am because you’ll need a full day to see all the mesmerizing sights before the trail closes at 5 pm. A series of lookouts soon follow on the left as you peer down at the verdant slopes sliding into sea, not unlike the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton. It only gets better from here. Long Beach is a marvel to behold, stretching about a third of a mile out to sea at low tide, when you can walk some 2 kilometers on a loop. It was honestly hard to tear me away from this spot, as we found colorful green, gray, and granite pebbles, fantastic rock formations, and ripples of sand on the ocean floor that would be awash in water in a matter of hours. Edward Weston would have a field day here and so would any other photographer.

Fundy Trail ParkwayFor lunch, head to the Cookhouse for a fantastic turkey sandwich, where the meat is processed by chef Tracy’s turkey farmer neighbor on bread that was baked that morning. Afterwards, opt for the insanely good molasses cake or a slice of bumbleberry pie as you walk around peering at the century-old photographs of loggers cutting down the cherished white pine to build tall masts at the shipping port of Saint John. Then work off lunch by climbing across the suspension bridge at Salmon River, where one old-timer told me the waters were once teeming with so much salmon you could practically walk across the river. There’s one last requisite stop at Fuller Falls to see the water cascading down the slick rock into the Bay of Fundy before arriving at the West Gate and the seaside town of St. Martins.

Mitchell Franklin had to face much adversity to make his dream a reality, but he’ll be happy to know that it’s finally come to fruition. I can’t wait to return to bike the parkway and then go sea kayaking at Fundy National Park.