Have you ever travelled across the bottom of the Atlantic ocean? You gotta check out Ministers Island! At low tide, you can drive, bike, or walk across the seabed, just minutes from historic St. Andrews by-the-Sea. The loop around the island, called Ministers Island Perimeter Trail, is a great way for families or solo visitors to discover the isle on foot.
We’ve been to St. Andrews several times but hadn’t ventured over to Ministers Island—until this year! After the gate opened in May, we made our way across to explore the isle. If you’re ever in the area, I’d recommend adding this historic island to your itinerary.
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About Ministers Island Loop
Location: Ministers Island, New Brunswick
Distance: 7.5 km loop
Elevation: 80 m elevation gain
Time: 2 hours
Dog-friendly: Yes, but dogs must remain on a leash.
Features: Ministers Island is a unique place for a day hike. The loop around the island features several lookouts with Adirondack chairs, historic points of interest (like the bath house), fields full of blooming lupins, and much more.
Finding the Trailhead
Ministers Island is only minutes away from the town of St. Andrews. If you’re coming from Saint John, take Route 1 west for about 80 km until reaching Exit 39. Turn left onto Highway 127 and follow for about 17 km, then turn left onto Bar Road. Follow Bar Rd until the low tide crossing over to Ministers Island. Driving from Saint John takes about an hour. On the island, you can park near the main gate to access the nearby trailhead.
Hiking Ministers Island Perimeter Trail
The loop around Ministers Island starts on the old carriage trail covered by old trees. Before too long, you’ll pass a lookout where you can see St. Andrews on the other side. Keep going until you reach the greenhouse remnants next to the Gardener’s Cottage. In the summer, you’ll walk through a beautiful field of pink and purple lupins. From here, you can look ahead to see the top of the historic bath house.
Built in 1912, the top floor of the bath house was Sir William’s art studio. The bottom floor, however, had change rooms for those wishing to swim in the beach’s saltwater pool. You can go inside, climb down the stairs, and access the red beach below. The bath house was constructed with red stone from the beach rock.
After the bath house, continue up the eastern side of the island, briefly accessing the rocky beach and passing a couple of lookouts. Once you reach the northernmost tip of the island, you’ll find the collapsed Moose Manor, built by the gardener as a hunting cabin. Not long after, you’ll reach the trailhead and complete the loop.
Ministers Island Perimeter Trail is about 7.5 km and takes about 2 hours. You may want to add more time to explore the historic buildings and spend time on the beach. You’ll find some trail markers to guide the way—but it’s almost impossible to get lost on this one!
Ministers Island Tides
At high tide, the bar that connects the island to the mainland is at least 14 feet underwater. Be sure to check the Ministers Island tide schedule before heading across to the island. At low tide, the island is accessible for about 5 hours. Remember, tide schedules change daily.
Things To Do on Ministers Island
The 500-acre Ministers Island is a national and provincial heritage place. In the late 1800s, Sir William Van Horne, famed for his role in managing the Canadian Pacific Railway, bought land on Ministers Island and built his summer home. Today, the island welcomes visitors from all over and is managed by a community-based nonprofit.
There are several walking and hiking trails on Ministers Island, including the 7.5-km Perimeter Trail. If you’re looking for something shorter, enjoy parts of the trail without committing to the full loop. The island is a paradise for birds and other wildlife—bring your binoculars!
When you’re finished hiking outdoors, venture inside the Van Horne heritage buildings. There are 10 buildings on the property, including the 50-room summer “cottage” (mansion) called Covenhoven. We didn’t go inside any buildings this time, but I hear the tours are worthwhile.
Note: The island’s historical significance long predates Sir William, as the Passamaquoddy First Nations inhabited the lands called Qonasqamkuk (also known as St. Andrews) since time immemorial—including Ministers Island.
Know Before You Go
Admission fee: During peak season, access to heritage trails and the Van Horne estate costs $17 plus tax per adult. Pay at the entrance booth or online here. In the off-season, trail access is by donation.
Parking: You can park by the entrance gate to access the trailhead. You could also park in one of the parking lots and start the Perimeter Trail.
Toilet: You’ll find a portable toilet at the trailhead.
Pets: Dogs are permitted on Ministers Island, but they must remain on a leash. Don’t forget the water bowl.
Hiking essentials: This isn’t a long or technical trail, but bring a daypack to do the full loop. On a hot day, a water bottle, sunglasses, and sunscreen are all useful. You probably won’t want trekking poles, but bring a rain jacket (I use this one) in case this weather turns. It’s the Maritimes, after all!
Ministers Island Trail Map
Have you hiked Perimeter Trail on Ministers Island? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments below.
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