Over the past few years I have passed by Kouchibouquac National Park on my way to Moncton every couple of months and each time I think about dropping in and having a look around. Although I have visited lots of parks in other countries during my years working abroad, I have not ventured out for hiking in my home province. Yesterday, on our way back from Moncton, I convinced Florian who is not really interested in hiking, to stop by the park for a quick visit.
The park offers several short walking trails, longer hiking treks and biking routes. Our time was limited, so after visiting the information center we opted for three short trails that the receptionist recommended for a day trip.
From the entrance we drove to the Kelly’s Beach, one of the most visited places in the park, according to the receptionist. The large parking lot was empty which indicated that not many people would be enjoying the beach and we would have it to ourselves. The well-maintained wooden walkway to the beach protects the piping plover, an endangered species, that return each spring to nest near the dunes and lagoon system. The boardwalk also has some informative plaques explaining the local flora and fauna.
The road leading to Kelly’s Beach.
This is me on the boardwalk.
Florian posing for a photo on the way to the beach.
View of the wetlands where the piping plover nest in the spring.
Lots of plants flourishing in the wetlands.
Some plants are changing color, announcing the arrival of fall.
How did this one lonely tree end up in the wetlands?
The marsh with the forest in the background.
The crossover point of where the marshes change to forest.
Some seabirds enjoying a fall day along the lagoon shores.
Florian with a lagoon in the background.
We strolled 1.2 km along the walkway above the salt-marsh grass toward the lagoons and eventually to the South Kouchibouquac Dune and a view of the Northumberland Straight. There were lots of seabirds enjoying the cooler temperatures, but a few minutes at the beach was enough for me because the wind off the water was too cold, so we headed back to the starting point.
The boardwalk continues.
Will we ever reach the beach?
Finally we are at the beach with a couple of other visitors.
View of the Northumberland Straight from Kelly’s Beach.
The waters are calm.
A seabird takes off as I get too close.
Some seabirds looking for food.
The fall is not the best time to vist the beach – too chilly.
Some interesting patterns at the beach.
Next, we made our way to the Salt Marsh trail, an easy, short (0.9 Km), flat walk, that offers some pretty scenery. We could hear the sounds of birds chirping in the long grass and greenery, but we didn’t see them.
View of a lagoon at the start of the Salt Marsh trail.
One of many seabirds feeding near the shores.
The Salt Marsh trail makes its way across the salt marsh.
Florian enjoying an easy walk.
These plants are taller than me.
Is this wild wheat?
Pretty plants in the marsh.
Where are the birds?
There is something moving in the grass.
I hear something in the long grass.
The salt marsh meets the forest.
Lastly, we hiked the Beaver Trail (1.4 Km) through the forest. This trail included some parts that were on a path, but most of it is on a wooden walkway. We didn’t encounter anyone or any wildlife on this route. In the past, this was the spot to see beavers, but it looks like they abandoned their dam and it is now completely overgrown with vegetation. It was a quiet walk, similar to the walking paths near my house, so I didn’t take any photos.
We only saw a small section of the park, so I would definitely like to visit again to do the 10 Km trail along the Kouchibouquac River as well as some of the biking routes. However, Florian the non-hiker and non-biker will have to stay home or hang out at the interpretation center while I enjoy the trails.