This article is a sneak preview of our upcoming special issue. See details at Exploring Our Trails.
There was a time when I dreaded winter and everything about it: the cold, the snow, the shoveling, scraping, shivering, slogging through slush. Each morning, as I climbed in my cold car for the half-hour drive to work in the dark, I muttered, “I hate this part.”
My grumpiness didn’t contribute much to my well-being. I soon decided if I was going to live in the Maritimes, I’d better find something to like about winter. Enter snowshoeing, downhill and cross-country skiing.
Now, no matter whether I’m exploring or hitting the trails during daylight hours, or at night with a gentle snow falling past my headlamp, I’m grateful to live in such a marvelous place. Albert County has many beautiful areas to explore if you don’t mind making your own path (e.g., follow any of the marsh dykes!), but here are just a few of the more well-travelled winter trails.
Start off your winter fun in Hillsborough. Park behind the Post Office, don your snowshoes or cross-country skis and head to the Wetland Trail system which circles around three ponds and out to the gypsum silos by the Petitcodiac River. Return on the road to the water tower, or travel the dykes towards Edgett’s Landing or to Grey’s Island. These paths are ungroomed, but chances are someone was there ahead of you to break trail.
On many occasions, I’ve headed to the White Rock Recreation Area adjacent to the Golf Club Road for a real workout. Thanks to the dedication of the Codiac Cycling Trails (CCT) group (www.facebook.com/pg/CodiacCyclingTrails), we now have a network of well-marked trails to enjoy year round.
The CCT have kindly provided full trail descriptions online at Trailforks.com as well as a winter update on the groomed trails.
Groomed snowmobile trails circle the White Rock area. These are good for those who may want a more level walking surface with less vertical climb, although please be safe and step off to the side when you hear snowmobiles coming.
QUICK TIP: Take a photo of the trail map (large one located at the parking area off Golf Club Road and smaller ones positioned at some of the main trail junctions) with your phone to keep as reference until you get used to the network. Another tip is to set your phone on ‘airplane mode’ while travelling to both save battery power AND enjoy your walk/ride/snowshoe without binging, dinging and ringing.
The trails are perfect for snowshoeing too, but pay attention to trail etiquette (see below). Check for maps and rules here. Snowshoeing is also possible on other park trails, although not groomed. Caribou Plain, East Branch, and part of the Upper Salmon River trail (around Headquarters Campground) have been "flagged" for snowshoeing.
There are also over 23 km of trails for fat bikes in the Chignecto Recreation Area. These are shared trails and riders should yield to people on snowshoes and skiers. Fat bikers are permitted on the snowshoe side on the groomed trails only. Trail maps and rules here.
Want to try Fat Biking? Mike’s Bike Shop in Dieppe has fat bike rentals. Outdoor Elements in Sussex has both fat bikes and snowshoe rentals.
Mechanically groomed trails take many hours of labour after every snowfall, often by volunteers. Respect their dedicated work. When the snow is soft, no foot traffic please...use snowshoes so the trails remain in good shape for others. Also, keep in mind that walking or snowshoeing on top of parallel cross-country ski tracks makes it difficult for skiers.
Please use common sense when meeting others on the trail. If it’s easier for you to step off the trail and yield to someone else, then do so.
Keep pets on leash and pack out any garbage or dog droppings.
For more information on Trails, see Exploring Our Trails.