Covered bridges provide some nice scenic detours for road-trippers, but rarely do they stand as a full-fledged tourist attraction on their own. Hartland, New Brunswick’s covered bridge is certainly different. It’s the world’s longest covered bridge. While that title may not seem especially thrilling on paper, it’s absolutely ridiculously big when you see it in person.
The World’s Longest Covered Bridge
It crosses the Saint John River in Hartland, New Brunswick. Hartland is located along Route 105, on the east side of the river. From Trans Canada Highway 2, head north from Woodstock, then take Route 130 and Somerville Road into Somerville (the town on the west side of the bridge). If you’re uncomfortable driving over the bridge, stay on Route 130 and you’ll be able to cross a more modern bridge into downtown Hartland. There you can park and walk across the covered bridge.
If you arrive in town via Trans-Canada Highway 2, as I did, this will be your first view of the World’s Longest Covered Bridge. The road drops down a steep hill to the Saint John River. There you’ll need to stop and wait your turn. This is a one-way bridge, which means you have to look all the way down to the other end, to make sure there are no cars coming your way. The bridge is 391 meters long (1,282 feet, or almost 1/4 of a mile!), so it’s a little bit tricky to see oncoming traffic — and there are no traffic lights or sensors to help.
Once you’re on the Hartland side, there’s a park and parking lot at the end of the bridge, and a gift shop (which is only open seasonally — and had already closed for the winter during the peak of leaf-peeping season!)
From the park, you can get a nice view of the bridge, and you can walk up to the pedestrian path…
… which hangs off the side of the bridge. The pedestrian walkway is open to the inside of the bridge…
… so you can get a good look at this structure’s sturdy bones. You’ll also realize that the bridge should hold another world-record designation: fastest covered bridge. I don’t think there’s any other covered bridge on earth where cars routinely drive at 40 miles per hour or more.
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Here’s what a drive across the bridge looks like!
After that long walk, you’re back on the Somerville side. If you hike about halfway up that steep hill, you’ll find another gift shop – and thankfully this one was open. As far as I could tell, it’s the only place to get your World’s Longest Covered Bridge souvenirs. I suggested to the owner that she add some World’s Largest Axe items as well, since Nackawic had dropped the ball. Maybe she will.
[tmt_info =””]The Hartland Bridge was honored by Google with its own Google Doodle in 2012, on Google’s Canadian page.[/tmt_info]
Once you’ve seen the bridge from both ends, and walked across it, there isn’t much more to do in Hartland. It’s a nice little town, but the business district is just a couple of blocks long. I looked around for another excuse to stop (or maybe another souvenir shop), but I didn’t find one. You can check out the Drivelapse video for a more thorough tour of the town.
Here’s a look at the drive from Nackawic to Hartland…
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… and Hartland to Woodstock:
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It’s well worth your time to detour into Hartland for a look at the World’s Longest Covered Bridge. Photos don’t do it justice – when you see it in person, you realize how oddly out-of-proportion it is to a normal bridge.