New River Beach Provincial Park is nestled beside the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. The park’s long sand beach and crisp waters make it a popular summer destination. When winter hits, few visitors occupy the area. If you’re looking for a peaceful spot, I’d highly recommend hiking Barnaby Head Trail. A well-groomed path skirting the coast and through forest and bog terrain.
I’ve visited New River Beach several times in the past. I’d call it one of my favourite Maritime beaches. But this was my first time hiking Barnaby Head Trail. In the winter, the main beach access is closed but the nature trail remains accessible.
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About Barnaby Head Trail
Location: Haggertys Cove, New Brunswick
Distance: 6 km loop
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Elevation: 60 m elevation gain
Time: 1.5 – 2 hours
Dog-friendly: Yes, but dogs must remain on a leash.
Features: The New River Beach Nature Trail has two different loops: Chitticks Beach and Barnaby Head Trail. Gravel paths, boardwalks, stairs, and rugged terrain lead the way to the Barnaby Head lookout. You’ll find several stunning lookouts with refreshing ocean views.
Finding the Trailhead
Barnaby Head Trail begins at the New River Beach Nature Trail parking area. From Saint John, head west on Route 1 and take exit 86 toward Lepreau/Dipper Harbour. Follow Route 175 through Lepreau and turn left on Haggertys Cove Road. Then turn right onto Carrying Cove Road to the parking area. Charcoal barbecues, shelters, and toilets are available (though toilets are locked in the off-season). The drive is about 46 km or 30 minutes from Saint John.
This is a different parking area than the main beach access parking. However, you can walk along the beach toward the trailhead from the main lot (when the beach is open).
Hiking to Barnaby Head
The New River Beach Nature Trail has a couple of different options. First, a shorter hike along the coast to Chitticks Beach and return through the forest. Or hike past Chitticks to Barnaby Head for the longer experience. However, the eastern forest route from Chitticks Beach to the trailhead was closed when I visited. So I returned along the same coastal route.
Barnaby Head Trail is about 6 km and took around 1.5 hours. Enter the forest near Carrying Cove and trek along gravel paths, boardwalks, and rugged coastal terrain. Watch your step on wet boardwalk (one hiker took a tumble…). Wear good hiking boots and watch for roots in the forest. Ocean views begin at Raspberry Cove and stay consistent throughout the day. If you love rugged coastal hikes, you’ll surely enjoy this short jaunt. Also, I only came across two other hikers in December.
New River Beach
If you visit in the summer, I’d highly recommend relaxing at New River Beach. It’s a great spot to picnic and soak up the sun. Don’t want to bring lunch? You can buy food at the Gull and Herring restaurant in the park. And on a hot day, you might even muster the courage to swim in the Bay of Fundy waters!
When the water’s too cold, New River Beach is the perfect place for beachcombing. In the tide pools, you’ll often find friendly sea creatures like crabs, starfish, and periwinkles. Remember, take nothing but photos… and sea glass (because it’s litter, even though it’s pretty).
If you want to stay awhile, New River Beach Provincial Park has 99 campsites and 4 rustic shelters to choose from. The campground is open from the end of May to the beginning of October. And yes, you can bring your pup along (just not on the beach).
Note: New River Beach is an unsupervised swimming area without a lifeguard. Swim at your own risk. Remember, the Bay of Fundy tides have a powerful undertow. Children should never be left alone.
Know Before You Go
Trail options: I suggest hiking down to Barnaby Head. But if you’re short on time, hikers can also just complete the Chitticks Beach Trail.
Signs: Barnaby Head Trail is fairly well-marked. Always important to have a map, compass, and GPS just in case. Stick to the designated trail.
Dogs: Dogs are allowed in provincial parks, but must remain on a leash. Please pick up after your pet and pack out any waste.
Water: Bring drinking water with you. I always carry my 2-litre water bladder.
Toilets: Toilets at the trailhead are locked during the off-season. And there are no toilets on the trail. Come prepared to dig a hole at least 70 big steps away from the trail and water sources. Make sure you bury your waste.
Garbage: Don’t leave anything behind on the trail. Pack it in, pack it out.
Hiking boots: I’d recommend mid hikers to keep your feet dry in the bog and marsh. I wore my Scarpa Kailash boots. You may also want gaiters to keep mud and water out of your boots.
Gear: Always bring a rain shell along with you. Even on sunny days, the coastal weather can change on a dime. The cool breeze from the ocean reduces temperature as well. Be sure to carry hiking essentials like food, water, navigation, first aid, and more.
Barnaby Head Trail Map
Have you hiked the Barnaby Head Trail in New River Beach Provincial Park? How did it go? Leave a comment below.
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