The Nepisiguit Mi’gmaq Trail is a newly recommissioned single-track hiking trail using an ancient Mi’gmaq First Nation migration path in Northern New-Brunswick. It follows the Nepisiguit River for 150km from its source in the highest peaks of the Maritimes to the end of its journey in the beautiful Baie des Chaleurs.
If you like a wide paved path, flashing signs, WIFI and vendors at every corner to suit all your needs, this trail is not for you. For the rest of you, please read on. You can find all the necessary information at www.migmaqtrail.ca.
Here are 10 reasons why you might want to do Sentier Nepisiguit Mi’gmaq Trail.
1 – Get a glimpse of the past
The Indigenous Mi’gmaq people used this ancient path for thousands of years as they would migrate up and down river with the seasons for hunting and gathering to meet their needs. They didn’t leave any infrastructures behind but by the looks of some rocks, you can imagine thousands of people having gone by, at hotspots such as Pabineau Falls. To honour their past, 5 group teepees are set-up in a traditional construction method, along the lower half of the trail. The Nepisiguit River, like most rivers in the province, was the preferred transport route for logs until the 1950s. If you pay attention, you can still see signs of old logging operations.
2 – Stars galore!
Mount Carleton Park is already known to be free of light pollution and a heaven for star gazers. You will get to enjoy this beautiful sky during most of your camping experience, as the Nepisiguit basin has been left pretty much unspoiled from any developments.
3 – Lots of friendly furry friends.
Dream of spotting a moose in its authentic habitat? They sure help maintain the trail by using it. You might want to look where you are walking if you don’t want to step in the evidence too often. How about a deer, a raccoon, a fox or a lynx? The variety of fauna thriving in this forest is amazing and with minimal precautions, you can hike with peace of mind as none of them are significantly dangerous. Mosquitos might freak you out in June, but there are no grizzlies, polar bears or venomous snakes in New-Brunswick.
4 – Enjoy a free acrobatic show.
Watch the salmon jump at Pabineau Falls in September and October, a famous feature on the trail and a favorite Sunday activity for many locals. The Acadian forest will also treat you with an explosion of colour during this period, before the leaves fall down. Don’t forget to look up too, as chances of spotting a majestic bald head eagle circling above are pretty good.
5 – Bathing in oxygen, negative ions and phytoncides does a body good!
Walking mindfully amongst all these beautiful trees, releasing their essential oils and the added bonus of following turbulent water for a week or two is pretty much guaranteed to lower your cortisol level, anxiety and blood pressure. There is no better way to retune that brain to its fullest potential.
6 – Remote but safe.
Enjoy a truly unplugged experience, away from motorised traffic and those annoying cellphone messages. Effectively, you won’t have cellphone reception for most of the way, so you might consider hiking with a buddy or at least bring a satellite safety device. The trail is well marked with our unique reflective turtle signs and a compass will quickly get you out of trouble if ever you manage to lose the trail, as it follows the river all along on the South-East side. There is also access every 6-8 km for your emergency needs.
7 – Meet nice people.
The lower part of the hike ends up in the Bay of Chaleur (Chaleur is French for hot). You probably won’t find the water warm, but people in the region are consistently known to offer a warm welcome. The locals use the lower part of the trail as day hikes and you might get to bump into some of our many volunteers working on the trail. They will likely go out of their way to help you if ever you need it. Doesn’t matter if you speak French or English, you might be in for a long chat.
8 – Same trail – different experiences.
Why not come back during wintertime? The trail can also be rediscovered in a totally different experience on snowshoes, especially in Mount Carleton park and the lower half of the trail. Be very well prepared however in the upper and middle section as most of the access there are unavailable yet during winter.
9 – Need more adrenaline?
If hiking 150 km is not quite enough to push your limits, you might want to consider registering to one of 2 major events using the trail as a playground. The annual Défi Nepisiguit Challenge, in early October is a 2-day triathlon of trail running, canoeing and mountain biking with optional checkpoints, testing your orienteering skills. The first edition of Mi’gmaq Ultra trail during the Labour Day weekend in September 2020 will let you try to run the whole trail within 36 hours.
10 – Come now, before it’s crowded.
Ever heard the phrase “I wish I knew about this trail before it became popular “? It’s hard to improve on nature, especially in this undeveloped part of the province, but hikers will likely appreciate the extra efforts put together by the local volunteers. Nice suspension bridges, just enough boardwalks and a few observation decks blend well with the landscape. Their proudest achievement won’t stay a secret for very long. Now would be a great time to enjoy the trail before it gets busier.