July 14, 2009
Ride and Hike to Green Head
The other night I was looking for an evening bicycle ride and remembered hearing about cliffs at Green Head, Near Dominion Park, in Saint John West. The ride was just what I needed. An hour on my bike and a 2 km hike with a dash of exploring.
I packed some things, a sweater, some water, my headlamp, and a clif bar, then hit the road. I pedaled down Harbour Passage, enjoying the smooth red pavement, then climbed over the hill to the Reversing falls Bridge. After a couple simple turns to the North, I crossed the tiny bridge and found myself on the Rectangular Island that faces into Grand Bay.
When exploring a new area I like to bike to the end of roads so that I can develop a mental map of the place. So I followed the main road, soon arriving at Dominion Park Beach. The beach was not my scene. 'Man Trucks' blared crappy radio rock in the parking lot, while people slammed back pop from the canteen. No cliffs in sight. I turned to the remaining road on the island, climbed a steep hill on my bike and came across a woods road that went North. (On google maps this is labeled as an extension of Greenhead Road.) This road has been blocked off with a few large boulders. Eager to find some wilderness and knowing there was still a lot of Island left to the North, I stashed my bike and started hiking.
I followed this straigt forward ATV road for 2 km, admiring the big old forest, and soaking up spectacular views from a powerline clearing on the highland. Big forested hills rumpling into the sparking water, reminding me of hiking along the Saanich Peninsula, just north of Victoria, BC. The road ended at a small cove that was backed by tall limestone cliffs. I was blown away by the rugged landscape. The site has been a quarry once and bizarre formations remain.
I scrambled up scree slopes and walked along narrow limestone ridges that reminded me of hiking in the Canadian Rockies near Canmore. The rock was identical. The cliffs were tall and held some potential for rock climbing. Though, like I had heard the most impressive face, 100 ft of slightly overhanging blank rock, was nearly completely blank. The bulk of it was devoid of cracks and holds. But beautiful in its own right. The 50-60 foot rambling cliffs on either side of the big face could hold easier sport routes. And I did see the potential for a line through a large flake that would only require a couple bolts to protect the top third. If quarrying had taken place on this face, then nature had hidden the scars. The rock was clean and weathered.
I ran into a young couple that regularly enjoying hike in the area. They informed me that the cave, up on the cliff, was at least 100 ft deep and was a popular spot for caving. These two carried on to scramble up one of the cliffs.
This area is also a popular party spot with empty beer bottles in abundance. In my experience, Moose Light is the number one beer bottle tossed in the woods (Coors light cans are close behind). I wonder why this is? Apparently Moosehead has the bush-party/camp market cornered in New Brunswick. Is it the "wild" or "nature" appeal of the name "moosehead"? And why do these manly outdoors men drink "Light" beer? This was the case on Turtle Mountain. The tough guys in their loaded Jeeps, who spray painted naked women on the cliffs, handed us bottles of Moose Light as they drove off the Mountain. I wonder if Moosehead, who is a proud community partner for many events, realizes that its product is often left as trash in the woods?
I soaked up the last of the warm sun from a mini ridge line, overlooking the sparkling bay, banked by countless layers of mountains in the distance. Lots of people enjoy this natural space. Even the ones who leave their garbage behind. I'm glad they use it. We all need some wild in our lives. But what has caused them to accept leaving trash behind? This gives me something to to think about on the ride home.
Local Motion, graham waugh, hiking, saint john, dominion park, green head, cycling, biking routes, cliffs, rock climbing, explore, exploring, road rides,
Where: Saint John West
Distance: 9 km (oneway) from Uptown Saint John to trail head. 2 km (oneway) along ATV trails to cove and cliffs.
Directions: See Google Maps below. From Uptown take Harbour Passage and the Reversing Falls Bridge. Veer Right at Simms Corner, then right again onto Manawagonish Road, and right onto Church Street, and right again onto Greenhead Road. Pass the prominent Church, go down the long hill, cross the small bridge, and keep right on Greenhead Road. Climb to the top of the short hill. This road loops back around to Dominion Park Beach.
The trail head, is marked on the map by the white circle. It is at the top of the hill, directly across from a house. It is marked by a few big stones to keep traffic out. On this trail, stay on the main path. There are couple small side trails, but its obvious that these are not used as much. At the power lines follow the trail to the left and down the big hill. The hike climbs and descends several hills but is relatively easy.
Roads: It's a straight forward route, requiring a minimum of city riding, despite being through the city. Smooth pavement for most of it. Harbour passage is easy to ride and there is a section, though short, of bike lane on Church street. This route is easy to navigate on the way to Green Head because it is all right hand turns.
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