On a recent trip to Saint John, New Brunswick, we made Uptown Saint John our base and rented hybrid bicycles for $50/day from Consolvo Bikes for day trips.We only had a few short days in Saint John, so we packed in as much as we could.
After wandering around the quaint uptown section of Saint John, we drove for just under an hour northeast along route 111, which offered picturesque views along the way, especially of the Sea Caves at St. Martins, with the striking red beach and rock.
Our destination was the Fundy Trail Parkway, a beautiful, low-traffic park road (paved) that offers a plethora of stunning vistas and plenty of short, scenic walks. A full day is really needed if you want to make the most of your visit, though we packed in a lot with a half day visit.
For a $10/person entrance fee, we received a detailed map at the Parkway entrance. The scale of the map is misleading, (points of interest are closer to each other than the map might leave you to believe) and many of the scenic stops can be missed if you’re in a car and zip by the discreet signposts.
If you want to cycle the paved road (which you share with the occasional car), consider leaving your vehicle at the entrance, cycling the 10kms to the Interpretive Centre to enjoy the views and short walk/stops along the way, and then have one of your party hitch a ride back to your car to save you from another challenging cycle trip, this time in reverse.
There are several long hills with memorable inclines & declines on the Parkway (it is a rugged, winding coastline), and when you build in the time for photos of the Bay of Fundy, lunch, cycling those challenging inclines, and walking stops (such as at Fuller Falls, the Big Salmon River Suspension Bridge, or the very pretty Sea Captain’s Burial ground), the day goes very quickly.
Even though it is advertised on the Parkway website that there is cycling off-road on the walking trails, from what we saw and experienced, you’d have to be one bloody amazing athlete to pull that off.
There are places along the paved, serene roadside where you can easily and briefly “off-road” it, but if you try to stay solely on those trails, they ultimately lead to root-gnarled, steep, rock-strewn narrow hiking paths (some with cable stairs, like at Fuller Falls) that even in my most wild, youthful days I wouldn’t have wanted to tackle as a full-day experience. TIPS: bring water and snacks, there are no stores in the Parkway, though there are cafes at the St. Martins Red Rock Sea Caves.
We also visited Irving Nature Park, with our bicycles, a very scenic spot just 10 minutes from downtown Saint John. There is no cost to enter the park, but on weekends the place is very popular.
The road is gravel and therefore dusty in the dry summer if you are sharing it with a stream of visiting vehicles. We cycled the 6km gravel loop late in the afternoon, so traffic was, thankfully, scarce. The park was peaceful, and silent save for the skitter of squirrels and the chirp of birds.
There are trails you can mountain-bike, with varying degrees of challenge. Most of them are pretty level and close enough to the main gravel road so that if you want a break from bumping over roots and dodging between trees, you can readily cut back to the road.
The picturesque coves en-route, the iconic boardwalk at the start of the loop, and the views of the Fundy make it all very worthwhile. There is also the very scenic Sand Cove beach before the entrance to the gravel loop, with a fantastic sandy stretch offering splendid views of Manawagonish Island.