I hear the chainsaw before I see it. It comes as a surprise and my eyes meet those of my travel companions–the only humans I’ve seen on this remote east-coast trail over the past few days–but the growling sound is unmistakable and growing louder as we make our way through the forest to its source.
A few minutes and one stream crossing later, we find a familiar face: Alonzo Léger. The retired teacher has been walking back and forth along the entire Fundy Footpath for thirty years, freshening the white paint lines (aka blazes) on the trees that mark the way. The trail was first blazed in the 1980′s, but backcountry hiking didn’t yet enjoy today’s popularity, and the trail eventually fell into disuse.
In the time since, only the most diehard backcountry hikers have been able to enjoy the stunning path. But with the recent arrival of World Expeditions and their Great Canadian Trails program, a tight-knit local community is placing their bets that this secluded coastline will rejuvenate the area in a way that hasn’t been since the logging boom of the 1930s. (The Fundy Footpath is on Robin Esrock’s Great Canadian Bucket List and is not be confused with the Fundy Trail, which despite its misleading name is actually the serpentine, paved road that weaves along the Bay of Fundy.)
Until now, the Footpath has required hikers to carry a full pack up and down a series of 100-300m cliffs, across creeks, and muddy tidal crossings; making it quite a strenuous undertaking. Great Canadian Trails has taken away the burden of a full pack and has instead arranged luggage transfers to each beach-side campsite, allowing you to enjoy a fully-supported trek bearing only the weight of a day pack.
“This will be the next generation’s hidden gem,” says John Adair, who runs Adair’s Wilderness Lodge. The lodge serves as home base for the tour’s cheerful send-off into the path and it is our comforting refuge when we emerge from it four days later.
I spent a few years of my childhood in a cube-shaped farmhouse in rural New Brunswick, and would later return to the province to work as a reporter for the Telegraph Journal. It’s a province for which I hold deep affection, but it’s not without its foibles. Yet I was still taken aback by how much variety in landscape New Brunswick had. The Fundy Footpath is a unique and impressive 49 kilometer section of the Trans Canada Trail; we traipsed through undulating Appalachian foothills, sandy beaches and foggy ancient forests.
“The outdoors is my church,” says Léger, who admits he gets lost more often in the city than in the woods. But Léger hopes that the footpath’s growing visibility will not just attract outsiders; he hopes it inspires more of the province’s own populace to get active outdoors.
I hope it will too. New Brunswick turned out to be so much more than I thought it was, and I was no stranger to New Brunswick to begin with.
Hike the Fundy Footpath
World Expeditions offers a comprehensive eight day tour of the region, which includes four fully-supported days on the trail. Trips fill up fast, so they recommend booking early. DAY 1 - Depart Moncton. Sightseeing the Fundy Coast DAY 2 - Day hikes in Fundy National Park DAY 3 - St. Martins and Fundy Trail Parkway DAYS 4/7 - Hiking the Fundy Footpath DAY 8 - Tour ends upon return to Moncton
World Expeditions has competitive airfares to get you to the starting point of your adventure. Contact them for a full quotation including airfares, stopovers and any additional travel you wish to organize pre or post tour.
*6 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 5 dinners *professional wilderness guides and support staff * all group camping equipment *sleeping bags and mats * all meals while on trails *private transportation throughout *All national park fees, camping fees, and entrance fees *comprehensive group first aid kit *emergency radio/Sat phone *applicable taxes *$100 donation to the Trans Canada Trail.