A trail in northeastern New Brunswick made National Geographic’s list of the world’s 25 best travel destinations for 2022 – the only Canadian destination to earn a spot.
The 150-kilometer Sentier Nepisiguit Mi’gmaq Trail – the longest hiking trail in the Maritime backcountry – follows the Nepisiguit River system from Bathurst, New Brunswick, to Mount Carleton Provincial Park.
It spans a range of landscapes and views, from a river delta to the Appalachian Mountains, and has suspension bridges, waterfalls, rapids, cliff lookouts, and endless kayaking and kayaking possibilities. canoe.
But perhaps the trail’s most significant feature is its millennial legacy as a Mi’kmaq migration route.
“For over 10,000 years the Mi’kmaw people have used it as a major migration route,” trekked inland to hunt moose and caribou in the winter and return to the coast for fishing in the summer, said Jason Grant, trail manager for the non-profit Sentier Nepisiguit Mi’gmaq Trail Association, which develops and maintains the trail.
Before contact with the Europeans, Grant said, these were the main inland routes, accessible only on foot or by canoe.
“And New Brunswick, with its many rivers and waterways, has multiple portages and ancient native roads that are still visible to this day,” he said.
Grant does not hide that he is “a little biased” about the breathtaking beauty of the trail. But even he was surprised to learn that he was on the “best in the world” list.
“It was a total surprise to me,” he said in an interview on Monday. “I don’t think the base volunteers or the original organizers realized that he would ever achieve National Geographic status. So that’s pretty exciting for us.”
Robust, distant and stimulating
The Nepisiguit Mi’gmaq Trail is not a trail to be taken lightly.
At 150 kilometers in length, this is sometimes a difficult trail that can take up to 12 days from start to finish, with “experienced and hard-working hikers” completing it in three or four days.
“It takes me six days to hike the trail and I’ve done it twice,” Grant said.
There is also no cell service on about 85 percent of the trail. “So when you’re there, you really are there,” he said.
However, he noted, the trail has a lot to offer for novices and occasional hikers, as well as day hikers who just want to hike a few miles and have a picnic near a waterfall.
The key is to plan your trip.
The trail website has plenty of tips and safety tips for those planning to hike the trail, including descriptions of the different areas and the hiking challenges they present, as well as maps of the 21 trail access points. .
Teepee campsites, Mi’kmaq legends
The National Geographic list of the world’s most exciting destinations for 2022 groups the 25 destinations into five categories: nature, sustainability, culture and history, family and adventure.
The Nepisiguit Mi’gmaq Trail falls under the adventure category, with Costa Rica, the Seine in France, the Rocky Islands of Palau and the Arapahoe Basin in Colorado. National Geographic launches its description of the trail with a tribute to its mythical roots.
“A turtle-shaped rock near Nepisiguit Falls, in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, carries with it a legend told by the Mi’kmaq people,” reads. “When the water levels drop, the ‘turtle’, named Egomoqaseg, or ‘rock like a moving ship’, appears to come out of the river.”
He also quotes Grant explaining that according to the legend, which was passed down to him by his Mi’kmaq elder stepfather Gilbert Sewell, “once the turtle is completely out of the water it will be the end of the world” for them. Mi’kmaq.
“To promote respect for the relevance of the trail to the Mi’kmaq people, the road restoration, completed in 2018, included the integration of Mi’kmaq language and culture, such as tipi campsites and a turtle inspired by Egomoqaseg, ”National Geographic said.
Put all New Brunswick trails on the world map
For Grant, who said he has received dozens of calls since the list was published, it is an exhilarating recognition of the history of the trail and the efforts of the trail’s countless volunteers.
“And, of course, the help from the grants we got from the province and the support we get from local businesses and donations,” he said. “It’s such a great reward after all the hard work.”
He hopes this is a reward he can share with the many other “spectacular” trails in the province.
“There are so many great things going on in New Brunswick right now,” said Grant.
“There are other paths popping up everywhere; they are all friends of ours and we support them all. And collectively, we would like to put New Brunswick on the world map.