Story | Mark Hamerton
Photos | Mark Hamerton & Guy Lebel
With Canada’s population heavily weighted centrally (well, somewhat east of center), in Ontario, it’s no wonder so many ATVers dream about a trip to either of the country’s coastal areas. With the west coast considerably farther, the east coast is often a more popular choice at less than half the distance. Add the snore factor of multiple days of driving across the barren highways of the western provinces before reaching the mountains of Alberta, the scenery on the way out east makes the trip far more appealing.
Anyone travelling to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland by road will most likely pass through Edmundston shortly after entering New Brunswick. What you may not know is just how fantastic the area is for ATVing, and family holidaying in general.
Just over 20 km from the Quebec border and a full day’s drive from Toronto, the city of Edmundston lies on the north shore of the St. John River, with Maine just across the bridge to the USA. This mountainous area is mostly known for logging, and has a rich history of pulp and paper mills as well as the railroads that serviced them. In fact the local tourism of.ce, located at the heart of the town housed within the restored Edmundston train station, offers trail maps, and a taste of the local history.
Our first night in town we stayed at the Quality Inn on Canada Road. This older building has been upgraded to offer all the modern amenities, including a large indoor pool, and ample truck and trailer parking. The ATV trails pass by the end of the parking lot, so no trailering is needed once you have arrived. The next morning we met with Daniel Boucher, the local ATV Tourism Development Of.cer for a guided tour of the trails and destinations to the North West. Martin Small Equipment, a local Can Am dealer was gracious enough to allow us to use one of their new 2015 Commander 800 XT’s that turned out to be the perfect machine to take in the trails. It gave us ample room for our camera gear and was comfortable enough to accommodate a few naps in the passenger seat along the trail.
While riding in the town limits we noticed a unique method to share trails. ATV’s, and Side by Sides are guided to one side of the trail separated by concrete parking curbs from the bicycle and walking side of the trail. The trail speed limit is posted at 20 kmph to avoid excessive noise and dust, and according to Daniel this method works quite well with all users getting along. We crossed the Madawaska River on a picturesque, well maintained bridge that is shared with the local snowmobile club. The structure is .tted with its own rest stop and lookout at the half way point, offering scenic views of the river.
Within minutes we were out of town and on the forest trails, with a good mix of gravel access roads and twotrack bush trail. Our second photo op of the day was a beautifully restored wooden covered bridge spanning Baker Brook River. Built in 1939 and closed to traf.c, this bridge is in fantastic shape and is obviously well maintained. New Brunswick is well known for its covered bridges and the stop makes for an out of the ordinary treat along the way.
A few hours later, after many kilometers of clean mountain air and the engaging trails of the Madawaska ATV Club, we arrived at the Michauds look out. This is a popular stop for group rides, with a large area for ATV parking, a club house and an observation deck overlooking the St. John River and the mountains of Maine on the far side. After gazing across the river valley, taking turns snapping photos and grabbing a quick snack we were on our way once again, traversing back down the mountainside and heading even further west.
We passed through the small town of Clair and stopped for fuel before carrying on to Glazier Lake. Spanning the border between the US and Canada, Glazier Lake is a long deep, cold lake known for excellent Muskie .shing and natural lakeside views. A small private campground offered us a shady spot to stop and enjoy our lunch as a few in the group reveled in stories of the abundance of .sh in this quiet, remote lake. With so much to see in the area, we packed up and got back on the trail. Not far north of the lake we parked our ATVs again and went for a short walk to the recently erected landmark totem pole at the three borders of Quebec, New Brunswick and Maine. The monument was commemorated just the previous year with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in attendance, an odd scenario to imagine as we pushed our way through the weeds and swatted the odd bug as we walked almost a kilometer back to our ATVs. A few meters away across the St. Francis River was Maine, an unusual sight for those of us accustomed to busy multilane border crossings. One member of our group commented “If you took a walk over there it wouldn’t take the border patrol long to arrive, and you would be in some hot water!” I’m not sure how that works miles from the nearest road or town, but I wasn’t interested in testing the idea.
After more trail riding it was getting close to supper time as we came out of the mountains and along the shoreline of Lac Baker, a larger lake busy with power boats and lined with cottages and boathouses. After a few minutes on pavement we pulled in to the Rest “O” Lac, a full service restaurant and campground. We were seated in the huge open concept dining room with a breathtaking view of the lake from our table, and treated to a taste of some ice cold local beers. I tried one of the horror movie characterthemed nachos called “Freddy” and the white beer “Tante Blanche,” and let me tell you both went down very well. The service was fast and friendly, and everyone was impressed with their meals; de.nitely a great spot to wrap up a day of great trails and good friends.
The route back to the hotel took us along the top of the local ski hills in Edmundston, and after 13 hours of riding we were happy to see our second night’s accommodation, the Best Western Plus on the northeast side of town. This new hotel boasted a grand lobby with a winding staircase, and a pool with a water slide. The rooms were large and the beds were, I don’t know, so comfortable that I passed right out.
On our last day in the area we embarked once again from the hotel parking lot and headed east to the Green River Observation Tower. These trails were more challenging and climbed for what seemed like an eternity to a publicly accessible observation tower atop one of the highest peaks in the area. Climbing the stairs to the top deck we were rewarded with a view of the St. John River and endless views in all directions, giving us a real sense of the lay of the land and the rugged forests that cover the area.
After a stop at the mammoth wooden deck chair at the rest stop along the highway we were back in town and ready to head out on our trek farther east to the trails near Moncton and the Bay of Fundy. Edmundston and the surrounding area clubs have made this a truly ATV friendly destination, and if you plan a trip out east, don’t pass by without stopping for a few days to take in the incredible riding that this area has to offer.
This article was originally published in the October 2015 issue of Go Riding Magazine. Be sure to get all the latest ATV & Off Road news in your hands by subscribing today. If you missed an issue on the stands, or would like a copy of the issue this article was featured in, back issues are also available. Go Riding Magazine gift subscriptions are also available.