International Appalachian Trail | Canada & USA | 2011

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Photo from www.gorp.com

Distance : 743 miles (1196 km) approx.

Avg.Time:  45 – 50 days

Start : Cap Gaspe, Quebec, Canada

Finish : Mt.Katahdin, Baxter State Park, Maine, USA

Maps / Information :

  • In October, 2011, I hiked from Cap Gaspe, Quebec, via New Brunswick to the southern terminus of the IAT at Mt. Katahdin in Maine.
  • As of 2015, the IAT in its entirety goes from the aforementioned Kathadin up to Belle Isle in Newfoundland & Labrador. At the time of writing much of the section north of Quebec is still under construction and the route as it currently exists is largely on roads.
  • Topographic maps for the Quebec section can be ordered direct from the IAT-Quebec website. As can the IAT Companion Guide, which contains useful logistical information pertaining to resupply, town accommodation and mileage data.
  • Click here for a trail guide and maps for the southernmost stretch through Maine,

Below is a slideshow of highlights from my October, 2011 hike of the IAT:

 

Route / Conditions:

  • Overall I had mixed feelings in regards to the IAT.
  • I very much enjoyed the Quebec section on the Gaspe peninsula; good trails, gorgeous coastal scenery, a kaleidoscope of Fall colours, abundant wildlife (loads of moose, bears and marine birds) and picturesque seaside towns.
  • New Brunswick was not so great. The “trail” was almost exclusively on old railroad beds and paved roads. Unlike the Quebec section of the IAT which is well maintained, has regular refuges/campsites and receives funding from the provincial government, the stretch through New Brunswick is run solely by a volunteer organization. According to the IAT Companion Guide, the NB government withdrew all support for the trail in 2002. The highlight of New Brunswick was the probably the short 12 km loop in Mt.Carleton State Park.
  • Northern Maine was an improvement on NB, but for the most part the scenery was ordinary until I reached Baxter State Park. There was a memorable stretch called the “Boundary Trail” soon after crossing the border from Canada. In reality it was more of a swamp than a trail. Should have packed some flippers. 😉

Notes:

  • ECT: The IAT is part of what is called the Eastern Continental Trail, a hike which goes from Key West in Florida to Belle Isle in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The fact that this is called a “trail” shouldn’t be taken too literally.

There is so much road walking (literally hundreds of miles) in Alabama, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland/Labrador, that in my opinion, you would be better off riding a bicycle on the road sections.

Healthier for the mind, healthier for the body.

  • Closure: The lowlight of my IAT hike was having to detour around the Matane Wildlife Reserve and the adjoining western section of Gaspesie National Park. In 2011, the entire Matane Reserve was closed in early September for the exclusive use of hunters. From what I was told, the authorities didn’t even inform the IAT committee until a week before the decision was put into effect. Personally, I had no idea until I reached Gaspesie National Park. I was still working under the assumption that the information I had received from the IAT (Quebec office) a couple of months previous was still valid. From what I could ascertain, the combination of new management and cashed-up hunters, meant that late-season hikers were obliged detour around what is reputedly one of the most beautiful sections of the entire IAT. A real shame, as September/October with its kaliedoscope of autumnal colours, is the premier time of year for hiking in the region.

 


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