New Brunswick's largest provincial park, Mount Carleton Provincial Park (established 1970, 174.27 km2), features forests and abundant wildlife.
Located in the north-central highlands of the province, the park's central feature is Mount Carleton (817m), the highest point in the Maritime provinces. It is part of the Appalachian Range which extends from the eastern US, through NB and into Québec. The headwaters of the Tobique and Nepisiguit rivers, part of a traditional canoe route, are also found within the park.
The mountains, formed from 400-million-year-old volcanic rock, were covered by glaciers over 2.5 million years ago. The glaciers retreated about 10 000 years ago. A few rare plant species such as dwarf birch and Bigelow's sedge are found that predate the glaciers.
Four forest types cover the park: sugar maple-beech-yellow birch, fir-white birch-spruce-red maple, black spruce and red pine. Half the forest is relatively undisturbed; the remaining portion has regenerated after 2 forest fires in the early 1900s.
Over 150 species of birds have been sighted in the park, including bald eagles and the unique subspecies of gray-cheeked thrush. The park also supports wildlife such as deer, moose, beaver, otter, black bear, red fox, bobcat, lynx, fisher and marten.
Archaeologists have discovered 2500-year-old artifacts from a campsite used by nomadic hunters. In the 16th century explorers, missionaries and fur traders travelled the area, then inhabited by Maliseet. The mid-1800s saw logging increase, and naturalists and geologists surveyed the region. The lumber industry, prospectors, outfitters and wealthy sportsmen followed the early visitors. Although a proposal for a park in the Mount Carleton area was made in 1833, it was not until 1970 that the park was proclaimed.
The retired fire tower located atop Mount Carleton provides an excellent view of the park. With 60 km of hiking trails, the park offers numerous opportunities for campers, naturalists, canoeists, cross-country skiers and photographers to experience wilderness.