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Exploring New Brunswick One Paddling Route at a Time

Keswick Island Route, Keswick River

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Mitchell's Island Route

McKinley Ferry Boat Launch


Mitchell's Island Route Gallery


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Quick Facts

Features islands
Access boat launch
Route Difficulty moderate
Water Body Type river
Current Type moderate-strong
Route Type mixed
Route Distance 8.8 km return
Portage Distance 60 metres
Estimated Time 4 hours
Elevation Change 2 metres
Scenery Rating beautiful
Cell Reception strong
Fees none


Note: Flow from the Mactaquac Dam can drastically vary the speed and difficulty of your trip. Please plan accordingly.

When you are in your boat turn right and head downriver. Make your way across the river to the back channel that goes under a long, low bridge. The bridge is used by farmers to get to the islands. The current picks up when you enter the back channel so use caution. The back channel can also be shallow in this area later in the summer.

The farm bridge to Upper Shores Island in the St. John/Wolostoq River

There are many options to explore the islands in this area. We stayed left and entered a narrow channel that goes along Mitchell's Island. This channel had no current, grassy shores and lots of hardwoods hanging over the channel. We eventually came to a farm road that was used to access the island so we turned around. We thought we could use Weaver Creek to take a shortcut across the island but it was completely dry.

Paddling along the backwater next to Mitchell's Island

We returned to the main back channel and continued down around the turn. This time we crossed over and kept to the right, looping around Upper Shores Island. We debated whether the current in the main back channel would be too strong to return the way we came and finally decided it would be difficult. Instead we chose a straight channel called The Gut to get back to the Main River. At the end of The Gut we came to a strip of land made of boulders and old cement. On a strip of land there was a road between Upper Shores Island and Lower Shores Island. We had to portage our boats across this strip of land and road to get back to the main river. If you choose this route use caution. The boulders and pieces of cement make it difficult walking.

Once back to the main river we crossed to the other shore and then turned right (upriver). We followed the shore back to the boat launch.

A Bald Eagle along the St. John/Wolostoq River

On our trip in late June we saw many bald eagles (estimated more than 50). When getting in our boats we saw salmon jumping in the river, which is what was attracting the eagles. The only downside is that the eagles were eating the salmon in the trees along the river and dropping their carcasses in the grass below. The smell of rotting fish was strong, especially near the main river. That was a worthwhile trade-off for seeing so many eagles in one place. We also saw a clutch of wood ducks and a blue heron by Mitchell's Island, and a beaver in The Gut.


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From Fredericton take route 102 (Prospect Street) west towards the Mactaquac Dam. From the Tim Hortons at the end of the Woodstock Road, drive for 8.8 kilometres. Just past Everett's U-Pick you will start to drop down over a hill into the valley that holds the fish hatchery. About half the way down the hill you will see an angled, gravel road on your right that is the only break in the guardrail. Drive down this gravel road but go slow. The road is not maintained so use caution.

At the McKinley Ferry Boat Launch on the St. John/Wolostoq River in Kingsclear

The road turns to the right to cross the old railbed trail, then back to the left before taking another right turn by the river. The boat launch is the site of an old ferry crossing and if you look across you can see the ramp on the other side (now part of someone's lawn). There are places to park in the grassy area next to river, or right at the bottom of the hill on the left before you come out of the trees.

Trail Last Hiked: June 25, 2022.

Page Last Updated: June 18, 2023.