The drive into Kouchibouguac National Park is underwhelming. Trees line either side of the road and block any views to the coast. You might be wondering why you’ve even bothered to come. But don’t despair, because once you’re on a bike the charm, of the 238 square km park becomes apparent. The park is, in fact, considered to be one of the best cycling destinations in all of Atlantic Canada.
The word Kouchibouguac means River of Long Tides in Mi’kmaq. You will discover just what this looks like as you cycle along Kouchibouguac River. Explore salt marshes and bogs as you loop through the park on 60 km (37 mi) of trails. Stop to admire fields of wildflowers and listen for birdsong in the woods.
The parking lot near Ryans – where you can rent a bike without any gears – seems like a good place to begin. From there you have a choice. Either follow the coast towards the Salt Marsh or head in the other direction along the south shore of the Kouchibouguac River. There’s no right or wrong but if you follow the coast then you really should plan a stop just 2 km after starting. There is a beautiful 1.2 km boardwalk that takes you to Kellys Beach but you must leave your bike behind. This is a great place to swim and relax – and as such, might make a better stop towards the end of the day. Or you might not get any further than this.
From the boardwalk, the bike path heads towards the Salt Marsh and Callanders Beach before heading away from the water into the woods. Several short nature trails offer further diversions. Continue through the woods until you reach one of the many well-signed intersections. There are short cuts back to Ryans through the interior of the park but if you have the time and the energy, it’s worth continuing across the Kouchibouguac River. Once you’re on the other side of the river, you have the option to bike alongside it until it empties at the lagoon; or plan on a longer ride and bike a further 16.9 km one way to Pointe-Sapin through the woods and across the Black River. To return to Ryans, you’ll have to retrace your route to the river and continue along the south shore of the river to complete the loop.
Biking through Kouchibouguac is an enjoyable way to spend a day – though you may not get very far with all the possible diversions. Don’t forget to pick up a free map at the park entrance to help you plan your day.
Useful information for cycling in Kouchibouguac National Park:
- Easy and family friendly
- The entrance to the park is 113 kmnorth of Moncton and 57 km southeast of Miramichi.
- You need a half day to a full day depending on how far you want to go and how much beach time you want.
- Bike from May through to October.
- Bring your own bike or rent a no speed bike from Ryan’s Rental Center in the park. Food choices in the park are minimal so buy picnic supplies ahead of time.
- Park entrance fees are $7.80/adult and $3.90 /youth. Onsite bike rentals are $8/hr, $25/4 hrs and $50/day.
- Bike locks aren’t provided. Bring your own if you want you want worry free time on the beach.
- There are 10 nature trails ranging from 0.9 km 0.6 mi) to 11.3 km (7.0 mi) to hike. Canoeing is another excellent option for exploring the park. Rent canoes at Ryans, book one of two backcountry spots and then head out to explore.