Located in Southern New Brunswick, the Fundy Trail Parkway is a 2,559-hectare park that features an unbelievably beautiful 30-kilometre (19 miles) drive that hugs the coastline of the Bay of Fundy. Taking more than two decades to fully complete, this drive is now one of the best road trips in Canada, offering stunning views of the Bay of Fundy, an array of hiking and biking trails, beautiful waterfalls, three lovely beaches, more than 20 gorgeous lookout points, a 60-metre suspension bridge, a massive canyon, and more than 600-million-year-old rock formations. The Fundy Trail Parkway is also part of the UNESCO Fundy Biosphere Reserve, Stonehammer Geopark and the Trans Canada Trail.
It truly is a gorgeous place for a road trip, so if you’re keen on visiting New Brunswick, continue on to learn more about this popular attraction.
Fundy Trail Parkway History
While we certainly recommend a brief stop at the two interpretive centres to learn more about the Fundy Trail Parkway, sometimes it’s helpful to know some history before you go.
The Fundy Trail Parkway owes its existence to Dr. Mitchell Franklin, a New Brunswick businessman and philanthropist who had the vision and political connections to encourage the creation and preservation of the corridor between Fundy National Park and St. Martins. In the late 1980s when Frank McKenna became premier, the dream became a reality with his considerable help.
The first phase of the Fundy Parkway began in 1995 and opened in August 1998. Construction continued on as more money became available, but it took many years to progress. By 2010, the parkway went as far as Long Beach Lookout and it wasn’t until 2016 that there was access to a 0.7 km footpath to the falls on Long Beach Brook and an easy connection to the Fundy Footpath which then links the Big Salmon River to Fundy National Park.
Between 2015 and 2017, the final 11 kilometres of the Fundy Parkway were completed with all the necessary facilities between Long Beach and the Walton Glen Gorge Falls area. However, it wasn’t until May 2020 when the upgrades were done to the roads to Sussex, Alma and Fundy National Park, finally completing the project once and for all.
Fundy Trail Parkway Travel Video
In July 2022, we travelled the Fundy Trail Parkway to make a video about all the things to do on one of Canada’s most scenic road trips. Please enjoy.
How To Get There
The Fundy Trail Parkway is located in the southern part of New Brunswick, right along the coastline of the Bay of Fundy. There are two gates, one on the west side and one on the east side. You can start and end from either direction.
West Gate: The west gate is located just minutes from the popular and scenic town of St. Martins, which is about 45 minutes south of Saint John.
East Gate: The east gate is located near Sussex, New Brunswick. If you’re coming from other popular Bay of Fundy attractions such as Hopewell Rocks and Fundy National Park, this is the gate you’ll be entering from. In fact, one of the features of the “grand opening” is a road that comes from Alma and cuts through Fundy National Park.
There are essentially three ways to access the parkway now that it has been completed. You can either enter the west gate via St. Martins, or you can enter the east gate from either Sussex or via the new connector road from Alma.
Cost to access the Fundy Parkway Trail
Rates as of 2022 are $11 for adults, $9 for seniors 65 and older, and $6 for youth (5-18 years old). Kids under 5 are free. There is also a family rate of $34 that includes 2 adults and up to 5 youth. You can also buy season passes. The season pass also gives you a 25% discount at eleven other New Brunswick attractions.
Fundy Trail Parkway Opening times
The Fundy Trail Parkway is a gated parkway, which means you need to be out before the gates close.
It is open seasonally beginning the Friday of the Victoria Day long weekend and closes in mid-October.
Although times can change, as of 2022, these are the hours of operation.
- May 21 – Jun 25: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
- Jun 26 – Aug 22: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm.
- Aug 23 – Sep 6: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm.
- Sep 7 – Oct 16: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Map of the Fundy Trail Parkway
There are many ways to see a Fundy Trail Parkway Map. We’ll post a photo of it below but you can also download it here or pick one up when you enter the park.
Things to Do on the Fundy Parkway
Despite being only 30 kilometres in length, there are a lot of things to do and sights to see along the Fundy Trail Parkway. Whether you just want to stop at the various viewpoints, learn some history at the interpretive centres, or go on some stunning hikes, there is something for everyone. In fact, there’s also a trail that runs parallel to the parkway itself and is popular with people who want to explore the area by foot or by bike.
While you can certainly learn more on the Fundy Parkway website, we’ll lay out all the best things to do below.
There are two interpretive centres along the Fundy Parkway. The main one is the Big Salmon River Interpretive Centre, which features a small display where you can learn about the history of the area as well as a short movie that showcases some of the history and how the trail came to be. There’s also a boutique, interpreters, and daily programs to learn about the fascinating local and natural history. Guided walks are also available and you’ll find some light snacks to purchase as well as washrooms. The second interpretive centre is the Long Beach Interpretive Centre, which also features a small area to learn about some of the natural histories of the area. You might also meet Beverly Franklin, a tireless volunteer and the daughter of the man who spearheaded the park.
Big Salmon River and the Suspension Bridge
This stop is popular for a number of reasons. First, it’s home to the Big Salmon River Interpretive Centre, which is a great place to learn more about the park and ask any questions you may have. Second, it’s where you’ll find the suspension bridge that everyone loves to cross. Third, this is where many people start the Fundy Footpath and go on multi-day hikes. Lastly, this is also close to the Cookhouse, Heritage Sawmill Display and School Foundation, as well as a picnic area that is sometimes home to live music performances.
Visit the Grand Canyon of New Brunswick
This is one of the most impressive sights in the park. Although it once required a very tiring hike to reach, it’s now reached by an easy 15-minute walk from the parking lot.
If you start your drive at the east gate of the Fundy Trail Parkway, the Walton Glen area is pretty much the first stop. If you’re coming from the west gate, it’ll be your last stop before turning around or exiting the park.
The first place to start would be the Walton Glen Reception Centre. This is where you can ask questions, buy a few snacks, learn about the area from the interpretive panels, and/or use the bathroom.
The observation deck that looks out over the Walton Glen Gorge is easily reached via a mostly flat 1.1 km one-way hike (or 2.3 km one-way if you take the longer route). The trail is well-marked and easy to follow. For serious hikers, there’s also a path that leads down to the bottom of the gorge that is called the Eye of the Needle. However, it is not officially part of the park and is quite strenuous. Many people have attempted this with little experience and have had to be rescued, so please ask before you go.
In addition to the gorge itself, this is also where you can visit the beautiful McLeod Brook Falls, which we’ll discuss below.
Stop at the Lookout Points
Even if you’re not into hiking, the Fundy Trail Parkway is a great road trip because it features 21 scenic lookout points, making it easy to pull off and see some of the most beautiful areas of the park. Some of these lookout points have picnic tables as well, giving you many opportunities to enjoy a meal with an incredible view.
Walk to the Observation Decks
In addition to the 21 lookout points, there are also 15 Observation Decks. Although they are similar to a lookout point, the decks often require a short hike or a climb down a cable ladder as they are typically off trails within the park.
Visit the Beautiful Waterfalls
New Brunswick is home to many waterfalls and the Fundy Trail Parkway is no different. There are four waterfalls along the parkway, all requiring different amounts of effort to reach.
Fuller Falls: This 15-metre waterfall is one of the most popular along the parkway thanks to its beauty and how easy it is to reach. The falls can be seen from the upper viewing area, which is very close to the parking area or for those looking to get closer, you can take a cable ladder to the lookout landing at the bottom, which only adds a few more minutes.
Long Beach Brook Falls: This smaller waterfall is also beautiful and can be seen by taking a 1-kilometre walk. Although fairly easy, the trail is rated as moderate and has a couple of steep sections.
McLeod Brook Falls: This was our favourite waterfall as it is surrounded by beautiful green ferns and has a jungle-like feel to it. Starting and ending at the Walton Glen Reception Centre, this loop trail can be combined with a visit to the Walton Glen Gorge Observation Deck. It is fairly easy but does have more than 100 stairs leading down to the falls and a few river crossings as well. However, these river crossings are short and there’s a rope and some logs/rocks to help you cross.
Walton Glen Gorge Falls: Also located at Walton Glen Gorge, this waterfall can be seen from the Observation Deck itself. They are considered to be the second highest waterfalls in New Brunswick.
Spend Time on the Beaches
With so much coastline, there are also lots of beaches to enjoy. As long as you’re not expecting warm Caribbean water and white sand, you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise.
There are seven beaches to enjoy during your visit to the Fundy Trail Parkway and each one is unique in its own way.
Long Beach: As you may have guessed from the name, this is a really long beach, especially at low tide. It’s the most popular beach along the Fundy Parkway as it’s easily accessible and home to the Long Beach Interpretive Centre, which also has washrooms. There are also many picnic tables and an interesting hike that can only be done during low tide. This beach is also one of the top places in Canada to witness and experience a spectacular horizontal tide. At low tide, this beach extends for half a kilometre or about a third of a mile into the Bay of Fundy, exposing a two and a half kilometre or one-and-a-half-mile long shoreline and a large swath of ocean floor that is perfect for exploring. Very cool and highly recommended!
Melvin Beach: This smaller secluded and beautiful beach can be reached via a set of stairs. This is a generally quiet rocky beach. When we were there, some kayakers had just pulled in to enjoy a picnic.
Pangburn Beach: Accessible at low tide only from Melvin Beach, this pristine beach is worth the visit. But remember, check the tide schedule before venturing over!
Big Salmon River Beach: This river beach can be enjoyed from the river or near the Bay. Simply cross the suspension bridge by taking the Suspension Bridge Trail by the Interpretive Centre.
Seely Beach: Seely Beach is a relatively flat cobble beach. At low tide, Seely Brook extends out across the beach reaching the bay.
The other two beaches are Cradle Brook Beach and Little Salmon River Beach.
The Fundy Trail Parkway is a great place to go hiking. There are about 21 hiking paths in the park, ranging from easy and flat to strenuous and steep. We won’t go into all of them here but we will go over the hiking paths that we’ve done ourselves.
Flowerpot Rock Scenic Footpath: Starting around Fownes Head Lookout, this simple path offers views of the beautiful Flowerpot Rock formations. It is ranked as moderate due to the stairs but is relatively easy and only 1.5 km in length (return).
Long Beach Brook Falls Loop: This trail takes you through the mossy forest and to a beautiful waterfall. You’ll zigzag down hills and walk along the river for part of the way as well. It is a lovely hike and is ranked as moderate to strenuous due to the fact that you need to go up and downhill. However, for anyone in moderate shape, we found it quite easy. This trail is 2.2 km in length (return) and you should allow yourself two hours.
Low Tide Loop: This trail takes you through the forest with views of the Bay of Fundy and across part of Long Beach. However, this trail is only possible during low tide, so please check the tide schedule or ask for help from one of the park workers. We recommend starting with the forest as well. We started on the beach and couldn’t find the path leading into the forest, so we did not complete this entire hike. However, we did spend hours walking along the beach, which was great. This trail is marked as moderate and is 2 km in length (return).
Macleod Brook Falls Loop: This was our favourite hike as the waterfall streaming down the cliff while surrounded by jungle-like ferns is just magical. It starts near the Walton Glen Gorge reception area and can be combined with the Walton Glen Gorge Observation Deck. Allow yourself 2.5 hours to complete this almost 4-km trail, which is marked as strenuous.
Walton Glen Gorge Trail: This mostly flat and wide trail leads you to the observation deck that looks over the Grand Canyon of New Brunswick. There are two trails to reach the observation deck. Both are rated as easy with the longer one marked at 2.3km return and the shorter one marked at 1.1 km return. We opted to do the Macleod Brook Falls Loops followed by the shorter route to the observation deck.
Hearst Lodge Scenic Footpath: This trail starts at the suspension bridge. We did some of it but did not have time to complete it. However, we’ve heard nothing but good things about this hike. This trail is the old Salmon River Road. Continue up the hill and you will see the sign for Hearst Lodge Trail on your left. The distance for this trail is 2.6 km one-way, giving it a ranking of moderate to strenuous.
The 64-km (40 miles) Fundy Footpath, which was listed as one of the 50 Best Hikes in the World by Explore Magazine, is separate from the Fundy Trail Parkway but does cut through a portion of the Fundy Parkway. The footpath is a challenging wilderness trail that starts at the suspension bridge at Big Salmon River and hugs the coastline to the boundaries of Fundy National Park. This hike takes upwards of five days.
During our visit to the Fundy Trail Parkway, we noticed people biking on the trails next to the highway. One older gentleman told us he leaves from his home in St. Martins and does the Fundy Parkway to the end and back in a full day. It looked awesome and we hope to do it one day!
However, please note that the trails are often mix-use, so you’ll need to watch out for hikers. There are also lots of hills to climb with grades of up to 17%.
Explore St. Martins
St. Martins is a lovely seaside town that makes for a great base when exploring the Fundy Trail Parkway. It’s only 45-minutes south of Saint John and is home to the very popular St. Martin Sea Caves (another great way to truly experience the changing tides), covered bridges, and sea captain’s mansions. This was our base for three nights and we stayed at Beach Street Inn, a lovely boutique bed & breakfast near the Sea Caves. They also have one of the best restaurants in the area, giving you an easy and delicious place to enjoy supper.
Alma is another popular little town on the Bay of Fundy that also serves as the gateway to Fundy National Park. It is located on the eastern side of the Fundy Trail Parkway and is close to popular attractions such as Cape Enrage and Hopewell Rocks.
Explore Fundy National Park
Located just above the Fundy Trail Parkway next to the east gate, Fundy National Park is full of pristine forests, waterfalls, hiking trails, and deluxe campgrounds. It’s also a great place to experience the world’s highest tides, which can include kayaking the waters as they ruse up to 12 metres or more. When tides are down, you can walk the otherworldly ocean floor. There are many things to do here, both in winter and in summer, so visit the Parks Canada website for more information.
Where to Eat
If you plan to spend the entire day (or multiple days) within the Fundy Trail Parkway, you’ll need to have some plans on where and what to eat. There are no restaurants within the Fundy Parkway and going all the way to St. Martins just to eat would be inefficient.
Instead, we would recommend either packing your own food to enjoy a picnic at one of the many lookout points and beaches, booking a Lumberjack Picnic (we’ll talk about this below), or having your accommodation prepare something to bring with you. We stayed at the Beach Street Inn and they prepared us a big picnic that came in an insulated backpack with plates, cutlery, and everything else we could possibly need.
Located near the Big Salmon River Interpretive Centre is the Cookhouse, a replica of buildings used in the late 1800s when the Big Salmon River was a thriving lumbering community. It was an important gathering place where the hard workers would eat a lot of food to sustain them throughout the day. Nowadays, this is where you can grab your Lumberjack Picnic or, if you’re visiting on Saturdays and Sundays between July 1st and September, you can enjoy a family-style lumberjack breakfast for $19, which includes 3 eggs, 3 slices of bacon, 3 sausages, 3 slices of ham, 3 pancakes with either maple syrup or Crosby’s molasses, fresh bread, baked beans, home fries, coffee and tea. We could easily share this between the two of us.
As for the Lumberjack Picnic, these can be ordered ahead of time for $17 per person. Pick up your picnic between 11 am and 1 pm and when you leave, drop off the pail at any of the staffed facilities. This is an easy way to enjoy food without having it sitting in your car all day. However, we found it to be a little lacklustre as it only included a cold sandwich, an apple, water, and lemonade. However, I think they might have forgotten the molasses cookie that is mentioned on the website, as that would have been a good bonus!
More Things to Do in Atlantic Canada
We’re no strangers to New Brunswick. Canada’s Maritimes is a special place and we love visiting Eastern Canada as much as we can. For more ideas on what to do in New Brunswick and in Atlantic Canada, check out these guides below: