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"Stretching across 60 kilometres of the North Shore, Prince Edward Island National Park  
features seven supervised beaches the 19 kilometre Gulf Shore Way seaside trail,
the towering dunes of Greenwich, as well as cultural treasures such as the
Green Gables House and Dalvay-by-the-Sea National Historic Site."
~ Tourism PEI website
One of the reasons we wanted to spend a week on PEI was the opportunity to cycle and hike on some of the many multi-use trails that highlight the scenic wonders of this island.

The weather was great today so we started in PEI National Park with the eastern part of the Gulf Shore Way seaside trail just a few miles north of our campground. This paved hiking-biking path runs along the coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, part of the Atlantic Ocean.

The national park protects an area of sand dunes, barrier islands, beaches, sand spits, and wetlands in three distinct units on the north shore of PEI -- Cavendish, Brackley-Dalvay, and Greenwich.

This link to the park website shows the location of the three units. From that page you can pull up the trail maps in each section of the park.

The Gulf Shore Way (for cycling and hiking) and the Gulf Shore Parkway (for vehicles) follow the coastline closely in the Cavendish and Brackley-Dalvay unit but do not connect between them. The Greenwich unit, which we did not visit this week, has other types of hiking and cycling trails.

All three park units have beautiful sandy beaches, sand dunes, and coastal plants.

This morning we drove to the park unit that is closest (about six miles) to our campground, Brackley Beach. We found a parking spot half a mile inside the entrance, near the western end of the bike path. 

Visitor center and rest rooms near Brackley Beach; the 2-way bike path is next to the roadway.

Entrance to Brackley Beach, one of several supervised beaches in this unit of the park

We rode out and back between Brackley Beach and the Stanhope entrance near Dalvay at the eastern end of the trail in this unit of the park. We rode a total of 18 miles past gorgeous scenery, a lighthouse, and Dalvay-by-the-Sea National Historic Site, which is used now as a seasonal resort and restaurant:

Bike path along Dalvay Lake

Above and below:  view of Dalvay-by-the-Sea from across Dalvay Lake;
 visitors can see the ocean from the resort but it's more "by the lake" than "by the sea!"


We rode our bikes back to the unique Queen Anne Revival-style building but didn't go inside.

Dalvay Beach is across the road from the resort:



Gulf Shore Way is popular for cycling with both residents and visitors to the island.

We chose to ride it first because it's one of the few bike paths on the island that lies this close to its coastlines.

The bike path also lies right next to the parkway but traffic was light, the speed limit is low, and we were so mesmerized by the scenery that we hardly noticed any vehicles. It also helped that we rode this section in the middle of the week. I imagine the road and bike path are busier on weekends.

Sometimes the bike path was on the inland side of the road, as below, and sometimes between the road and shore.

As you can see from these photos, we had views of the Gulf part of the time from the path.

Other times the high sand dunes blocked all or most of our views of the water but they were interesting in and of themselves:

One thing that surprised -- and delighted -- me was all the water on the inland side of the bike path, including Long Pond, Dalvay Lake, Conehead Bay, and several small bodies of water and wetlands:

Lots of colors in this wetland between the coast and the inland portion of Conehead Bay in the distance

Long Lake has a hiking trail to this wooden bridge

Conehead Harbor at the head of Conehead Bay; a bridge crosses the narrow outlet.

This cute little lighthouse stands guard over the entrance to Conehead Bay:




Two people relax on the beach between the lighthouse and the bay inlet/outlet.

We rode into all the parking areas with beach access so we could get closer to the water and the beautiful sand dunes.

An overlook near Stanhope has restrooms and a nice, shady pavilion with benches and several interpretive panels re: early Native inhabitants, Scottish settlers, the natural coastal and wetland environment, farming and fishing industries, even rum-running in the era of Prohibition!

There is limited access to the national park's six beaches because of the fragile dunes.

Interpretive signs in several locations implore visitors not to make new trails over the dunes. This boardwalk was built next to an old path over a dune to protect it:

The next two photos show another approved beach access and fencing to protect the dunes:

Signs warn that this is an unsupervised beach and say what is prohibited (pets, booze, fires, camping).

At one beach access point I sat on a bench on the cliff overlooking the ocean to eat a Clif bar.

Jim caught back up to me and also stopped for a few minutes. He took off his shoes and socks and went down into the water:

It wasn't real warm but because of the shallow "shelf" here, PEI claims that the water in its beaches is the warmest of any north of the Carolinas.

You can see all this beautiful scenery and enjoy the beaches and dunes from your vehicle, bicycle, on foot, or in the multi-person "Coastal Cruisers" that visitors can rent:

They aren't motorized; ya gotta pedal!

We really liked riding this trail on our own bicycles because of the gorgeous scenery and great workout we got. The weather was perfect and there was minimal traffic. Although we weren't always riding together, we both rode a total of about 18 miles (9 out, 9 back).

We also rode Gulf Shore Way in the Cavendish unit of the park. I'll feature photos from that segment in another entry, also dated the day we rode it.

Next entryscenes from Charlottetown during Founder's Week, the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil