Kouchibouguac National Park

Length of stay: 2 days
Visited: September 2022

Kouchibouguac (pronounced koo-shee-boo-gwack) is a Mi’kmaq expression meaning “river of the long tides”. Kouchibouguac National Park is located along the Kouchibouguac River in the east coast of New Brunswick. It contains sand dunes, salt marshes, ancient bogs and dense forests. It offers plenty of recreational activities like camping, hiking, paddling and bird watching.

Day 1: Beaches, Boardwalks and Bugs

We flew from Toronto into Moncton and (surprisingly) had no delays or issues at the airport. We landed just before noon and were picked up at the airport by my mom and uncle who drove in from Ontario the day before. This marked the start (for us at least) of our ten day road trip through eastern Canada.

We stopped to pick up some groceries and supplies in town and then drove to Kouchibouguac National Park, which is located about an hour and a half north of Moncton. We checked into the South Kouchibouguac Campground and picked up the keys for our oTENTik, which would be our home for the next two nights.

An oTENTik is a mix between an A-frame cabin and yurt and has a raised wooden floor. We stayed in one before when we went to Point Pelee National Park in Ontario and the layout is typically the same for all oTENTiks managed by Parks Canada. They can sleep up to six people and they come equipped with beds and furniture. We just had to bring our sleeping bags, pillows and flashlights. This one didn’t have electricity, but it did have a BBQ outside.

After unpacking, we hit up some of the trails as we were eager to stretch our legs. Plus the weather was beautiful. We first went to Kellys Beach. Since we were visiting late in the day, the main parking lot was mostly empty. From the parking lot, there’s a long boardwalk (1.2km one-way, rated easy) that passes through a forest, a salt marsh, across a lagoon and onto an offshore barrier island. Along the way there were a few storyboards about the critters and creatures found in the salt marsh. The boardwalk ends at Kellys Beach where there was a pair of Parks Canada Red Chairs overlooking the ocean.

We then drove to the trailhead for the Salt Marsh Trail (0.9km loop, rated easy). The trail winds through the forest and follows a short boardwalk through a salt marsh overlooking the lagoon. The mosquitoes were awful so we pretty much raced through this trail. And here we thought we’d be safe from the bugs in mid-September. Apparently not. Maybe we should have packed that bug spray.

We made an attempt to hike the Mi’gmaq Cedar Trail, but as soon as we opened the car, the mosquitoes started to swarm. So that was a hard pass. Instead we drove into town to buy some insect repellent.

We then headed to our campsite to make dinner on the BBQ. Afterwards we attended the ranger program, “Cinema under the Stars”, which was located in the amphitheatre in the campground. The program featured five short films. We were also given a brown paper bag filled with popcorn. Before we began, one of the rangers indicated that there would be a special surprise for us at the end. It turns out that the guy that was featured in the fifth film was here. He brought his guitar and sang us two of his songs. They were in French and we didn’t understand much, but the tunes were pretty catchy. We then headed back to our campsite to escape from the mosquito infestation for the rest of the evening.

Day 2: Bogs

It was foggy and lightly misting outside when we woke up the next morning. After eating breakfast, we headed out to go for a hike. But first we went to the Visitor Centre to check out the exhibits, including one about the history of the park. It was created in 1969 to protect the sensitive sand dunes and bogs within the area. But in order for the park to be established, the government had to first expropriate the lands from about 215 families spread across seven communities within the proposed park area. While some families went willingly, many put up a fight.

We then went for a hike along the Claire Fontaine Trail (3.5km loop, rated easy), which is named after the village that was located here before the national park was created. The trail is marked by a series of red squares on the trees. The path winds through the forest and passes the Rankin Brook, Black River and the Kouchibouguac Lagoon, as well as a pair of Red Chairs overlooking the water.

By the time we wrapped up our hike the clouds were starting to clear and the sun was out. We then hiked the Osprey Trail (5.3km round trip, rated easy). The trailhead is located in the Côte-à-Fabien Campground, which was closed for the season and gated at the entrance. We parked along the shoulder of the road and walked a few hundred metres past the gate to get to the official trailhead. The trail winds through the forest and follows the shoreline of the Kouchibouguac Lagoon. There’s also a short detour for the Black River Point which leads to a scenic overlook of the ocean.

We drove back to the campground to eat a late lunch and to take a break. We headed out later in the afternoon to complete the remaining trails (that were open) in the park. We started with the Pines Trail (0.9km, rated easy). The trail meanders through an Acadian forest of white pines and contains a series of storyboards along the way that provide more information about the trees and their connection with the First Nations people. This forest once contained giant pine trees, but they were cut down in the early 1800s to build ships for the British Royal Navy and to build homes as more people populated New Brunswick.

We then hiked the Mi’gmaq Cedar Trail (0.9km loop, rated easy). Thankfully this time we came prepared with the bug spray and had much better luck with the mosquitoes. Parking for the trail is located at Callanders Beach. We first had to walk a few metres along the bike path to get to the trailhead. The trail follows a boardwalk through a cedar swap and contains a series of interpretive signs about the habitat and its connection with the Mi’gmaq, a First Nations people in the area.

We saved the best trail for last with the Bog Trail (1.9km round trip, rated easy). The first part of the trail meanders through the forest towards a six-metre high observation tower. We climbed the spiral staircase to the top of the tower, which provided a panoramic view of the bog.

The path then follows the boardwalk through the open bog and contains a series of storyboards that provide more information about the importance of bogs, how they are formed and about some of the plants found here. A bog like this took a very long time to form. We passed through the swamp forest, the lagg zone (the outer edge, which is the newest and thinnest part of the bog and is rich in minerals), the rand (the outward sloping margin of the bog which has a thick layer of peat) and the dome (the higher central part of the bog with a thick accumulation of peat). The trail ends at a viewing platform with a set of Red Chairs. We turned around and walked back the way that we came.

We drove back to our campground to make dinner. Afterwards we returned to Kellys Beach to attend the “Mindfulness under the Moon” ranger program. Since we arrived early, we went for a walk along the boardwalk. The mosquitoes were out in full force and seemed immune to the bug spray. We walked to the beach hoping for some reprieve from the bugs, but there was none. And so we turned around and raced back to the parking lot.

We decided to skip the ranger program and bunker down in our oTENTik and play cards instead. We also had a bit of packing to do as the next morning we planned to head to Fundy National Park.

L

68 thoughts on “Kouchibouguac National Park

  1. Diana says:

    What a fun start to what sounds like an awesome trip! I’ve been to New Brunswick but we only stopped at Fundy, we didn’t have time for this one. Now I wish we had. The spiral stairs around the observation tower look fun. Also, I didn’t realize bogs are somewhat dome-shaped and taller in the middle. For some reason I assumed they would be lower in the middle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      This trip has been in the works for awhile. We weren’t able to visit Atlantic Canada during the pandemic as they had strict quarantine rules. So it was nice to finally explore the east coast of Canada. Kouchibouguac NP isn’t as well known as Fundy, but I just couldn’t get enough of the boggy and marshy landscape, even if the bugs were awful. It is neat how the middle of bogs aren’t bogged down (ha, I couldn’t help myself). The reason some bogs are raised and are dome-shape is because the decaying vegetation accumulates in the center.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Time Affluent Photographer says:

    I love the cabin! I’ve not been to New Brunswick yet, the east coast is still on my to-list. Since international travel is getting so expensive, I may venture there next summer as it is within driving distance. Trails look amazing for “forest bathing”…

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Staying in an oTENTik was such a convenient and comfortable way to camp, especially since we were on a road trip and moving to a new spot every couple of nights. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the east coast. The scenery is spectacular and the people are so friendly.

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  3. kagould17 says:

    We’ve been to NB many times, but never visited here. Will have top add it to our list when we go back. Is there any coincidence that bog and bug are only 1 letter different? I had skeeters. You need some dragon flies Linda. Looks like there were a lot of Red Chair locations. Thanks for sharing. Allan

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Kouchibouguac NP is definitely worth visiting. There’s a nice variety of hiking trails to better explore all the sand dunes and salt marshes. Just make sure you pack heaps of bug spray!! It’s funny because this was the only place where we had issues with mosquitoes in mid-September (Thank goodness!). Thanks for reading. Linda

      Liked by 1 person

  4. wetanddustyroads says:

    Oh no, I will have to drink a few glasses of wine to pronounce this park’s name (even with you spelling it out for me) 😁. I love your accommodation, oTENTik (I remember this from a previous post) … the BBQ undercover is also a good idea! Boardwalks, the beach, your fun red chairs – all making for a great walk (except for those damn mozzies)! And a stunning picture of the sun setting at the end of your post.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We had a lot of fun trying to pronounce (which was more like mispronouncing) the name of this park!! Staying in an oTENTik was a very convenient and glamorous way to camp, especially during a road trip when we’re moving around every couple of days. Not all oTENTiks have a BBQ, so we tried to take advantage of it for every meal. The sheltered cover overtop was a nice addition. Thankfully we had fabulous weather though … we just had to deal with those pesky mosquitoes.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thattamma C.G Menon says:

    Such an amazing photos of the national park which is full of flora and fauna inspiring 🌷🙏👍🏻
    The tall trees , jungle, ocean and the staying place all so nice to view and most lovely park ‘s
    explanation also 😊thank you so much for sharing and grace wishes dear friend 🌷🙏♥️🌷

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The landscape in Kouchibouguac National Park was picture perfect and I love how different the scenery looks in the east coast compared to elsewhere in Canada. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. I was not expecting there to still be swarms of mosquitoes in mid-September though!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Darlene says:

    Those pesky mosquitos can spoil the fun at times. But it sounds like you had some great hikes. I haven’t visited New Brunswick yet. I will remember to bring heavy duty bug spray when I do go there.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I was even debating about whether to pack the bug spray, but decided to leave it behind because it was mid-September. The bugs are typically gone by then in Ontario …. but it turns out that they all congregate in Kouchibouguac National Park. The weird thing is that this was the only spot where we had issues with the bugs during our road trip out east.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Laura says:

    I have never been farther east than Montreal- so much of our country to still explore! I’m looking forward to these upcoming posts. Mosquitoes sure can put a damper on enjoying the outdoors- they always seem to be particularly drawn to me which is the worst!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Despite living in Canada for most of our lives, we haven’t really explored much of the east coast. I was pleasantly surprised at how picturesque the landscape looks and how friendly the people are. Despite the bug festival, our visit to Kouchibouguac was a great start to our road trip. And I’m so glad we were staying in one of those oTENTiks instead of a tent.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The east coast of Canada is very charming. I’m such a fan of all those coastal sand dunes and marshy wetlands. It sounds like we need to move Finland up on our travel bucket list!! Staying in an oTENTik was such a treat. It sure beats having to set up and take down a tent!

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  8. Ab says:

    I will have to check this out next time we go to NB which is every year! It looks wonderful. The half yurt and half cabin experience looks amazing and love all the red chair lookouts and signage. And that spiral staircase looks like fun. The mindfulness under the moonlight ranger walk also sounds lovely. I’m glad you’re now in the east coast part of your trip and look forward to reading more about it!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You should definitely add Kouchibouguac National Park to your list for the next time you’re in New Brunswick. There’s a nice variety of hiking trails that are all very family friendly and well signed. The Bog Trail with the spiral observation tower was my favourite. Plus it was very educational with all the storyboards along the way.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m happy to say that the bug situation got a lot better after the first two days. I regret not bringing the bug spray with us, but at least we were able to pick some up in town. Besides the mosquitoes, we had a wonderful time at Kouchibouguac. The scenery was marvelous.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. elvira797mx says:

    Wow! Wow! Wow! Wonderful place and photos! Love the red chairs with the table, amazing and very romantic, sitting togethet holding hands, You are a lovely couple, Linda.
    Thank’s for shar it. Have a great week!
    Elvira

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      • elvira797mx says:

        Aww! Always a pleasure, love red chairs. Agree with you they make a great spot. They are inspiring.
        That’s wonderful, sitting admiring views and drinking a cup of tea, coffee or chocolate…
        Wonderful weekend too!
        Elvira

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      • WanderingCanadians says:

        For sure. It’s always nice to stumble upon those red chairs and to appreciate where we are and admire the scenery. A cup of hot chocolate sounds amazing, especially now that winter is approaching. Take care. Linda

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’ve lived in Canada for my entire life and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get to the east coast. It was neat to see how different the landscape is, especially along the coastline. I’m such a fan of all the large sand dunes and boggy areas. I could have done without the mosquitoes though.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

    I love the Parks Canada red chairs. So great to find them. I know you had bogs nearby but still, I can’t believe you had much a mossie issue that late in the summer. Even in NWT they are gone by mid-August, and this is their original home and native land. Seems like it was a great day, though. Such a nice photo of the two of you!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s always fun to go on a scavenger hunt to try to find all the Red Chairs. The ones in the east coast seemed to be very popular, which made it hard to take pictures sometimes. I was surprised about the mosquito situation in mid-September too as in Ontario they are long gone by then. Thankfully this was the only park that we visited that was infested with mosquitoes.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. salsaworldtraveler says:

    The TENTtiks are my kind of camping.😄 They look cozy, comfortable and dry. The BBQ set up makes this accommodation even more appealing. The ranger programs sounded really interesting. Hiking on the boardwalks through the bog and marshland would be my favorites I think.,

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The oTENTiks are a very comfortable way to camp, especially then it’s raining outside or the bugs are brutal. It was also very convenient to not have to set up our tents every couple of days during our road trip. Having access to a BBQ was also a huge bonus. The Bog Trail was definitely my favourite. I’m such a fan of boardwalks and the boggy landscape. Plus the observation tower was a great way to get a panoramic view of the area.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      There’s a nice variety of trails in Kouchibouguac, all of which are relatively flat. The Bog Trail was my favourite. There’s a long boardwalk section and an observation tower, what more could you want!? The bug situation was not ideal (and quite unexpected), but thankfully a bit of a insect repellent helped!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Bama says:

    The mosquitoes sound really ferocious! Bringing an electric racket (I don’t know if this is a common thing in Canada or not) would probably be a good idea. At least the views were quite nice and your tent looks well-sealed so no mosquitoes could enter.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I was quite surprised that the mosquitoes were still so aggressive in mid-September as they are usually gone by then in Ontario. It was well worth the extra drive into town to pick up some bug spray! I’ve seen those bug zapper rackets here too, but haven’t tried them out yet.They look like they would be a lot of fun to use! The bug spray worked wonders during the day, but in the evening it was no match for the swarms of bugs. Thankfully we had the oTENTik to keep us safe!

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s always fun to try to discover all the Red Chair locations whenever we visit a new national park in Canada! We spent a lot of time this year along the west coast so it was nice to shake things up and explore the east coast. I love how different the scenery and landscape are.

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  13. leightontravels says:

    I am glad that mosquitoes did not spoil your BBQ experience and your oTENTik looks pretty safe from bugs. I would’ve loved the Bog Trail the most, I think, though every walk you took is beautiful. I was sad to read about the cut down giant pine trees. The programmes organised by the rangers sound interesting.

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      No kidding! It was well worth the drive into town to pick up some bug spray. Thankfully we had the oTENTik to retreat from the mosquitoes in the evening when they were at their worst. The ranger programs are always worth checking out. They are usually educational and entertaining.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Bernie says:

    Interesting about relocating families who lived there. Lots of National Parks have towns in them. I learnt a lot about bogs from your post. Not one once surprised about mosquitoes in Sept. If it’s nice they are swarming. Do they lay low in Ontario in Sept?

    Like

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The expropriation of land to create Kouchibouguac National Park was (and still is) very controversial. You’re right, there are a lot of national parks, especially out west, that have towns located in or nearby, so I wonder why they didn’t do the same thing here. The mosquitoes are typically long gone in Ontario by mid-September. Thankfully we were able to pick up some bug spray in town, which was a total game changer. The bug situation also improved considerably as we made our way towards Nova Scotia.

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  15. Linda K says:

    Must definitely get to New Brunswick the next time we plan a trip back east. There is just so much to see in Atlantic Canada. Love the dunes that you visited…very scenic! I’ve never stayed in one of the oTenttik sites, but have been tempted in the past. They look cozy and of course it’s nice to be up off the ground 🙂

    Like

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. I was pleasantly surprised at how scenic New Brunswick is, especially along the coastline. It was so nice to ditch our tents and to stay in an oTENTik instead. It was very comfortable and convenient while still connecting with nature. Some of them even had heating, which was nice to take the chill out in the evening.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. michellecj333 says:

    What a lovely photo of the two of you! And how nice that you had an impromptu concert! Gorgeous photos, and beautiful trails, and such a fun touch with the red Adirondack chairs. Sorry about the bugs though – that’s no fun. Glad you were prepared the next time!

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    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks!! I’m always such a fan of attending those ranger programs in the evening, especially since we can just walk there from our campsite. They are typically very educational and entertaining. This was the first one we attended where we were given popcorn, which was a nice treat. The bugs on the other hand not so much! Thankfully the bug situation improved considerably as we continued heading east on our road trip through Atlantic Canada.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was nice to splurge on an oTENTik. We actually stayed in these for our entire time out east since we were just moving from one national park to the next. It sure beat having to lug our tent around with us and having to set it up and take it down every couple of days. Kouchibouguac is a bit off the beaten path, but the scenery is stunning. We couldn’t have asked for better weather (only less mosquitoes).

      Liked by 1 person

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