New Brunswick·Outdoors

Kouchibouguac called a 'best-kept secret' of Parks Canada

​It boasts beaches, boardwalks and biking trails, but Kouchibouguac National Park is still one of the "best-kept secrets" of Parks Canada.

Outdoor adventurer Calixte LeBlanc finds lots to do in 'under-appreciated' national park

Calixte LeBlanc spends a day at Kouchibouguac National Park. 1:48

​It boasts beaches, boardwalks and biking trails, but Kouchibouguac National Park is still one of the "best-kept secrets" of Parks Canada.

That's according to outdoor adventurer Calixte LeBlanc of Moncton, who is exploring New Brunswick's natural attractions and hiking trails for CBC Information Morning in New Brunswick.

LeBlanc took in the Kouchibouguac's attractions on a rainy day, but remarked how uncrowded the park was, especially compared to other New Brunswick attractions like the Hopewell Rocks and Fundy National Park.

"I guess it's a little bit under-appreciated, but there so many things to do there," said LeBlanc.

Hiking, biking, swimming and interpretive programs are all some of the park's highlights. LeBlanc recommends a stroll over the boardwalk to Kellys Beach as a good introduction to what Kouchibouguac has to offer.

"You start walking across the boardwalk and you can feel the intense smell of salt in the air, which is really fun."  

Camping in the park is also a highlight, with back-country and canoe-in sites, as well as camp grounds with serviced and unserviced sites and "glamping, glamourous camping" in a cross between a tent and a cabin.

"There's something for everyone as far as camping goes."

LeBlanc notes the flat terrain in the national park might put off some more adventurous hikers, but the beauty of the place makes up for the lack of elevation. And the place is great for kids with "well-groomed, well-maintained trails. You're not going to encounter any unforeseen challenges."

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      Things to do in the park

      • Camping: 311 sites are available at South Kouchibouguac Campground, including serviced and unserviced sites. For something different, rent an oTENTik, a rustic cabin with beds and furniture. For first time campers or those without their own gear, book a site equipped with all the necessities for sleeping in the outdoors. Cote-a-Fabien Campground offers sites with direct access to the beach. Some sites require campers to park and walk into their site. Backcountry camping is also available with access only by foot, bike or canoe/kayak.

      • Biking (rentals available): Over 60 km of flat, easy trails dedicated to cyclists. Major Kollock Creek Mountain Bike Trail offers more experienced mountain bikers 6 km of rugged terrain to navigate through the woods and along the creek.

      • Canoeing/Kayaking (rentals available): several calm rivers and lagoons are perfect for those looking to explore nature by boat. Be sure to visit the Leaning Tree on the Kouchibouguac River, a tree growing horizontally over the river out of a sandstone outcrop. For a bigger adventure, paddle to Pointe-a-Maxime and camp for the night.

      • Walking trails: Perfectly groomed trails ranging in length from .9 km to 11.3 km offer easy access to the wilderness for all visitors, regardless of skill level. All-terrain wheelchairs are available at no charge, allowing even those with reduced mobility to enjoy the trail systems. Major Kollock Creek and Kouchibouguac River are the longest trails and are rated as medium difficulty.

      • As well, Kouchibouguac National Park offers soft shell Clam fishing, geocaching, activities for kids and interpretation programs. Kouchibouguac is also famous for the beautiful Kellys Beach, which is surrounded by increasingly rare salt marshes.