I’m a nature lover! It seems like I was born that way. Since I was young I’ve spent as much time as possible outdoors. I grew up in Ireland and enjoyed roaming the green fields of the ‘Emerald Isle’, I later moved to Australia and enjoyed working outdoors in the Aussie ‘Outback’ / ‘Bush’. Naturally, when I came to Canada I wondered, “what does Moncton have to offer?”
I was thrilled to find that New Brunswick is filled with nature parks! Compared to other countries I’ve visited there is a large amount of freshwater lakes and rivers located throughout the landscape. I had only been in Moncton about a month before I discovered Centennial Park; possibly Moncton’s best known Nature Park.
Centennial Park has remained one of my favorite parks in Moncton, it’s a great place to bring family or friends and enjoy the trails, lake, playpark and dog park. Centennial Park has a mix of well paved trails and smaller gravel trails. My personal favorites are the lynx and Muskrat trail, these are both smaller trails that are less popular with nice foliage on either side. Additionally, Centennial park is a great place to come and see some Canadian geese – you can check that off your Canadian bucket list!
Get your snow shoes ready for winter, there are a few dedicated snowshoeing and skiing trails. These are a great way to get a little experience not far from home. One of my favorite things to do at Centennial Park in the winter is to dress up warm with a winter coat, hat, boots and gloves, grab a hot chocolate from the nearby Cafe Codiac and hit the trails for a short walk. Don’t let winter stop you! Instead, enjoy a hot drink steaming in the crisp air and the ‘crunch’, ‘crunch’, ‘crunch’ of snow under your feet.
My next favorite spot in Moncton is Mapleton Park. This one is a little larger and is located closer to North Moncton down Mapleton Road. Mapleton park is slightly different, there are less paved trails and more trees! It was here that I saw my first Canadian woodpecker, it was amazing to watch in action, chunks of wood were chopped out of the tree in a matter of minutes! I won’t forget my first time seeing this beautiful bird.
Additionally, this is possibly the best place in Moncton to see squirrels and chipmunks, especially in winter. Lots of people leave seeds by the sides of the trails, so they become very used to seeing people and you can really have a close-up look. There is also the possibility of seeing a beaver as trees are frequently being felled by these little terraformers!
This is also a great place to take your bicycle, you can cycle from the wooden lodge, the whole way around a nice circuit that is well maintained with very few hills. Just remember it’s a shared trail so don’t go too fast!
Irishtown Nature Park
Irishtown Nature Park is another personal favorite of mine. Maybe it’s my Irish blood, but I find this park a very peaceful place. In fact, I even chose to come to this place to think and compose my wedding vows! The still water at the lake really provides a break from the ‘city life’ and once you are on the trails you feel that you are truly out in Nature.
From my time spent working in the Australian bush, my eyes are always open for wildlife and interesting flora and fauna around me. Once I was walking with my wife and I said “oh there’s a snake!” I don’t think she quite believed me, snakes aren’t common in New Brunswick. But, sure enough, there it was, a small garter snake no bigger than a large worm! You never know what Irishtown has to offer!
Mill Creek Nature Park
Finally, if you live in Riverview, you must explore Mill Creek Nature Park. This park recently opened and has new trails. There aren’t many amenities so make sure you come prepared. Most of the trails here are a little longer, around 5k or so. It’s a great place to come with friends and enjoy a nice walk. In fact, there is even a little fire pit with wood that overlooks the lake. This one is worth checking out!
I hope you enjoy these parks and trails as much as I do. It’s important to stay active, especially in winter!