The network of trails and footpaths on Grand Manan, for the most part, follow the coastline around the whole island. The more or less continuous pathway is only occasionally interrupted by commercial demands for sea access, and very occasionally at the request of some private property owners.
There are a number, however, which take an over land route in various locations: in the north west in the Eel Lake area; and also branching off the coastal trail in the Indian Beach and Dark Harbour areas. Other trails cross the island to the Little Dark Harbour and the Bradford Cove areas in the south of the island.
Almost all trails and foot paths run through private property and so care must be taken to use them with respect, and given their heritage classification, respect for the environment, flora and fauna as well.
A booklet, Heritage Trails and Footpaths on Grand Manan, (available in various locations on the island and by mail) provides a complete description of all the trails, as well as the most detailed and accurate maps you can obtain for Grand Manan.
It is an essential resource for visitors to the island, detailing not only the various routes, but also many of the natural and heritage features hikers will encounter.
SKILL LEVEL REQUIRED
The Pettes Cove trail, the trails through Castalia Provincial Park, and the Red Point-Anchorage board walk & trail all follow relatively flat coastal areas and are easy for all to use. The boardwalk portion of the Anchorage trails was designed with wheel chair access in mind.
The trails along the northern shore from Fish Head to the Whistle are somewhat to moderately difficult, but are well marked and maintained.
The trail in the southwest (Pats Head to Southern Head) is more challenging again - less trodden and maintained, as well as crisscrossed with streams/small boggy areas with limited permanent bridging in place.
Ross Island, accessible at low tide, has a series of moderately difficult trails along its coastline - unique and beautiful - as well as an access road which runs roughly through the middle of the island. Now unpopulated, it was the site of the area's first habitation and has the remnants of an abandoned lighthouse and settlement areas, as well as the feeling of a wild life preserve.
Whitehead Island, accessible by a free ferry, is circumvented by a coastal trail system - moderately difficult to experienced. Trails along Grand Manan's western shore are definitely for the experienced hiker.
HIKING & GUIDE SERVICES
The island has one guide service and an informal hiking group which communicates on Facebook.
Arrangements can often be made with those offering cottage and other rental accommodations, and you will find everyone on the island is extraordinarily helpful.
Most trails are aimed at hikers - although there is a considerable network of ATV trails especially in the inland area, which the islanders themselves use. In many cases, where the ATV trail ends, a footpath trail begins.
Mountain bikers may want to contact Adventure High on the island to get more detailed advice and the best trails for them to use. They also rent & repair bikes. Also, there is a new open Facebook Group for Mountain Biking on the island.
And most unique for all Grand Manan Trails: a true wilderness experience with little contact with other hikers.