The locals have been telling me that Fredericton is best explored on two wheels. So, I bought a bike and started exploring. The last few weeks, I’ve been biking, hiking, and swimming at Killarney Lake Park. I’ve quickly fallen in love with the park, especially it’s winding trails. There’s nothing quite like biking through the forest, wind in your hair, and burn in your legs.
Here’s what I’ve learned about the park and why I think you should visit!
About Killarney Lake Park
Killarney Lake Park lies within the traditional territory of the Wolastoqiyik First Nation. It’s on the north side of Fredericton, 1653 St Marys St., and occupies 645 hectares. The park is home to over 20 kilometres of trails that are used year round by hikers, bikers, skiers, and snowshoers. The trails are wide, 6-12 feet, and a mix of gravel and compact soil. They are groomed in the winter and maintained year-round.
On the Western edge of the park lies Killarney Lake, a freshwater lake that locals use for swimming, fishing, and paddling. In the summer months, lifeguards patrol the buoyed area throughout the day. The water is quite warm in July and August. There is a beach area, small playground, parking area, change rooms and picnic tables. Washrooms are a short walk away at the Rotary Centennial Lodge.
For anglers, the lake is stocked with brook trout. You just need to acquire the necessary license beforehand. There’s a Canadian Tire nearby, off Route 148, that sells fishing licenses.
Along the perimeter of the lake is a wide walking trail, named the Lake Loop. The loop is 1.7 kilometres. It’s the most popular walking trail in the park and you’ll find many families and dog walkers using it. Dogs must be kept on leash on this trail and throughout the rest of the park. My dog loves walking here in the summer because the forest trails provide lots of cool shade.
The Lake Loop trail is made of compact soil and gravel. It is compact enough that I regularly see people walking with strollers without any problems. Staggered along the loop there are a four benches, not counting the picnic tables near the beach.
On the south-western side of the Lake Loop, you’ll cross a small wooden bridge. This area has a nice view of the lake. On the other side, technically still Killarney Lake, is a small “pond” that is home to many frogs.
The trail system at Killarney Lake Park is well marked and ranked by difficulty. The difficulty rating is to assist skiers, but can give walkers and bikers some idea of the terrain. Green trails are the easiest while black trails have some challenging hills. At regular intervals, there are signs directing you towards the Rotary Centennial Lodge – very useful if you lose your way.
All that said, if you are unfamiliar with the area and plan on wandering, I recommend bringing a cell phone. That way, you can check your location with a map program and have a way to contact someone should you get lost.
Flora and Fauna
Visit Killarney Lake Park in the late spring and you’ll find apple trees blossoming near the beach. The blooming trees make for spectacular photos. The spring is also a good time to see flowers. Painted trilliums, lady’s slipper, rhodora, and forget-me-nots grow along trail edges.
Other common plants in the area include: Labrador tea, bluebead lily, starflower, wild sarsaparilla, Canada mayflower, eastern teaberry, violet, mountain holly, spreading dogbane, wild angelica, bog myrtle, cinnamon fern, colt’s foot, whorled wood aster, trailing arbutus, partridge berry, burdock, field horsetail, and fireweed.
As for animals, you’ll likely encounter the American red squirrel and hear pileated woodpeckers and yellow-bellied sapsuckers pecking away at trees. Other common birds are hooded mergansers, Canada geese, mallards, and Canada jays. Children often catch green frogs and northern leopard frogs along the shoreline. Other park visitors and inhabitants include white-tailed deer, garter snakes, raccoon, porcupines, spotted salamanders, and snowshoe hare.
When to Visit
The park is a popular destination in all seasons. The summer brings out beachgoers and the winter cross country skiers. If you plan to walk the Lake Loop in the winter, bring ice cleats or snowshoes as it can get very icy.
Spring and early summer can be killer for mosquitoes. Bring some bug spray and you’ll be fine. Alternatively, biking is the perfect way to avoid them without dosing in DEET.
In the summer, the beach can get crowded on the weekends. If you can make it out on a weekday, you’ll find the beach relatively empty. In July and August, the Lake Loop is popular, but never too crowded and trails further interior are generally vacant.
Other Posts You May Enjoy
Killarney Lake Park Management Plan. 2020. City of Fredericton. PDF.
Killarney Lake Park: Trails and Maps. Woastawea.
iNaturalist. Search Fredericton, New Brunswick.