Cavendish, Prince Edward Island National Park

Cavendish’s National Park ran along the northern side of Prince Edward Island facing the Gulf of St Lawrence. It was a small national park. Its longest trail ran from Cavendish Beach to North Rustico, a little over twelve kilometres one way. What made this site busier than any I had visited on the island was the sandy beach that faded into the distance, especially on the misty morning I visited.

Lake of Shining Waters, Dunelands Trail

Just behind Cavendish Beach was Dunelands Trail that ran in both directions parallel to the beach. The eastern pathway cut across Lake of Shining Waters. The pond had once been open to the sea but shifting sand dunes had covered the bay entrance. From rain and streams flowing into the pond the salt water gradually changed to fresh water. The pond was home to beaver and muskrat as well as waterfowl and migrating birds. It was no wonder that bird calls proliferated this section of the trail.

At one end of the trail were red sandstone cliffs. Two hundred and fifty million years ago the cliffs had been part of the Appalachian Mountains but over time they had worn down by wind, weather, and the pressure of glaciers. Today, the north shore of the island erodes at about one metre annually turning the sandstone into sand. This made it a fragile environment and despite signs and railings people still ignored the warnings and climbed beyond the designated areas.

Heading west past my starting point this section had once been farmed by Scottish farmers back in the 1700s. There were warning signs about poison ivy. Touching any part of the plant caused blisters, swelling, and severe itching even hours later. I took a photo of the plant to make sure I avoided it along the path and soon reached Clarkes Pond. In contrast to the pond’s peaceful setting, a couple of years earlier a tropical storm raged at over ninety-eight kilometres an hour and devastated the area behind the pond, toppling about eighty percent of the spruce trees.

Further a-field was the Homestead Trail that made an inland circuit. Instead, I walked down to the beach away from the trail where there was only a handful of people. After some time, I turned back and realized I couldn’t see the three other people on the beach because of the mist. Without them, I feared I couldn’t relocate the trail back to my parked car. I’d been too engrossed in the multitude of shells scattered over the beach and the jellyfish that were floating close to the shoreline. I walked back in trepidation until figures began to re-emerge from the mist.

I returned the next morning to hike the shorter of the two Homestead Trails, a 6.3 kilometre hike with only shade at the beginning and end of the trail. There were glimpses of New London Bay and below a bridge walkway salt water flowed in and out of the marsh and pond. This was another relatively flat trail with poison ivy warnings, but it was worth seeing a different part of Cavendish Park.

2 thoughts on “Cavendish, Prince Edward Island National Park”

  1. This looks like a lovely area and worth a few hikes. Nature is powerful that way, eroding the red sandstone cliffs bit by bit. Always wise to stick on the trail at every moment. Hope you are doing well 🙂

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