This national park on the northern side of the island was established in 1937 to protect the beaches and sand dunes as well as the region’s wetlands and marshes. The twenty-seven square kilometre park faced the Gulf of St Lawrence and consisted of mostly access to its many sandy beaches. But there were some trails away from the dunes.
Once farms and oil fields covered the area around Farmlands and Bubbling Springs Trail. An Acadian forest had grown over the site with white pine, yellow birch, red spruce, sugar maple, and spruce trees. Even bears had inhabited the forest, but that was in the past. One reminder of the farming community was the Stanhope Community Cemetery dating back to 1811.
By Bubbling Springs Trail was Long Pond that was believed to have been a bay before shifting sand closed the opening. Small fish and aquatic vegetation provided feeding and nesting areas for waterfowl. White Spruce trees were a common sight. Many had fallen in a gale owing to their short root system. Finally, I reached a pond that was supposed to be Bubbling Springs and felt disappointed until I peered closely into the water. Underground water had risen to the surface through cracks in the sandstone bedrock and caused the bubbling.
On the western side of the park was a trail around Robinsons Island. The island had been a camping ground for the Mi’kmaq over one thousand five hundred years ago when they had called the island Two Narrows. By the trail a multitude of wildflowers dotted the forest floor, especially lupins. Nearer to the sea, trees slanted from the force of the winds, many had toppled over. And by the sea, red sand and red pebbles lined the tiny beaches. While the sound of birds and an occasional squirrel flitted by, there was a constant reminder that I was never far from the sea—the sound of the waves.