New Brunswick, Canada, is a nature lover’s paradise. The geological features are fascinating in this part of the country; this includes over 1,000 waterfalls, formed due to continental collisions, volcanic eruptions, and melting glaciers. A visit to this Maritime province is filled with awe-inspiring sights and adventures, including The Bay of Fundy, home to the world’s highest tides.
The coastal region along the bay is spectacular. All rivers from the Saint John River westward flow over a waterfall on their way to the Bay of Fundy. If you like chasing waterfalls, there are many to experience in the Fundy Coastal region. The following seven, starting along the Fundy Trail Parkway, are a few breathtaking examples of the stunning waterfalls found along the Fundy Coast.
Pro Tip: While visiting that part of the province, be sure to enjoy its charming villages and the iconic Hopewell Rocks.
I was a guest of Tourism New Brunswick for this experience, but all opinions are my own.
Fundy Trail Parkway
The Fundy Trail Parkway is the perfect place to start your waterfall chase. It’s a 6,323-acre park and 19-mile world-class drive that hugs the southern coast of New Brunswick. The trail took 25 years and around 100 million dollars to build. Completed in 2020 during the pandemic, the parkway features five beaches, four waterfalls, 22 miles of hiking and biking trails, plus picnic areas that offer spectacular views dotted around the drive.
The Fundy Trail is also part of two UNESCO-designated sites: The Fundy Biosphere Reserve and Stonehammer Global Geopark. The scenery is so gorgeous here that you must pull off at any one of over 20 lookouts or 15 observation decks to take in the breathtaking sights of the Bay of Fundy.
1. Walton Glen Gorge Falls
Starting at the eastern entrance to the park, the Walton Glen Gorge is known as “The Grand Canyon of New Brunswick.” It’s a protected natural area and is 1,000 feet across, 525 feet deep, and 550 million years old. It was formed by a series of volcanic eruptions. In the spring and autumn, a high waterfall tumbles down the sheer rock walls, and it’s thought to be the second-highest waterfall in New Brunswick. The viewing deck is a 1.5-mile hike through the woods (the trail is well-marked off the Fundy Trail Parkway) and is considered easy to moderate. Once there, you can view the falls from the viewing platform, and on a clear day, you can see all the way out to the Bay of Fundy.
2. McLeod Brook Falls
The McLeod Brook Falls are named after Bentley McLeod. He discovered the falls and worked in the logging camps along the Fundy Coast in the early-to-mid 20th century. The trail is near the Walton Glen Reception Center and is considered a part of the gorge. The trek begins as you head down a wide gravel path that is an old ATV trail. As you near the falls, you will descend a well-maintained cable staircase that brings you down to McLeod Brook. When you arrive, you are at the bottom of the falls.
The tumbling water is soothing, as the rushing water fills the quiet spaces. Verdant ferns and lush moss make this a secluded paradise, yet you aren’t that far into the woods.
The trail is moderately difficult, and those with mobility issues might have difficulty reaching the brook at the bottom. You will climb down the stairs, which are slightly steep and rustic.
After enjoying McLeod Falls, you can climb back up. Or when you reach the brook, you can opt to trek further, traversing the shallow water with the help of cables attached to trees to assist your crossing, and then hike back up the hill. This is a challenge, but if you are up for it, it’s a lot of fun.
3. Long Beach Brook Falls
The Long Beach Brook Falls is a moderate to challenging hike with a great payoff. When you travel along the Fundy Parkway, park at parking lot P-13. Then walk out to the Parkway and travel west toward the interpretive center. You will see the footpath for Long Beach Brook Falls. The trail has blue blazes to lead the way.
As you head through the forest, you will observe the remnants of the area’s mining history, which eventually leads you to Long Beach Brook Falls. You’ll walk through moss- and fern-filled forests as you hear the gushing sound of the rushing water pounding into a large pool — perfect for a dip on a hot day. The hike can be one-way in-and-back for about a mile, or it can be made a loop (2.2 kilometers, or a little less than a mile and a half.) This is a great place to sit and enjoy the relaxed seclusion in the forest. The hike is difficult for those with mobility issues.
4. Fuller Falls
Fuller Falls is a favorite stop on the Fundy Trail Parkway. You can reach the falls (when they’re open) by climbing up from the Melvin Beach Trail. The cable ladder to the lower observation deck is under construction and is currently closed; however, the multi-use trail is open for hikers, and the upper deck is still available for viewing. The platform overlooks the 50-foot-tall waterfall and the valley below. The beauty here is astounding, and a great place to shoot some photos. Once it tumbles down to the ravine, the water travels through various streams down to Melvin Beach.
If you drive toward the charming village of Alma, you will arrive at the gateway to Fundy National Park. Stop in town and enjoy a tasty lobster meal or sip a delicious microbrew at Holy Whale Brewery on your way to the park, established in 1948. Once inside, you’ll have the option to discover 25 waterfalls, but here are two you shouldn’t miss.
Fundy National Park
Fundy National Park is a mid-sized national park covering 80 square miles. There’s a lot to do inside the park, including hiking, camping, and swimming in the Bay of Fundy.
5. Dickson Falls
If you want to enjoy a fantastic hike to a waterfall, head to Dickson Falls. When you enter the park from the village of Alma, the trailhead is off Pointe Wolfe Road. It is rated easy to moderate; there are boardwalks for most of the mile-long trail, but there are plenty of stairs, so consider this if you have mobility issues.
If you take your time to enjoy this hike, taking a walk slowly to admire the lush ferns and trees, it should take about 30 minutes to complete. The scenery is impressive, and even though Dickson Falls is only 25 feet high, it’s the most photographed waterfall in Fundy National Park and the climax of one of the most popular hiking trails, especially in autumn.
6. Third Vault Falls
The Third Vault Falls Trail is long — just around 4 miles. It’s an out-and-back trek considered moderately challenging and could take as much as 2 hours to complete. The best time to hike is from April to October, and it’s lovely as the path meanders through flat woodlands until finally sloping downward toward the Third Vault Brook. This trail is listed as a Fundy Biosphere Reserve Amazing Place. Its rugged beauty (the falls descend 52 feet down a rocky ravine) is remote.
This is not recommended for anyone with mobility issues, as the trail is sometimes rocky and steep. If you visit the Third Vault Falls, ensure you have water and proper hiking shoes and layers while attempting to visit the tallest waterfall in Fundy National Park.
Saint John, New Brunswick
Saint John, Canada’s oldest incorporated city, sits on the Bay of Fundy. It has Canada’s oldest market and oldest museum, and it’s near many of New Brunswick’s covered bridges.
7. The Reversing Falls
The natural phenomenon known as the “Reversing Falls” is one of two in the world. It is aided by the bathtub shape of the Bay of Fundy, which makes the waves slosh back and forth and results in the highest tide in the world.
At the Reversing Falls, a tug-of-war occurs daily at different points in the tide cycle — low, slack, and high tide. At low tide, the river flows into the bay; as the bay’s tide rises, it slows the river’s current (most noticeably during the 20-minute slack tide period); and as the tide continues to climb, the river’s flow reverses. Basically, when the current and the tide collide, the power of the Bay of Fundy’s tides pushes the Saint John River backward, causing the Reversing Falls.
Slack tide is the only time sailboats and pleasure crafts can sail between the Bay of Fundy and the Saint John River.
You can observe the Reversing Falls from the Reversing Falls Rapids Lookout Point near the bridge in Fallsview Park. From the parking lot, take the trail on the right to find the lookout; then return to the parking lot and take the scenic Fallsview Park Trail along the cliff’s edge. Hiking NB gives a great overview.