1. Perimeter Trail, Ministers Island
Ministers Island near St. Andrews By-the-Sea is only accessible at low tide, when you can walk, bike or drive across 1 km of hard-packed sea floor—how’s that for an interesting start to a bike ride? On the island, bike the 7-km Perimeter Trail that goes all the way around the island. The trails are a mix of old carriage roads and paths, and you’ll have lovely ocean views, plus chances to observe white-tail deer and seabirds and to hop off your bike to search for beach glass and seashells. Bring a picnic as there aren’t any restaurants on the island. Take a tour of Covenhoven, a late-19th century 50-room “cottage” and farm that belonged to Sir William Van Horne. Then head home again before the tide comes in. (Check the posted crossing schedule.)
Price: by donation for trails; for touring Covenhoven: $10 for ages 8 and up (note: they only take cash) and free for children under 8
Location: 199 Carriage Road, Ministers Island, (506) 529-5081
2. Callanders Beach Trail, Kouchibouguac National Park
Bike to eastern Canada’s two warmest saltwater beaches along a wide, well-groomed path. The 5.1-km (one-way) trail starts at the South Kouchibouguac campground in Kouchibouguac National Park and follows the curve of the river. Take a good long break at white sand Kellys Beach. With the free Lagoon Life program, you can wade through the shallows with a sea life expert. Plus, there is a picnic area, a boardwalk over the salt marshes and, if you a need a treat, there is an ice cream stand. Once refreshed, head south through the Acadian forest (keep an eye out for rabbits), to the shallow waters of Callanders Beach for more beach time, plus a chance to explore the Big Wigwam with a Mi’kmaq First Nations interpreter.
Price: family day pass $19.60
Location: Kouchibouguac National Park, Acadian Coastal Drive area
186, Route 117, (506) 876-2443,
3. North Riverfront Trail, Fredericton
With 88 km of off-road multi-use trails, Fredericton is easy to explore. Many trails start at the Trail Visitor Centre, where you can pick up a complimentary coffee or tea, trail map, and even have a free bike bell installed. There’s also a bike repair station to use for any tune-ups, and washrooms. The 5.6-km North Riverfront trail is a great ride: bike west to Carleton Park, which has wide-open spaces for kite-flying, as well as large willow and elm trees, and a boat launch for bass anglers. Visit the Ducks Unlimited Conservation Centre (closed weekends) to learn about the wetlands, which are home to waterfowl, osprey and eagles. And at the end of the picturesque trail, explore Nashwaaksis Stream Nature Park. It’s another little natural pocket and includes big hardwood trees and an osprey nest platform.
Location: Fredericton Trail Visitor Centre, 180 Station Road, Frederiction
4. Sugar Mama trail, Atholville
When your trip starts with a chairlift ride up the hill with your bike hooked beside you, you know you’re in for a memorable day. The award-winning Sugar Loaf Bike Park has a variety of mountain bike trails, including two for beginners. The Pump Track at the bottom of the hill is a good place to practise key mountain bike techniques. For instance, you can work on biking downhill, as the gravitational pull of this track allows you to circle it without pedaling or braking. If you’re feeling good about your kids’ cycling skills, take the chairlift up the hill and ride down Sugar Mama, a 2 km-long, 2 m-wide, rolling dirt trail through wooded parkland. Totally cool!
Price: $5 single ride for all ages; half-day adult $17 half-day age 6-18 $15
Location: Sugar Loaf Bike Park, 596 Val D’Amour Road, (506) 789-2366
5. Little River Reservoir Park trail, Saint John
This park on the east side of Saint John has a cool backstory to share with the kids. Formerly used as a gravel pit and then virtually abandoned with lots of junk, it’s been transformed into a beautiful natural area that’s beloved by locals. The 3.4-km multi-use gravel trail around Little River Reservoir offers pedestrians and cyclists peaceful water views, a small waterfall and chances to see ducks in the marsh. There’s a large playground and the sandy Lakewood Beach is supervised.
Location: Little River Reservoir Park, off Loch Lomond Rd., Saint John