Travel: The fundamentals of discovery at the Bay of Fundy

I’m not surprised to find out that The Bay of Fundy is one of North America’s seven wonders.

The 320-kilometre-long waterway divides the province of Nova Scotia from New Brunswick and is home to rare whales, semi-precious minerals and the world’s highest tides.

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The amount of daily water that goes in and out of this geological wonder actually surpasses the combined flow of all the freshwater rivers on our planet.

Yes, this gem has earned the accolades.

Although we could join others and kayak the island-speckled bays where seals and porpoises hang out, or hop on a zodiac ride for whale of a time, we decide to view the craggy coastlines, dramatic rock faces, and other local treasures while being grounded to Mother Earth.

Here are three of our favourite tromping spots.

The Fundy Trail Parkway is a 2,559-hectare parkway in New Brunswick — a short drive from the quaint seaside town of St. Martins.

A 19 km winding roadway that weaves over the rugged terrain and loops around the picturesque coast is host to 20 scenic outlooks — each one is steeped with visual rewards.

Some boast vistas of steep-sided cliffs, others scalloped beaches and many with picnic tables where you can relax and drink in the beautiful backdrop of Fundy Bay.

Over our three-hour visit, we cling to a cabled ladder that descends the steep hillside near Fuller Falls, jostle over an 84 metre suspension bridge that spans Salmon River, check out the interpretive centre where there’s an overview of this area’s once-thriving, long-gone logging community and hike a few trails that loop around this lovely landscape.

And while we’re led through second growth stands, across boardwalks and bridges and down steps to expansive sandy strips, heartier hikers choose to hoof the Fundy Footpath, a jaunt that’s less travelled but acclaimed by Explore magazine to be one of the 50 best hikes in the world.

This challenging walk-in-the-wilderness hugs the coastline and threads through this pretty parkway all the way to our next must-see, the neighbouring Fundy National Park.

Calling all campers, beachcombers and birdwatchers. This recreation icon offers something for everyone, especially us hikers.

Twelve kilometres of shoreline rims this verdant oasis and 120-kilometres of trails meander through it — ranging in everything from easy loops to a 50-kilometre pulse-raiser.

With a yearning to traipse by a waterfall (25 to choose from) we go with the most accessible one in the park, a 1.5-km circular route to Dickson Falls.

A lengthy boardwalk stretches out beyond a Fundy Shore lookout and leads us through a Hansel and Gretel-feel forest.

Instead of breadcrumbs, like in the childhood fairytale, interpretive signs direct our way.

Our final reward?

No, not to a candy-coated witch’s house, but those beautiful cascading falls.

Although not nearly as whimsical, our second jaunt for the day, Matthews Head, is a trail that combines the park’s natural beauty and cultural history.

From Herring Cove Road, we wander through a forest grove to an old wagon road where there are remnants of a nineteenth century homestead.

Up until 1974 this area was known as the local potato farm and experiments of the crops led to the Shepody potato, one of preferred varieties that we’ve recently enjoyed beneath our poutine.

Next up is Hopewell Rocks. Be sure to check tidal charts before venturing to this favourite Fundy haunt. It’s located at the farthest end of this massive bay, where you’ll witness the greatest tidal fluctuation.

If you come at high tide bring your kayak, as the water level can be five storeys high. If you arrive at low tide, this empty basin boasts spectacular sandstone formations that have been carved by the tidal action over thousands of years.

An informative visitors centre provides us with more in-depth explanation and overview and scaffolding-like stairs take us from the upper viewing platform to the sandy ocean floor below.

From, here we gaze up at eroded cliffs, wander beneath rocky archways, pose in front of animal-shaped sea stacks and stroll the two-kilometre long sandy beach.

It’s hard to believe that after the tide comes in, all of these amazing monoliths will be submerged, with only their green flower tops visible.

It’s even harder to imagine that this happens every six hours.

But then again, this is the awe-inspiring Bay of Fundy and one of North America’s seven wonders.

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