I never spent more than a couple hours in Fundy National Park, New Brunswick. Even when I lived in the province for two years, I never had the pleasure of staying the night in Fundy. With Athena at a really fun age and an extended stay in the province, we decided to spend a day hiking and the night camping in Fundy. Fundy National Park is located on the Bay of Fundy, near the village of Alma, New Brunswick. The park showcases a rugged coastline which rises up to the Acadian Highlands, the highest tides in the world, and more than 25 waterfalls. It covers an area of 207 km² along Chignecto Bay and the trails range from easy to difficult. In one day, we covered three family-friendly trails and canoed at Bennett Lake. We camped at Headquarters Campground and roasted marshmallows while looking down at the town of Alma. For Athena, it was a fantastic introduction to the outdoor life in New Brunswick and for Darren and I it was a reminder of why we are so proud to be from eastern Canada.
We arrived in Fundy National Park after roughly an hour drive from Moncton. The scenery was stunning with ocean vistas and grassy fields. We ate lunch in Alma before heading to our first hiking area near Point Wolfe. Rather than hiking the Point Wolfe trail, we played along the river and made our own path. The water was cold but it didn’t stop Athena from jumping and splashing around.
Our first official trail was Herring Cove Beach. This short, coastal trail is only 1 km round trip. The forest trail provided great overhead coverage and crossed a little stream and the return trail lead us to a stunning lookout. Athena loved hiking along the path and she wanted to throw rocks on the beach for more than an hour. It was low tide but we watched as the waves quickly filled the beach and washed over rocks we had sat on just a few minutes before.
The most photographed waterfall in Fundy National Park, Dickson Falls, was our last hike of the day. It was 1.5 km round trip and we started off by soaking in the beautiful view at the lookout. The trail took us down into a cool, lush valley along the swift Dickson Brook. It was easy to see why it’s the most popular trail in the park. It was simple enough for the entire family and provided picture perfect Fundy scenery.
We fished off the afternoon with a one-hour canoe adventure on Bennett Lake. There is a small company on the lake that rents canoes and kayaks. We rented a canoe for $17/hr and paddled around the entire lake. In the middle of the lake is an island where you can stop and explore. Athena’s anticipation was bubbling over as we paddled up to the island and set off into the unknown. It was only a tiny island and a short walk from one side to the other but she felt like an adventurer as she led the way. The sun was hiding behind a cloud and it was dark and mysterious, which was the ideal setting for our expedition. On the other side of the island, Athena and “Daddy” splashed each other with the fresh water and acted like we were the only people in the world.
Athena fell asleep in the car on the short drive from Bennett Lake to Headquarters campground. Everything was new and exciting and we still had our first camping experience ahead of us.
Since we’re only visiting New Brunswick, we don’t have all of our camping gear here. I found Fundy National Parks’s oTENTik experience and knew that it would work well with our situation. The Parks Canada oTENTik is a spacious blend of tent and rustic cabin equipped with beds and furniture on a raised floor. It’s not exactly roughing it but it’s a great introduction to camping and tenting. Darren and I never camped in an oTENTik before either so it was a new experience for all of us.
Outside the oTENTik was a parking space, a picnic table, two deck chairs and a charcoal BBQ. Inside, there was a table, 4 chairs, a bench, a sleeping area, a solar-powered light and a propane heater. All we needed was bedding, food and drinks, cooking gear, propane and a lighter.
Athena climbed up and down the bunk bed steps dozens of times and anxiously awaited s’mores. Since the BBQ was propane, we used waffle cones and stuffed them with marshmallows and chocolate. Wrapped in tinfoil, they roasted beautifully on the grill and tasted delicious.
As we sat in the chairs and ate our s’mores and hotdogs, we watched a pair of squirrels run and play around us. Even though we were only 1 km from the town of Alma, we felt like we were having a deep woods camping experience.
At night when it was time for sleep, Athena used her flashlight as a nightlight and we made shadow animals on the side of the tent.
It was everything I imagined our first, family camping experience including woodland creatures and delicious food around a fire followed by snuggling up in the tent while telling stories and drifting off to sleep.
The next morning, we felt rejuvenated from the fresh air and full day of activities. I knew that I would love Fundy National Park but I had no idea how family-friendly it is. With easy and medium trails, water sports, swimming, camping and a close proximity to town, Fundy is our favorite family spot in New Burnswick.