Prince Edward Island National Park, Part 1: Greenwich

Prince Edward Island National Park is comprised of three geographically-distinct sections, of which I visited two; the third is built around the historical house of author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, and while I remember reading the books at least twice as a young child, I didn’t feel compelled to join the busloads of tourists to view the house. Because I was circling the island counterclockwise, I began at the easternmost section, Greenwich where I walked the beach and explored the dunes on the afternoon of my arrival. Just like every other place on the island it was incredibly quiet so I decided to just spend the night parked in one of the parking lots by the Greenwich Beach and the trail heads.

Rolling dunes of Greenwich Beach, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Rolling dunes of Greenwich Beach, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Rolling dunes of Greenwich Beach, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Rolling dunes of Greenwich Beach, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Rolling dunes of Greenwich Beach, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Rolling dunes of Greenwich Beach, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

I think these are beach peas, Greenwich Beach, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

I think these are beach peas, Greenwich Beach, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Greenwich Beach, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Greenwich Beach, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

The next morning I set off on my first hike on the Greenwich Dunes Trail, a three mile out and back that features an extended stretch of floating boardwalk with spectacular views of the dunes and the pond. The trail begins however in forest and crosses multiple spots carpeted with fragile white reindeer moss, which happens to be quite beautiful. The trail transitions to floating boardwalk upon reaching Bowley Pond, allowing hikers to get up close with dune grass and reeds emerging from the water while they make their way to the shore. At its terminus, the trail looks out to a fantastic view of the rare parabolic dunes, which are half-bowl shaped mounds that form due to persistent, uni-directional winds. As the dunes migrate inland – at a rate of up to 12 feet per year – they leave behind concentric rings of rooted dune grass called gegenwalle which shelter rare and endangered species.

White reindeer moss, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

White reindeer moss, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Greenwich Dunes Trail emerging from forest to Bowley Pond, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Greenwich Dunes Trail emerging from forest to Bowley Pond, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Floating boardwalk, Bowley Pond, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Floating boardwalk, Bowley Pond, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Bowley Pond and dunes, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Bowley Pond and dunes, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Bowley Pond and dunes from floating boardwalk, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Bowley Pond and dunes from floating boardwalk, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Bowley Pond, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Bowley Pond, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Dunes, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Dunes, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Looking back on floating boardwalk and Bowley Pond from atop dunes, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Looking back on floating boardwalk and Bowley Pond from atop dunes, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Looking down the beach and out to the Gulf of St. Lawrence from atop dunes, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Looking down the beach and out to the Gulf of St. Lawrence from atop dunes, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Parabolic dunes, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Parabolic dunes, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Dunes, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Dunes, Greenwich Dunes Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

On the other side of the peninsula from the dunes is the Tlaqatik Trail, which in addition to providing views onto the lovely St. Peters Bay, highlights archaeological and historical sites of native and European settlers in the area dating back 10,000 years. While there are no visible remains to be seen, the interpretive panels provide a wealth of information about past inhabitants as well as information about the extensive fishing and trapping industries that continue to support the economy of coastal Prince Edward Island. The return loop of the trail travels through white spruce forest that is slowly being taken over by the migrating parabolic dunes and allows unique views of the back side of the dune system.

Meadow, Tlaqatik Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Meadow, Tlaqatik Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

St. Peters Bay from Tlaqatik Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

St. Peters Bay from Tlaqatik Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Tlaqatik Trail turning inland towards forest, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Tlaqatik Trail turning inland towards forest, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Exploring the shore of St. Peters Bay from a path off Tlaqatik Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Exploring the shore of St. Peters Bay from a path off Tlaqatik Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Back side of parabolic dunes, Tlaqatik Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Back side of parabolic dunes, Tlaqatik Trail, Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada

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