Are you looking for a longer trail near Saint John? Add the Turtle Mountain hike to your list! You’ll go through the woods along an ATV trail, with some views of nearby lakes. The real reward, though, is the expansive view of Loch Alva Wilderness Area from the summit of Turtle Mountain. This scenery is hard to beat… and well worth the effort!

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Turtle Mountain Trail near Saint John, New Brunswick.

I finished May with the increasingly popular Turtle Mountain hike, just outside the town of Grand Bay-Westfield, New Brunswick. To top it off, I lucked out with unseasonably warm and dry weather—perfect for a longer hiking day.

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About Turtle Mountain Trail

Turtle Mountain hike summit views
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Turtle Lake from the Turtle Mountain summit.

Location: Loch Alva Wilderness Area, New Brunswick
Distance: 24 km out and back
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 540 m elevation gain
Time: 5 – 7 hours
Dog-friendly: Yes, but keep dogs on a leash.
Features: Turtle Mountain Trail starts on an ATV trail through the forest, with occasional views of nearby lakes. You may spot wildlife and wildflowers depending on the time of year. The main attraction is the Turtle Mountain summit with wide granite slabs. Take time to soak in the views of the Loch Alva wilderness, including the most prominent Turtle Lake and surrounding smaller lakes.

Finding the Trailhead

Turtle Mountain hike parking
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Park on the side of Highway 7.

You shouldn’t have much trouble finding the Turtle Mountain trailhead. From Saint John, head west on Route 1 until you’re outside of the city. Before too long, take Exit 14 toward Grand Bay-Westfield and head north on Highway 7 for about 20 kilometres. Park on the side of the highway before or after the guardrails. The trailhead will be on your right.

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Walk down beside the tunnel to find Turtle Mountain trailhead.

Turtle Mountain Hike—Unmissable New Brunswick Trail

Turtle Mountain hike gate
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Gate at the Turtle Mountain trailhead.

The Turtle Mountain hike begins on an ATV trail next to Highway 7. Most of the trek follows this multi-use route without any noteworthy lookouts. Though after about 3 km, you’ll be treated to views of Little John Lake to your left and Robin Hood Lake to the right as you cross over the ATV bridge. Then you’ll go back in the forest, entering Loch Alva Wilderness Area, as you make your way toward Turtle Mountain.

To be honest, I was quite impressed with the steep climb up Turtle Mountain. While nothing like hiking in the Rockies, it’s probably the closest you’ll find within an hour of Saint John. The hike gains 100 metres in about 2 km, with a fairly steep climb to the granite dome summit. Once at the top, Turtle Mountain overlooks the Loch Alva Wilderness Area, including Turtle Lake with two centred islands. You’ll find one of the best views in New Brunswick—well worth the 12 km hike in!

While not overly challenging, Turtle Mountain Trail is a long day hike. Be prepared for 24 km out and back in about 5 to 6 hours with little access to water. Slower hikers will need more time to complete the trail.

Read more: Split Rock Trail: One of the Best New Brunswick Hikes

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Several private camps along the trail.
Turtle Mountain hike wildflowers
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Wild rhododendron in bloom.
Turtle Mountain hike bridge
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Crossing the ATV bridge after about 3 km.
Turtle Mountain hike lake
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Little John Lake.
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Almost stepped on this American Toad!
Turtle Mountain hike marker
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“T” painted on trees along the way.
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You’ll probably see a grouse or two.
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A steep climb up to the granite dome.
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One of the best viewpoints in southern New Brunswick!
Turtle Mountain hike views of Loch Alva
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Two islands on Turtle Lake.

Know Before You Go

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Trail signs and markers help guide the way.

Parking: You won’t find an official parking area, so park on the shoulder of Highway 7.

Toilets: No toilets at the trailhead or along the trail. To go number two, walk 70 steps away from the trail and any water source, then dig a hole six inches deep. Bury your waste and pack out toilet paper.

Water: Little John Lake and Robin Hood Lake are water sources on the trail. After that, you won’t find another water source. Carry extra water in your pack. I brought my 2-litre Osprey reservoir and a full Nalgene water bottle.

Protected Wilderness: Loch Alva Wilderness is a Class II protected area. Low-impact recreational activities like hiking, hunting, and fishing are permitted. To limit human impact on the environment, learn about Leave No Trace principles before you go.

Camps: Be respectful of private property and camps along the trail.

Signage: You’ll find some official signage for Turtle Mountain. Trail markers includes white duct tape, orange ribbon, and “T” signs on trees. There are some side trails, so become familiar with the route map.

Summit: A couple of hikers stopped at the first granite viewpoint, thinking they had made it to the top. Don’t miss the true summit. Continue around the bend to hike up another granite rock dome. Pick a clear day for unbeatable views of Turtle Lake and Loch Alva Wilderness Area.

Turtle Mountain hike sign
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Remember, you’re hiking through protected wilderness.

What To Bring on a Hike

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Bring sun protection for hot summer days.

Always bring the 10 hiking essentials, including food and water, navigation tools, sun protection, and more. I carry everything in my favourite daypack—Osprey Hikelite 18.

Hiking on a hot day, I ended up dehydrated with a headache, nausea, and dizziness on the return trip. I brought enough water, but needed more electrolytes. Bring electrolytes in your first aid kit or water enhancer like Mio Sport.

For sun protection, don’t forget sunscreen, sunglasses, and UPF clothing.

To keep sweat out of my eyes, I like to use this Buff headband or a regular Buff.

In the spring, you’ll likely find pools of water and deep mud on the trail. Wear waterproof hiking boots.

While not absolutely necessary, you may want hiking poles (I use these) for extra support and stability.

If you hike with your pooch, carry extra water and a packable dog bowl. Don’t forget to pack out pet waste.

Read more: 10 Day Hiking Essentials: What to Bring on a Hike

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Don’t forget hiking essentials for your pup, too.

Turtle Mountain Trail Map

More New Brunswick Hikes

Looking for more southern New Brunswick hikes? Here are some options on the coast:

Have you hiked Turtle Mountain in New Brunswick? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments below.

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2 thoughts

  1. Hi, thanks for this write-up! Can’t wait to do this hike in summer. I haven’t been able to find info on this yet- are there paddle routes and backcountry campsites in the Loch Alva wilderness area?

    1. Hi Annette, glad you found it useful! I haven’t personally paddled in Loch Alva, but I know others have. I suggest reaching out to Canoe Kayak NB. You could also connect with Hiking NB (they just started a new website called Paddling NB: I’m sure they’ll have some ideas for you!

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