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Kouchibouguac National Park is a relative secret within Canada, perhaps a correlation to the difficulty in pronouncing the park’s name. Located on the east coast of New Brunswick in Kouchibouguac, this beautiful park contains sand dunes, barrier islands, salt marshes, forests, and more. These diverse ecosystems provide the ideal environment for a number of rare species including the piping plover, fisher marten, and Gulf of St. Lawrence aster, in addition to more common species like harbour seals, and grey seals. At 238 square kilometres, the park is far from the biggest national park in Canada, but you would never know it from the myriad of activities accessible to visitors. An average visit to the park could yield voyageur-style canoeing, seal watching, camping, biking, hiking, and kayaking.
The park’s name is derived from Mi’qmak language to reflect the Mi’qmak people that walked and paddled in the area thousands of years before colonization. Today, the park still has a number of exhibitions and lectures on the history of the peoples that have called Kouchibouguac home.
Check out some of our favourite park activities for those of you who are inclined to visit these golden sand dunes, estuaries, warm beaches, and majestic woods; which should be, like, everyone.
The Boardwalk at Kelly’s Beach
This One Kilometer boardwalk at Kelly’s Beach is one of the most popular and visually stunning aspects of the park. While “interpretive signs” don’t sound like much fun, read them as you walk along the boardwalk to get a proper understanding of how incredibly fragile the area is.
Paddle a Voyageur Canoe
Kouchibouguac offers Voyageur Canoe Experiences from mid-June to mid-September. Not only do you get to pretend you’re one of those badasses on the Maudite label, but you get to learn about Mi’kmaq and Acadian culture while doing so. Osprey, bald eagles, and barking grey seals are sure to come in sight along the way, so get your hands on a waterproof case for your iPhone before you get out there.
Major Kollock Bike Trail
The parks trails are well maintained, so folks of any skill level can cycle past fields of wildflowers, peat bogs, lagoons, and historical Acadian woodland. Bike alongside the Kouchibouguac River to get a photo of the famous Leaning Pine at Sandstone Garden, or, find the “bridge under the bridge” on the Black River.
Cross Country Ski on 15 Kilometres of Trail
Kouchibouguac has some of the best cross country and skate ski trails in New Brunswick, featuring seven warming huts with firewood on hand. Bring some hot chocolate to keep you warm and have a better winter day than all of your friends. Alternatively, bring your snowshoes and explore the marked and unmarked trails within the park.
Hike the Kouchibouguac River Trail
There are nine designated hiking trails within the park for all skills and fitness levels, but the best is perhaps the longest, the Kouchibouguac River trail. Beginning at Kelly’s Beach, this trail passes the leaning pine, coves, panoramic views, and quiet woods.
Stay in an o’TENTik
oTENTik cabins pretty close to glamping. More of a cabin than a tent, and equipped with beds and furniture on a raised floor, O’Tentiks are about as good as it gets in the backcountry of National Parks – all for about $100 a night. Currently, they’re not available in the winter — but should be sooner than later.
Open: Year round
Getting There: Located on New Brunswick’s Acadian Coastal Drive, an hour north of Moncton, or a four-hour drive from the Quebec border.
Cost: During peak season, admission is under $8 for any age.
Camping: Backcountry fees are $10 a night, while campsites costs depend on the services provided. Consult the fees on the Parks Canada website.
Safety: Be sure to be bear safe and bring all of your backcountry essentials if you plan to overnight away from a campground.