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The Most Definitive Guide to Hiking in New Brunswick

Four Falls near Perth Andover

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Squirrel Trail at Irving Nature Park

Quick Facts

Difficulty easy
Trail Type loop
Distance 1.9 km
Estimated Time 1 hr 15 mins
Surface Type forested, boardwalk
Elevation Change 48 meters
Features bay, mudflats
Trail Markers signs
Scenery Rating beautiful
Maintenance Rating well maintained
Cell Reception strong
Dog Friendly on a leash
Fees none
GPS File available on request

Store

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Description

The Squirrel Trail has a lot packed into a short distance. Turning left at the top of the hill by Saints Rest Beach will take you along the clifftops overlooking Manawaganish Island and the bay. On the west section you will have views of west Saint John across Saints Rest Marsh. Make sure you look for trees that have been stripped of their bark. This has been done by the large porcupine population on the island. On one of our trips we came face to face with one that was sitting in a tree at face level. When you reach the parking lot on the island you will get open views of the bay.

When crossing over the island near the parking lots you will pass by some outhouses. After you cross one of the roads you will soon come to a trail on the right. This is a short side trail that takes you up to the observation deck. It's well worth the trip for the views of Saints Rest Marsh. There is also a viewing scope on the observation deck.

Lookout platform on the Squirrel Trail at Irving Nature Park

Continue down the hill from the Observation Deck side trail and you will soon cross another road. The trail then comes to a trail junction near the shores near the mouth of Saints Rest Marsh. Turning left will take you deeper into the island. Turning right will take you back towards the main parking lot. The trail back to the main parking lot undulates up and down along the shore eventually coming out to the boardwalk on the left. There are not many views of the marsh from the trail but the boardwalk makes up for it. The boardwalk goes out into the marsh to just before the main stream channel. Depending on the tides the boardwalk may be surrounded by water or surrounded by mudflats.

A short distance from the boardwalk and you will come out onto the park road. You can continue on the trail up the hill to the trail junction but it's much easier to just walk the short distance (70 metres) out the park road to the parking lot.

Map

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Directions

For directions to the park check out the Irving Nature Park page.

From the main parking lot at the start of Taylor's island, at the end of Saints Rest Beach, the Squirrel Trail climbs the hill on the left nearest the beach. At the top of the hill you can either turn left or right on the loop. The trail crosses the park roads just after they split near the entrance to Taylor's Island.

Parking lot at Irving Nature Park

The other end of the loop trail can be accessed from the large parking lots in the middle of Taylor's Island. Park in either of these parking lots and walk back the road a short distance. You will see the trail enter the woods going downhill on the left or uphill on the right. The trail goes along the left side of the upper (east) parking lot.

From the Sign

Stonehammer Geopark

During the 'Last Glacial Maximum', about 20,000 years ago, continental glaciers covered much of North America, including the Maritimes. By 10,000 years ago New Brunswick was 'ice-free'. As glaciers retreated they left piles of sand and gravel along their margin called 'moraines' and 'outwash'. These piles of sediment are often used as sand and gravel quarries. Glaciers grinding across the rock made scratches or striations on the bedrock on Taylor's Island.

About 15,000 years ago a glacier stood here at the Irving Nature Park. It was a 'tidewater glacier' since glacier ice was up against the ocean. Red clay along the beach cliff is composed of ocean sediment up against the Sheldon Point Moraine. Fossils of snails, clams, sea urchins and starfish have been found in the clay. As the glacier continued to retreat it left other moraines. Looking northwest from the beach, Manawagonish Road on the hill is built on the Manawagonish Moraine. This moraine acted as a dam and forced the St. John River to flow through the Reversing Rapids.

Stonehammer sign on the Squirrel Trail at Irvint Nature Park

From the Sign

SALT MARSHES

Salt marshes, one of the most ecologically rich habitats on earth, play an important role in the marine food chain by providing food and shelter for many coastal creatures.

Usuually salt marshes, like Saints Rest, are formed in protected sea bays associated with rivers. Although salt marshes appear to be flat, uniform, expanses of grass lands, they are dissected by many small creeks, channels and ponds. Plants and animals that live here have had to adapt to the sea's tidal rhythms.

Salt Marshes sign on the boardwalk at Irvint Nature Park

Shellfish, such as periwinkles, and fin fish, such as herring, use the salt marsh as nursery areas. The great blue heron wades in tidal ponds stalking its food. The black duck breeds and winters in the marsh. During spring and late summer, a wide variety of shorebirds, including greater yellowlegs, and spotted sandpipers, rest and feed here during their migratory journeys.

The marsh boardwalk was built to allow close observation of this fragile ecosystem without placing it at risk.

From the Sign

Oh Salt Marsh, How do We Love Thee? Let us count the ways...

  1. Salt marshes are marine life nurseries. Lucky are the fish, shellfish, crabs and shrimp that start life in a salt marsh. Here they find shelter from harsher open-ocean conditions, lots of food, and places to hide from predators. Even after these animals grow up they continue to rely on the marine food web that salt marshes support.
  2. Migrating birds - such as Canada Gees, Black Ducks, American Wigeons, Great Blue Herons, Greater Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers and Black-bellied Plovers - use salt marshes to rest and feed during their long migration journeys. Mammals such as deer and raccoons also visit the marsh to find food.
  3. Salt marshes clean our environment - A marsh's abundant and fast-growing plant life filters sediments and contaminants out of water that passes through the marsh.
  4. Salt marsh plants give life beyond their death - dead plants are broken down by tiny animals and fungi, and these plant bits are swept away by the tides to provide food for life outside the marsh.
  5. Salt marshes protect shoreline property by absorbing storm surges - wave and wind energy that could otherwise damage our shorelines and coastal communities.
Marsh sign on the Squirrel Trail at Irvint Nature Park

Saint's Rest Marsh is one of the largest salt marshes along the Bay of Fundy's northern shore. Most of this Marsh lies within the Irving Nature Park, while the rest (approximately 8 hectares) is owned and protected by the Nature Trust of New Brunswick. This land was generously donated to the Nature Trust by Mrs. Lois (Carvell) Ellis in 1996 so it would remain in its natural state for future generations.

Trail Last Hiked: February 5, 2020.

Page Last Updated: April 19, 2020.