The Fundy Trail Parkway is a MUST SEE destination when exploring New Brunswick, but the Fundy Trail Parkway in the Fall? Oh my goodness, it was meant to be experienced in October!
The Fundy Trail Parkway was my first Bay of Fundy adventure in 2020, but all summer long, I was dreaming of getting back to explore it with Dan in peak fall colours. And this past weekend, we made it happen and the universe delivered the most perfect weather to enjoy the salty air, dreamy coastlines and rocky beaches.
I couldn’t wait to share our day trip with all of you, just in case you’re looking for a scenic fall drive right here in our beautiful province. And while it’s not the Cabot Trail, it’s still guaranteed to take your breath away. I mean, I might be a little biased but I’ll take sea caves and otherworldly canyons that are only 1.5 hours away from home any day.
Note: The Fundy Trail Parkway’s last day of the 2020 season is Saturday, October 17th so make sure to plan your visit before then!
And now—my favourite itinerary for an October day trip to St. Martins and the Fundy Trail when leaving and returning to Moncton, New Brunswick. Not leaving from Moncton? Just tweak this plan accordingly but trust me when I say – every stop from coffee to schnitzel is worth it.
COFFEE ON THE ROAD
If you’re planning a visit to St. Martins and the Fundy Trail this October, you may want to plan ahead! While there are some restaurants still open, some favourites like my go-to—the Shipyard Cafe for lattes and cookies—are closed for the season. The same goes for bathroom facilities. You might have a hard time finding a pee stop in St. Martins and be forced to wait until you’re on the parkway.
My advice? Stop in Sussex for a pee stop and caffeine top-up! The Irving in Sussex Corner off the highway is sparkling clean and a great potty stop. After you can cruise into downtown Sussex and if lattes are your thing, stop at Taste and See Stable Grounds Cafe on Main Street to grab coffee and sweets to go. Their Salted Caramel Latte is DIVINE!
SEA CAVES AND LATTES
The town of St. Martins and its world-famous sea caves are about 45 minutes from downtown Sussex and the drive is beautiful this time of year. I mean, it’s beautiful any time of year, but with the fall colours and pumpkin patches along the route—it’s packing some extra charm these days.
Once you arrive in St. Martins, might I recommend a stroll on the beach at the sea caves before venturing onto the trail? Low tide or high tide, the caves are currently off-limits due to falling rocks in September so they’re best enjoyed from the shore. At high tide, strolling the shore and breathing in the salty air is highly recommended. Trust me, it’s good for the soul.
THE FUNDY TRAIL PARKWAY
The Fundy Trail Parkway begins about 10km from St. Martins and is a 30km parkway worth dedicating a whole day or at the very least, an afternoon. Obviously, this wasn’t our first visit and we’ve been here several times before, so we began our adventure on the trail at noon and had plenty of time to stop at our favourite lookouts and haunts.
Here they are with our take on how long you should dedicate to visiting each!
Fox Rock Lookout
This is the first lookout in the park and has some stunning fall views this time of year, including a fantastic look at some of the Bay of Fundy’s dramatic rocky cliffs.
We spent about 5 minutes here!
Melvin Beach Lookout
This lookout is a must and honestly—you could spend 5 minutes here or 30 minutes just starring at this picturesque beach and turquoise waters that look like they couldn’t possibly exist here.
We spent about 10 minutes here!
Pangburn Beach Lookout
Another favourite of mine. What can I say? I’m a beach girl with a love of any otherworldly view that looks like New Brunswick could be Hawaii. And I always tell people, if you’re going to only squeeze in a handful of lookout stops, make sure that Melvin and Pangburn are on your list.
We spent about 10 minutes here! The parking lot is across the street from the lookout. Just cross the street, walk down the steps and go to the lookout deck on the right. That’s where you will get the money shot!
Black Point Lookout
Stop here for a stunning view of the cliffs that separate Pangburn Beach from Melvin Beach. Just make sure that once you park, you walk about one minute up to the lookout. Trust me, it’s worth it!
We spent about 5 minutes here!
Big Salmon River Suspension Bridge
One of the great things about the Fundy Trail is that there are plenty of spots to stop and have the most scenic picnic ever. The park is full of picnic tables, so just pack a picnic lunch, some sanitizer, a table cloth and you’re all set! We opted to have lunch at the top of the entrance to Big Salmon River on The Green (Parking Lot 6) and enjoy some ocean views from above before driving down to Parking Lot 8 (P8) to go explore the river and suspension bridge.
This is such a great little spot to explore and enjoy. While some families could likely spend all day there, we stayed for about an hour or so to enjoy our lunch, snap some photos along the river, and try to catch a glimpse of one of the salmon that call the river home. (Sadly, no dice on the salmon spotting!)
Long Beach is the easiest beach to access on the parkway with no hiking required. It’s fun at high and low tide. This was my first time seeing it at high tide but I was still able to collect some cute seashells and soak in the sunshine.
I recommend spending anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending on how much of the beach you want to explore. They also have a very cute education center with activities and games for people of all ages, which is great for families.
Long Beach is also an awesome picnic spot and has great bathroom facilities!
Martin Head Lookout
This one is a quick pullover lookout but it’s worth the stop! You get a stunning view of the coastline and it’s one of the last good stops before you start heading inland towards the Walton Glen Gorge lookout and the Eastern park exit. It’s also a great photo op for the whole family to remember your Fundy Trail adventure.
We spent about 5 minutes here!
The Walton Glen Gorge Lookout
Last but certainly not least, one of the park’s most notable and main attractions: the Walton Glen Gorge lookout.
Nicknamed the Grand Canyon of New Brunswick, you can experience the Walton Glen Gorge two ways:
By hiking at your own risk down the sides of waterfalls and cliffs to see it from the bottom via the Eye of the Needle, as it’s named. Not for the out of shape or faint of heart. Trust me on this one—I hiked it back in 2017 and my legs are still sore.
Or you see it from above by taking a short 1.1km one-way stroll through the woods to the absolutely incredible observation deck new that just opened this year! Honestly, this viewing deck made the whole experience that much better because you get an elevated view and vantage point unlike no other.
Trust me on this one, it’ll take your breath away. Oh and you get to enjoy the tallest waterfall in New Brunswick when it’s flowing, which it was during our visit.
We stayed here for about an hour, hike to the lookout included!
LEAVING THE PARK
The park closes at 5:00pm and the gates are locked at that time, so whatever you do, make sure you plan your day around exiting either the Western (St. Martins) or Eastern (to Sussex Corner) exit by 5:00pm. And if you’re planning to end your day at the Walton Glen Gorge like we did, try to get there by 3:30-4:00pm to ensure you’re not rushed.
The new connector road from the Eastern Exit to Sussex Corner is gorgeous! Absolutely perfect scenic drive to end your visit and the leaves along it this time of year? STUNNING!
You’ll pass popular destinations like Adair’s Wilderness Lodge and Poley Mountain Ski Hill before finding yourself back in Sussex. I’d say it was about a 30-35 minute drive from the park.
GERMAN TAKEOUT ON THE DRIVE HOME
How do you end the perfect Fall day? With a stop at Gasthof Old Bavarian Restaurant in Knightville, of course!
This restaurant is easily one of the best dining experiences in New Brunswick and if you’re uncomfortable dining in these days, trust me when I say their takeout is just as delicious. We called ahead at noon to pre-order our dinner for pick-up at 5:30 and brought it back home. Just pop it in the oven to warm it up and serve.
My must-try dish? The Cream of Mushroom Schnitzel. It was featured on “You Gotta Eat Here” and is totally what dreams are made of.
The restaurant is only open Friday through Sunday, and calling ahead whether for reservations or takeout is highly recommended. Whether you make it part of your Fall adventure or plan to visit this winter, just make sure you do!
As another season of Fundy Trail adventures comes to an end, believe me when I say, I’ll be dreaming of this magical piece of our province until next summer.
Hoping to squeeze in a visit before the 18th? I’d be happy to answer any questions that you might have. Just DM on my shell phone 🐚