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Irving Eco-Center & Bouctouche Dune, on the Northumberland Coast

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When driving from Shediac to Miramichi, New Brunswick, you have your choice of a quick drive on a provincial highway, or a more leisurely route along the coast.  Better still, you can choose a little of both, since Highway 11 repeatedly intersects with the various 3-digit roads that hug the Northumberland Coast.  While much of the route is perfectly scenic, I’d suggest one highlight: the Irving Eco-Center, and its lengthy boardwalk leading out onto Bouctouche Dune.

Location

New Brunswick Highway 11 connects Shediac and Miramichi.  More scenic roads include Route 134, 535, 475, and 505.  If you’re wishing to check out the Bouctouche Dune, use Route 475.

My Visit

My excursion away from Route 11 took me on Route 475 through the town of Bouctouche.  I didn’t stop in town (although you can still see it, in the Drivelapse video below)…

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… but I did pause for a moment at this cemetery, just before the road crosses the Black River.  From the cemetery, you’re looking out onto Bouctouche Harbour.  At the moment, I didn’t know what I was looking at, but across the water, is Bouctouche Dune — a sandbar that’s more than 12 kilometers long, which helps protect the harbour.

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Near the cemetery, there’s a majestic old building that once served as a convent, and now houses the Kent Museum.

Just up the road a bit…

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… I found a great place to access the dune.  This boardwalk begins at the Irving Eco-Centre, which feels like a great place to go on a middle-school field trip.  It had already shut down for the season when I arrived in early October, but access to the boardwalk was still open — and I believe it stays open (and free) throughout the year.

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The boardwalk starts among some nice fall colors…

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… and leads you out onto the dune, where you can look back at the town, and some lucky residents who have quite a view out their windows.

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The boardwalk stretches for 1.8 kilometers (more than a mile — although I’ve read that part of the boardwalk was destroyed by a storm surge in 2010, and I’m not sure if that portion has been rebuilt), but I didn’t hike quite that far.  There are several places where you can access the sand, and at one of those spots, I took the exit, and then walked back to the Eco-Centre along the beach.

While the coastal drive was nice, my real goal for driving up to Miramichi was to find some good Autumn colors.  I decided to prioritize getting there over enjoying the drive, and as a result, I missed some of the scenery along the way.  But as you’ll see on the upcoming pages, the fall leaves were worth it!

Drivelapse Video

Here’s a look at the drive from Shediac to Miramichi, including some scenic coastal driving along the way:

The Bottom Line

New Brunswick’s portion of Northumberland Strait coastline is beautiful, and can be enjoyed on a leisurely drive.  Be sure to check out the Bouctouche Dune along the way.

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