The 17,000-hectare Mount Carleton Provincial Park, in the remote interior of New Brunswick, is far from the normal tourist route, but well worth searching out if you are looking for a true wilderness experience. The park centers around a string of upsoiled lakes surrounded by dense forest and the province’s highest peaks. Wildlife such as deer, moose, lynx, porcupines and over 100 species of birds are present. Access to the park costs $8 per vehicle per day.
The mountain’s peak rises above the tree line, and the view is marvelous.Get a feeling for the park by driving around the road that encircles Big and Little Nictau Lakes, although be warned that the gravel road is narrow and very winding in places. Along the way are numerous lake access points, including short stretches of beach.
Hiking trails leading from the road are as short as a 300-meter path to photogenic Williams Falls, but keen hikers will want to reach the summit of the Maritimes’ highest point of land, Mount Carleton (820 meters). If you go, wear sturdy shoes and bring a jacket to combat the winds. The easiest, marked ascent goes up a 4.4-kilometer trail through a spruce, fir, and yellow birch forest. The mountain’s peak rises above the tree line, and the view is marvelous, overlooking the adjacent mountains and lakes from a summit strewn with mountain cranberries and wild blueberries.
Where to Stay in Mount Carleton Provincial Park
Within the park are three auto-accessible campgrounds (506/235-0793; mid-May-mid-Sept.; $27), of which only one, Armstrong Campground, is suitable for RVs and campers. It has 88 campsites, flush toilets, showers, kitchen shelters, a playground, a small beach, and a concession (July and Aug. only). Another option are older cabins on the south side of Nictau Lake and the southeast side of Bathurst Lake. Ranging in price from $60 to $90 s or d, they require guests to supply their own sleeping bags and cooking utensils, but are otherwise a great way to experience the park. Along with campsites, the cabins can be booked online.
Getting to Mount Carleton Provincial Park
Mount Carleton is about 150 kilometers (two hours) east of Edmundston. To get there, take Highway 2 east, Highway 17 northeast, and Highway 180 west, then follow signs for the park. To get there from Fredericton, allow at least 3.5 hours for the 245-kilometer journey northwest.
if you’re looping around the province by road, you’ll pass within 50 kilometers of the park; the entrance to the park is 50 kilometers east from 180 Saint-Quentin along Highway, which is roughly halfway between Grand Falls and Campbellton. For travelers northbound along Highway 2, take Exit 115 at Perth-Andover (halfway between Hartland and Grand Falls) and follow Highway 109 and the Mamazekel River through Plaster Rock to reach the park via a more direct route than continuing north to Grand Falls.
Excerpted from the Seventh Edition of Moon Atlantic Canada.