Fundy National Park, Part 2: Matthews Head and the Coastal Trails
On the morning of my hike along the coastal trails there were clouds lingering at daybreak which resulted in a spectacular sunrise and an undeniably fantastic start to the day. I was eager to try and catch views of the shore at near high and low tides so I delayed my start until after ten in order to see the shore at near extremes. My plan was the hike the Matthews Head Trail but then connect with the Coastal Trail instead of taking the return loop back. The hike started across a breath-taking meadow of wildflowers before starting the descent towards the water. After about a half hour of making my way through the characteristically lush conifer forest of the park, I began to catch glimpses of bluffs and coves below me and soon was able to hear the high tide crashing on the jagged rock below.
The trail continued along the shore for over a mile, providing spectacular views of the cliffs and the bay. Where the trail looped back to the trail head however I continued on along the Coastal Trail. Ironically, the Coastal Trail did not follow the coast closely enough for many bay views but the forest was quite nice and the route over the headlands provided some more moderate challenges due to steep elevation gains. Not too far on my way along the Coastal Trail I took a spur down to Herring Cove Beach which at the time was completely deserted and, according to the sign, nowadays devoid of herring. I hiked along the Coastal Trail for a few more miles, enjoying the solace of the forest, before picking a random place to turn around. Soon after I had the pleasure of eating lunch on a ledge that gave me a fantastic view of the trees.
I decided to take the short spur back down to Herring Cove Beach once I got there and availed myself of a warm bit of sand where I took a refreshing nap. Upon awakening, the tide had visibly receded and the remainder of the hike did indeed provide a contrasting view from the morning’s high tide. All in all, I think I probably hiked about seven or eight miles total but with the Matthews Head Trail connecting to two sections of the Coastal Trail, multiple routes and distances are possible. I would recommend the Matthews Head Loop if you go, but would also suggest you continue of the Coastal Trail until Herring Cove in order to see the beach as well as to get more of a taste of the stunning forest along the section of the Bay of Fundy.
I ended my day with a late afternoon swim in Bennett Lake, located about ten miles inland.