22. Lincoln Trail
Route 102 intersects with the NB Trail near the Agricultural Research Station east of Fredericton
Trains pushed their way into town on this rail bed less than 20 years ago. Since that time the Trans-Canada Trail network has incorporated this section of ‘track’ into its network of municipal trails. Countless communities in New Brunswick now benefit from this infrastructure that is contributing to improving the health of citizens who utilize this trail for all types of recreational activities. The trail downriver from the picnic area takes you into an early succession stage suburban setting, an odd reference for New Brunswick where so much of our surroundings are green, even in the city proper! You’ll walk along riverside bottomland scrub and floodplain forest down below the bank, and through remnant clumps of mature upland hardwood forest that are sprinkled with amazing flower gardens of some of the grandest river homes in Fredericton. This semi-developed shoreline habitat is complimented by a large block of mature hardwoods located on Agriculture Canada’s Experimental Farm across the road. Stay sharp because you will undoubtedly encounter the ‘Little Brown Things’, forest dwellers like the American Redstart, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, and Song Sparrows. Those amazing flower gardens are a great place to spot a Ruby-throated Hummingbird zipping about from flower to feeder.
You might be really perplexed when you flush a hen Common Goldeneye from one of the large maples that surround you. These birds are common nesters along the lower river valley, and if there happens to be a tree cavity with an opening larger than 10 centimeters in width, then a Common Goldeneye might very well have taken up residence there. Bald Eagles and Ospreys are frequently seen perched in these large maples, waiting patiently for their superior eyesight to notice a ripple, large enough to entice them to fly over to the mouth of Carmen Creek, on the other side of the river. Here they often find a gaspereau that has experienced some difficulty in entering the marsh, hanging just a little too close to the surface, confused as to why the traditional entrance to his spawning ground now has a stick wall blocking his progress.
The trail now leads you to a monument identifying the towering nest site of an Osprey. It has been about 25 years now that the population of these birds has been steadily increasing in the river valley. The ban on the use of DDT and other harmful pesticides in the mid-1970’s heralded the return of this majestic fish eater and other raptors like the Bald Eagle. Conservation efforts that focused on the installation of nesting towers for the Osprey have also helped to usher in its return to prominence in the river valley.
As the trail approaches the Lincoln Road a large chunk of middle-aged hardwood forest provides ideal habitat for Baltimore Orioles, Wilson’s Warblers, Yellow-rumped warblers and Grey Catbirds. If you’ve made it to the point where the trail crosses the Lincoln Road you have a two kilometer walk to get back to your starting point. Somewhere along the way you will discover where the verb ‘swat’ was coined!! If you are one of those types who needs to read everything about a place before visiting it, and by now have heard about the mosquitoes, then you can just park at the picnic table and cross the Lincoln Road from the starting point and head up the lane that takes you onto the Experimental Farm grounds. There is a lovely picnic area here that offers a splendid view of the river and Fredericton’s lower cityscape.