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The Miramichi
Canoeing in New Brunswick
©Outdoor Adventure Canada

Very few rivers have names as evocative as the Miramichi in New Brunswick. The Mighty Miramichi, as it is sometimes referred to, flows out into Miramichi Bay in north-eastern New Brunswick. Where it comes from is more difficult to ascertain. The Miramichi, renowned as the most important Atlantic Salmon River in the world, is fed by countless streams, brooks and tiny lakes which constitute a huge watershed. The longest and best known of its branches is the Main South West Miramichi.

The Main South West Miramichi practically cuts the province in half, from west to east, beginning roughly mid point between Grand Falls and Fredericton. Its most populated area is at its mouth, near the city of Miramichi; towns are dotted regularly as you travel upstream and thin out once you get past Boiestown.

There are many outfitters and lodges in and around the Doaktown area. These offer adventures which can include as much as a fully appointed and stocked private cabin on the river's edge for a lovers' weekend to as little as a canoe, paddles and pfds for half day trips. Enthusiasts more inclined to discover the wilder side of the Miramichi will have to head up river towards Juniper Station. Its ultimate source is situated on land belonging to the oil/paper magnate JD Irving. The first publicly accessible put in is at Half Moon, near Dearside.

The best time to ensure the water level of the streams, where the Mighty Miramichi is modest indeed, are high enough is in late spring. Unfortunately, that is also the every-possible-bug-that-bites season. Bring industrial quantities of insect repellant and, if you are particularly sensitive or want to keep your sanity, bug nets. The geography near the headwaters consists of wooded pools linked by winding streams. Again, water level is a consideration to avoid scraping bottom, or worse, having to portage from one pool to the next.

The river route from the Half Moon put in to Boiestown can be paddled in 2 or 3 days, depending on how aggressive you choose to be. It includes several rapids and swifts and areas where it is definitely better to stop and scout prior to continuing. Make sure you have an accurate, detailed and up to date map before you set out.

One interesting side trail accessible from the riverside is that which leads to Falls Brook Falls. It is a wood road leading up a steep incline which can be seen just past an island, about 30 minutes downstream from Clearwater. Falls Brook Falls, the tallest in New Brunswick, drops 24 metres before hitting the rock wall and tumbling the last 6 metres in a puff of mist. The falls are on private property and there is a cost to access the site.

A popular take out spot is at the Hayesville Bridge, about one hour after the Miramichi re-enters civilization. If you don't mind being back in the populated areas, continue on to Boiestown. En route, you will encounter rocky swifts from pool to pool, but no real rapids.

All along the route are campsites, each situated, it seems, to enable the visitor to more fully appreciate some feature of the landscape. There are wooded peaks, meadows, islands - all areas where if you are lucky you can observe moose, deer and several species of aquatic birds and birds of prey. There are also cabins which the owners leave open to other travelers, asking only that they be left in the same state they were found in.

Canoeing the Miramichi is a memorable adventure in a region full of beautiful scenery and unspoiled waterways.

Written by Mariane Coulombe
Photos courtesy Miramichi Memories

   
 
           
masthead photo courtesy photos.com
 

 

 

 

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