1. Ocean Floor Walk, Alma
The Bay of Fundy is famous for its massive tides that recede twice a day, leaving an expanse of mud flats that stretch for about a kilometre from the high water mark to the water’s edge. As you walk out, your budding marine biologists can discover teeny ocean creatures like rock crabs, barnacles, periwinkles and dog whelk sea snails. Explore on your own or take a guided beach walk. Tip: Wear water shoes or rubber boots.
Go hiking: Fundy National Park, Hwy 114 506-887-6000 Family day pass: $19.60 pc.gc.ca>
2. Irving Nature Park, Saint John
Just outside of Saint John, this environmental oasis has eight wood chip trails, ranging from just 0.3 kilometres for your youngest hiker to a still manageable 3.5 kilometres. The park boasts a long peninsula with a sandy cobblestone beach on one side and mud flats and salt marsh on the other and is home to six distinct ecosystems and plenty of wildlife. Don’t miss the seal observation deck, where you can watch wild seals sunbathing and diving. Your nature lovers will also enjoy the Children’s Forest, complete with a playground and two cedar hedge mazes. Pack a lunch–there are picnic areas and propane barbecues on site.
Go hiking: Sand Cove Road, Saint John 506-653-7367 Free jdirving.com>
3. Rockwood Park, Saint John
At the heart of Saint John, Rockwood Park offers 55 groomed trails and footpaths that wind through trees, parkland and the shores of freshwater lakes. Start at the Interpretation Centre, where your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans can learn about ongoing research into the three turtle species in the park, check out some displays and pick up a trail map. Then head out through the arboretum via Cliff Trail and up to the lookout, where you’ll have a great view of Lily Lake and the beach. Continue to the playground and horse stable area by Fisher Lakes Drive and come out on the other side of Lily Lake. All that is packed into a two-kilometre hike and is a great overview of this beloved park.
Go hiking: Sandy Park Road, Saint John 506-658-2883 Free rockwoodpark.ca>
4. Maliseet Trail, near Meductic
Easy access? Check. Slightly rugged but doable trail through hardwood and softwood forests? Check. Tall, misty waterfall at the end? Check. Maliseet Trail, west of Fredericton, is a two-kilometre (one-way) trail that was part of a travel route used for generations by Maliseet First Nations people. Today, it’s a beautiful walk through the woods that the whole family will enjoy. After you’ve hiked just over a kilometre, the trail branches out to the right to take you to Hays Falls, then branches out again: the left trail goes to the top of the falls, and the right trail goes to the bottom. Either spot is a great place to watch the rushing water fan out over mossy shores and enjoy a snack.
Go hiking: Hwy 65, between Woodstock and Meductic 1-800-526-7070 Free sentiernbtrail.com>