I know I’ve done a podcast on this (DSO-25) and I’ve written a short post about it but it is a fabulous hike. Here’s the column I wrote about this special and mysterious place in the New Brunswick wilderness.
I’ve been to the ‘Eye of the Needle’ three times and I’m still not sure where it is. But it really doesn’t matter. The ‘Eye’ is either a waterfall or a narrow opening between cliff walls. Either way it’s a natural attraction in one of the most spectacular areas of New Brunswick. I know I’ve seen it even though I can’t pinpoint its exact location.
I’ve heard about this place for years from hikers and others who have explored the Fundy coastline between St. Martins and Fundy National Park. The first time I hiked the Fundy Footpath we were supposed to visit the ‘Eye’ but ran out of time. Since then the three times I’ve been there were during day hikes specifically to the site. To get there you drive past Poley Mountain ski area and then continue to Adair’s Wilderness Lodge and after a few twists and turns on the back roads where I always get lost, you end up at the trail head to Dustan Brook and the mouth of the Little Salmon River.
The trail takes you down about 7 or 800 feet to sea level and the Little Salmon. This is a popular camping spot for hikers on the Footpath. There are a number of good sites and access to drinking water. When you reach the river it’s time to switch from boots to sandals as the walk from here on is mostly in water. The scenery is incredible and you pass by remnants of the former logging and shipbuilding heritage of the area. Partly hidden in brush beside the river is part of an old boiler. There’s wildlife around every turn. This fall when I was there we saw a big deer cross the river just in front of us. Another time we encountered two moose in the stream ahead.
The trail takes you up river for about half an hour and then up a tributary of the Little Salmon. This is where it really starts to get interesting. The water is faster and the rocks are bigger. You’re walking through a gorge that gets narrower the farther you go. At one point you can almost touch the cliff walls on either side by spreading out your arms. They tower a couple of hundred feet straight up. This is what I used to think was the ‘Eye of the Needle’. It still might be.
From there you continue up stream and round a bend and the going gets even tougher. Eventually you end up at a major waterfall. There is supposed to be a rock formation somewhere here that forces the water to shoot out of a hole in a peculiar way. This too is supposed to be the ‘Eye’. I’ve probably passed by it and not realized it. At this point you’re at the bottom of a canyon surrounded by cliff walls. High above another waterfall shoots over the cliff face and this also I’ve been told is the ‘Eye of the Needle’. From here you join a trail that climbs up a few hundred feet and eventually leads to the top of the canyon and an incredible lookout. This is a popular spot visited not only by hikers but also by ATV riders. It’s called the ‘Grand Canyon of New Brunswick’. And it lives up to that bill in every way.
So that’s the hike. Pick whatever ‘Eye’ you want because they’re all worth seeing. It’s a place every person who loves the outdoors should experience. Visit the webpage at doingstuffoutdoors.com to see pictures of the area and listen to the Doing Stuff Outdoors-25 Podcast for a special program on hiking to the ‘Eye of the Needle’ and the ‘Grand Canyon of New Brunswick’. And if you know where the ‘Eye’ really is, be sure to let me know.