Published July 2018
The Maritimes’ highest mountain peak is smack-dab in the middle of a provincial park in the Appalachian Mountains of New Brunswick. Its rugged-yet-accessible wilderness draws adventure seekers from all over the world, eager to explore new frontiers and feel the sense of awe that comes from scaling a mountain and relishing the view from its peak. At 820 m (2,690 ft) it’s about a 3-hour hike to the top, a moderate trek through Acadian forest and dry riverbed that gives way to unobstructed views of pure Canadian wilderness.
Some say there’s something almost mystical about Mount Carleton and its surrounding peaks. Maybe it’s the untouched hectares of forest that shroud curious animals from sight. Maybe it’s the human connection to the land that goes back thousands of years through Indigenous communities.
But there’s no question that connections with land and people happen here in a way that few can describe with words. This is one of the reasons the Ross family comes back year after year to find solace in the rocky folds of granite and evergreens.
Family patriarch James Ross booked their first camping trip to the park in 1976. 42 years later, they’re still making the annual trek - now with close to 20 family members and a group of 4-legged friends in tow - for what’s become a beloved family tradition.
Swipe through to read why the Ross’s make sure everyone in the family - from 6 months old to 85 years young - has the chance to climb the mountain and experience this special piece of New Brunswick.
“The calming, soothing sounds of nature here are indescribable. I went when I was younger and enjoyed every minute of it. Now that I’m older, though, I truly understand the importance of this place. Whether it’s with a bunch of friends or my family, every visit is amazing. Mount Carleton, to me, is a place of bonding.” - Bryanna Breau
“Our father, James Ross, loves camping, hiking and adventure. This is why we’ve spent so many family vacations at Mount Carleton Provincial Park. We truly love our time spent here... especially the Nictau Lake cabins. The beauty of the park is simply breathtaking.” - Yvonne Ross
“Since before I can remember, Mount Carleton has been my family’s yearly camping destination. I recall being 8 years old and climbing the mountain. It was absolutely beautiful... a perfect moment. With busy lives and a big family it’s difficult to condense a few trips into one summer. But Mount Carleton is high on our list of favourite places and we always make time for it.” - Britney Noel
“Going to Mt Carleton is the highlight of our summer. But going in the fall is amazing. The leaves change and it’s always the perfect weather to climb. Eating cake on the top of Mt. Carleton is a family tradition! The cabins help to make the laughter and the memories longer, and bring my family together in ways other places can’t.” - Rebeka Ross
“Most of the family stays in the Bathurst Lake cabins (we rent them all!), but dad prefers to tent under the stars with the grandkids. He just loves it.” - Yvonne Ross
“To me, the best part is getting away from our busy lives to bond with family. We love canoeing on the lakes or simply sitting and gazing at the beauty of it all... it’s breathtaking.” - Sheila LeBlanc, née Ross
Although the park is nicely secluded it’s still easy to get to. Located in the north-western portion of the province, it’s accessible by highway from all corners of New Brunswick. About a 3-hour drive from the Acadian Peninsula, 4 hours from Fredericton, and 5 from the Fundy region. The closest cities are Edmundston and Campbellton.
3 campgrounds feature sites for tents and RVs (one accommodates group camping), plus there’s a back-country campground and two lake-side clusters of really cool heritage log cabins (they’ve hosted the likes of storied guests like Babe Ruth and the Yankees, and family of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt).
The view of 10 million trees from the top of Mount Carleton is the icing on the cake, but there’s so much more to do in the park’s 17,000 ha (42,000 acres). Paddling, fishing, interpretive events, and organized activities are just a few. It’s been designated a Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, so you can expect nighttime to be its own show. For a fantastic group hiking experience, join the Seek the Highest Peak guided trek in August.
Pitch your tent, bring your RV, or enjoy the ease of one of our roofed accommodations.