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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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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