5 Family Friendly Hikes Near Fredericton, NB

Looking for a great way to get outside with little ones? These are my favourite family friendly hikes near Fredericton, New Brunswick! These trails are short, well maintained, and have activities or points of interest for kids. Each one explores a different habitat with opportunities to teach children about local flora and fauna.

Along with trail recommendations, I’ve included activity ideas and resources that are tailored to each location. Whether you choose to do these additional activities or let kids engage in self-directed play, these trails are a great way to spend some time outside as a family.

What Makes a Good Family Friendly Hike?

All of the following trails are relatively flat and easy to follow. They’re also short, stroller friendly, and free to use. I’ve indicated what amenities are available at each location and any surrounding trails or places of interest.

Beaver Pond

Beaver Pond is a family friendly hike near Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Beaver Pond Trail is located in Mactaquac Provincial Park. It’s a 1.3 km loop around a former beaver pond. It takes around 1/2 hour to complete. There are interpretative signs throughout the trail that teach visitors about beaver, frogs, and other flora and fauna in the area.

Boardwalk at Beaver Pond Trail in Mactaquac Provincial Park.

Kids will love the abundance of frogs and the boardwalk crossing the pond. You can also spot a number of bird species in the area. My kid loves watching the great blue herons that frequent the pond – they’re huge!

Friends of Mactaquac Park provide free nature backpacks for kids to use. They contain binoculars, a field guide, critter dipping net, critter keeper, magnifier, field journal and other goodies. In spring and summer, you can sign them out at the park office and campground recreation centre.

If you want to extend your hike into rougher terrain, Beaver Pond Trail connects to Little Mactaquac Trail and Scotch Lake Road Trail. Both trails are difficult with many rocks, roots, wet areas, and steep slopes. You’ll need a child carrier, hiking poles, and a kid who doesn’t mind longer hikes. I’ve done these hikes with my toddler, but I don’t recommend them unless you’re an experienced hiker.

Activities

Critter Dipping: Take advantage of the free critter dipping nets and adventure packs to explore the pond.

Frog Watching: Along the pond there is an interpretative sign showing the types of frogs you can find around the area. Look closely on a warm day and you’re likely to see them along the pond edges and hanging out on logs.

Killarney Lake Loop

Killarney Lake Loop is a family friendly hike near Fredericton, New Brunswick. It has lots of other activities, such as swimming, skiing, and kayaking.

Killarney Lake Loop is a 1.7km trail around Killarney Lake. You can begin the loop at Killarney Beach or the Rotary Lodge. The path is extra wide, forested, and has views of the lake. There are lots of benches along the route and many picnic tables near the beach.

Killarney Lake

Kids will love the forested trail, small playground, beach sand, and swimming in the lake. In summer, the beach is supervised by lifeguards and Second Nature Outdoors rents kayaks and paddle boards on weekends. In spring, apple and serviceberry trees around the beach bloom. They are very beautiful and make a lovely backdrop for family photos.

Killarney Lake is stocked with brook trout and other fish species. I see parents fishing with their kids here all the time. You can also snowshoe and ski through Killarney’s trails in the winter months.

Killarney Lake trails extend for many kilometres should you wish to extend your hike. There are maps at most trail intersections, but they don’t mark your current location. This makes it easy to get lost. Most of the trails are stroller friendly.

Activities

Picnic Time: Pack lunch to eat at one of the many picnic tables located along the beach. Let your kid help plan and prep the meal.  

Fredericton Botanic Garden

The Botanic Garden is a great place for a family friendly hike near Fredericton, New Brunswick. There are lots of different gardens to explore.

The Fredericton Botanic Garden has stroller friendly paths that weave through beautiful gardens. My favourites are the pollinator, literature, and rhododendron gardens. The garden is expanding every year and changing throughout the seasons. Admission is free.

Kids will love looking at all the cool plants. The garden is awash in colour from spring to fall. Bring a magnifying glass so kids can look closely at flowers and insects. There’s lots to discover, including art installations and a giant insect hotel! Tours of the garden can be arranged by giving organizers a call

There is children’s programming at the garden throughout the summer. Garden Explorers is a nature based program that teaches elementary aged kids about plants and bugs through games and activities. There is also story time for preschool age children once a week in both French and English. 

The Fredericton Botanic Garden is connected to Odell Park, a 333-acre park in the heart of Fredericton. It’s one of the last examples of an old growth forest in Atlantic Canada. The giant hemlocks are amazing!

Activities

Paint Swatch Scavenger Hunt: Next time you are at the hardware store, collect some paint swatches and make this paint swatch scavenger hunt. The Botanic Garden has tons of colours to find!

Look Close: Bring a magnifying glass so kids can look closely at flowers and insects. You can print out a diagram of flower parts to help them identify what they are seeing.

Gateway Wetlands and Conservation Area

Gateway Wetlands and Conservation Area is a great place for a family friendly hike near Fredericton, New Brunswick. You can feed the chickadees by hand at this location.

Gateway Wetlands and Conservation Area has a short .77km loop and a larger 1.35km loop. The trails take you through a wetland where you can feed chickadees by hand! The paths are wide and signs throughout teach you about the wetland and its inhabitants.

Kids will love feeding the chickadees! Chickadees eat black sunflower seeds in the shell. Salted or flavoured sunflower seeds harm birds, so make sure you are getting bird friendly seeds. You might also see nuthatches and American red squirrels on the trail. 

There are art pieces and carvings throughout the trail and two covered bridges. You’ll also find plenty of rest benches along the route. Inside the visitor centre there are interpretative signs about the wetland and its history. Staff are knowledgeable about the wetland and Oromocto area, so hit them up with your questions.

Activities

Scavenger Hunt: I designed a wetland scavenger hunt for Gateway Wetlands. The plants and animals are common to the area. Just save and print to bring it along with you.

Wetland Scavenger Hunt designed for Oromocto's Gateway Wetlands and Conservation Area.

Feed the Chickadees: Bring some sunflower seeds to feed the chickadees. You can read about chickadee calls and behaviours on this post I wrote, just skip to the bottom section called “Chickadee Facts.”

Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge

Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge is a great family friendly hike near Fredericton, New Brunswick. The bridge has great views of the St. John River and Fredericton.

Fredericton is home to many walking trails on both the north and south side. The Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge connects the two sides and is around 1/2km long.

Kids will love walking over the bridge. It’s a popular place for families because it gives you a bird’s-eye view of the city and Wolastoq / Saint John River. In June, there is an “Art On the Bridge” event. The bridge is covered end to end with artists’ work for public viewing and for purchase. Past events have had a kids mural painting activity. The bridge is also a great place to see the autumn colours.

Picaroons Roundhouse is located near the bridge on the north side. In the spring and summer, they have ice cream and exceptionally delicious waffle cones. There is tons of outdoor seating with views of the river and adults can indulge in a pint. Afterwards, head over to Carleton Park and watch and feed the ducks. There are dozens of waterfowl hanging out along the shore at any given time.

The Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge connects to the Lincoln Trail and South Riverfront Trail on the south side. On the north side, it connects to the Nashwaak Trail and North Riverfront Trail. All of them are great options to extend your walk.

Activities

I Spy From Way Up High: The Walking Bridge is the perfect place to play a game of “I Spy.” Bring binoculars to get a better view of the city and surroundings.

Stress-Free Hiking With Kids

Along with picking a good trail, there is lots you can do to help make hiking with young kids fun. I’ve written all about that in my post The Ultimate Guide to Stress-Free Hiking With Kids. In it, you’ll find a downloadable kid’s nature journal and more scavenger hunt printables.

The key to hiking with kids is managing your expectations, finding ways to involve them in the planning process, and keeping things safe and lighthearted.

Happy Hiking!

I’d love to hear about your favourite family friendly hikes near Fredericton or in New Brunswick. Let me know in the comments.

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