Discover New Brunswick's Northern Odyssey
One of my favourite rides is known as the Northern Odyssey. It's the premier tour loop in the Province of New Brunswick, and it delivers the goods, especially for "been-there-done-that" snowmobilers in search of new adventures.
Northern New Brunswick is typically blessed with the most snow in the Maritimes. Here, many miles of local and connector trails intersperse with over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of trans-provincial trails – more than enough to keep riders grinning from ear to ear on hundreds of old logging roads crisscross the region.
Many of these man-made corridors are groomed as part of the New Brunswick Federation of Snowmobile Clubs' (NBFSC) maintained trail system. Others are simply available for riders to explore off the beaten track.
Trail navigation is good. In fact, New Brunswick has the best trail signage system I’ve seen. On trail maps and signs, blue and 2-digit numbers denote provincial trails. Local and connector trails are green marked with three digits. All of this makes for generally excellent riding and it’s easy getting from one place to another.
However, one sign was conspicuous by its absence. There was no posted provincial speed limit. That's because there isn't one for snowmobiles on most trails, except for slow zones posted by some municipalities.
With so many outstanding trail choices, it's hard to know where to get started and even tougher to know when to quit. Best of all, most of their trails either avoid water crossings or are bridged, so spring riding in the northern New Brunswick interior continues even when ice goes bad elsewhere.
We accessed the Northern Odyssey at its northwest gateway, the City of Edmundston (pop.16,580), located just south of the provincial boundary with Quebec. Snowmobilers coming to New Brunswick through Maine or Quebec need to be aware that thanks to a zone change to Eastern Standard Time, you lose an hour crossing into this province (but regain it going back), so plan accordingly.
Edmundston is a western anchor community for the Northern Odyssey, along with Grand Falls (pop. 5,326) about an hour south via New Brunswick Trail 12. Both communities are located adjacent to the State of Maine along the international border. For our staging hotel, we chose the Best Western Plus Edmundston.
ABOUT OUR RIDE
Our plan was to ride a 4-day Northern Odyssey loop through the wilderness interior staying at the Rodd Hotel, Miramichi, the Atlantic Host in Bathurst and Quality Hotel, Campbellton on New Brunswick's east coast.
Each of these communities has trail accessible accommodations, but another option is to stay at outfitter-style lodges in the interior like we did on our night at Rogers Lake Lodge. Tips: Popular outfitters have limited lodgings, so book in advance, especially in peak season and on weekends. Also, payment for fuel at these locations is often by cash, so carry enough money with you!
Our eastbound route on Trails 19 and 23 went through Saint-Quentin and passed the province’s highest peak, Mt. Carleton (2,690’), on the so-called Candy Cane Trail. Meanwhile, we returned by the parallel, but more northerly Trail 17 through Kedgwick. In all, we racked up almost 750 miles, but there’s so much more riding we could have done!
MORE RIDE OPTIONS
Those with more time could ride south from Serpentine Lake Lodge around the Christmas Mountains on Trail 58 into Miramichi. Or take a day to explore eastward from Miramichi or Bathurst into the historic Acadian Peninsula. It’s worth noting that New Brunswick is arguably Canada’s most bilingual province, so communication is no problem regardless of your language preference, English or French.
Depending on where you’re coming from, another viable option to extend your riding distance is to snowmobile into New Brunswick from Maine (easiest crossing at Houlton) or from Quebec on connecting trails like Trans Quebec 85.
CLOSING THOUGHTS AND TIPS
Northern New Brunswick is an especially picturesque area, with many panoramic views and stunning vistas where we could see for miles over multitudes of hills and valleys. Impressive scenery on this tour includes between Edmundston and Moose Valley on Trails 12 & 17; the Atkinson Tower on Trail 135 north of Moose Valley; the Tower Road windmills on Trail 503 between Popple Depot and Island Lake; and Squaw Cap Mountain, the second highest peak in New Brunswick (1,585’), on Trail 236 just west of Campbellton.
Northern New Brunswick has long been a snow magnet for riders from the New England states, Ontario and Quebec who can be on these trails after trailering no greater distance than they would to other getaway destinations. So be sure to consider New Brunswick’s Northern Odyssey for your next snowmobiling adventure!
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