Surprising Finds in the Maritimes: Black Beach, NB

Have you ever stumbled upon something in or around your community that you never knew was there and didn’t expect to find?

I never expected to find a black sand beach in the Maritimes.  I’ve never seen a black sand beach, except in photos.  So, a short time ago when I saw a picture posted on Instagram of Black Beach in Lorneville, just a few kilometers from my home, I knew I had to check it out for myself.

Black sand beaches are rare in this part of the world.  They are most commonly found in areas of volcanic activity, such as Iceland, Hawaii and the South Pacific.

Black Beach is located in the community of Lorneville, NB, about 19 km from Saint John. The colour of the sand is derived from graphite deposits.  The beach is located along the Musquash Estuary, one of the most biologically productive areas in Atlantic Canada. Over 4,000 acres of the estuary is protected by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).

Known for its biodiversity, the Musquash Estuary is home to numerous species of birds, fish and terrestrial wildlife.  It is the last fully functioning estuary in the Bay of Fundy.

Two hiking trails are located in the area, maintained by the NCC: Black Beach trail and Five Fathom Hole trail.  Joel and I hiked the 4.2 km loop of Black Beach trail a couple Saturday’s ago.  It’s a lovely hike through the forest with great views of the estuary.  We didn’t get to see a lot of wildlife, but it was quite windy when we were there, so we’d like to come back in the summer when the weather improves and we have more time to spend nature-watching.  I love the thick moss carpet that lines much of the trail. It provides a splash of colour, even in this brown period between winter and spring.

It was cold on the beach so we weren’t able to stay long but this area is so unique and special, for its black sand as well as its ecological importance.  I encourage you to explore the area and discover the beauty you might not have even known was there. Just make sure to leave the area just as you left it.

Here are some photos of our hike:

Black Beach in Lorneville, NB.
Looking across Musquash Harbour on a grey day.
Checking out Black Beach from the top of the hill.
Much of the bottom side of the trail loop has views of the Musquash Estuary, protected by the National Conservancy of Canada.

Tree trunks and moss for miles.  This is my kind of place.

At the end of the trail loop is a great lookout over the estuary.

Getting a closer look at that surprising black sand.
Mine are the first footprints of the day at Black Beach.

If you’d like more information about Black Beach and/or the Musquash Estuary, please visit

Do you know of a surprising find in the Maritimes?  I’d love to hear about it?


25 thoughts on “Surprising Finds in the Maritimes: Black Beach, NB

  1. Amanda March 28, 2017 / 8:26 am

    25 years ago when I was a younger girl my family would go there to pick dulse and perry winkles.

    • Melissa Smith March 28, 2017 / 9:11 am

      How lovely! It is a beautiful area and I love the nature trail there too!

    • Judith Galbraith April 20, 2018 / 12:17 pm

      It’s not sand. The particles of sand are round and easily brushed off your skin. The particles making up Black Beach are flat and stick to your skin, not easily brushed off.

  2. Peg Mac DOnald March 28, 2017 / 8:54 am

    Live about 60 miles away and never knew about this.Would certainly love to explore it.

    • Melissa Smith March 28, 2017 / 9:12 am

      I know, I was very surprised to find a black beach in NB! There is a lovely nature trail in the area too!

  3. carrie Tracey March 28, 2017 / 10:33 am

    How very nice of you to take the pictures and post it for other people to see it. Never knew it was there. thank you for sharing this amazing place!

    • Melissa Smith March 28, 2017 / 11:19 am

      Thanks for reading!

  4. Margot Nickerson March 28, 2017 / 10:51 pm

    My father took us to Black Beach very often for a family swim day. Neat to see black sand, but as a child never really appreciated the full scientific meaning. We are very fortunate to live in a such a rich area of the world.

    • Melissa Smith March 29, 2017 / 6:52 am

      We certainly are. Thanks for sharing!

  5. bonnie March 29, 2017 / 1:58 am

    I live in Ontario but have family down there. Thank you for this….I love how untouched it seems. People go there and party, but it is not trashed. I hope it can remain pristine….too many places are ruined by human touch. love it!!

    • Melissa Smith March 29, 2017 / 6:53 am

      I’m sure the conservation group does a lot to keep it clean but you are right, it’s pristine!

  6. Samantha Chrus March 29, 2017 / 11:14 am

    I had no idea this was there. for sure going to visit when i’m back home.
    As well please can you tell me what you meant by “It is the last fully functioning estuary in the Bay of Fundy.”?

    • Melissa Smith March 29, 2017 / 7:54 pm

      Hi, Samantha. Thanks for your question. That is something I got from the Nature Conservancy of Canada and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what that means but I know that this estuary is extremely important is terms of biodiversity. That’s why the NCC has been working so hard to protect the water and land around it. Hope this helps!

      • Courtney August 14, 2017 / 9:28 pm

        To answer your question, there are many estuaries -where a river meets the sea- in the Bay of Fundy (think of rivers or streams you see in Saint John that join the Bay). What is so special about Musquash is that it is the largest estuary on the Bay of Fundy that is essentially untouched by human development, keeping all of its natural habitat and ecological functions intact. Estuaries are extremely important ecologically because they provide breeding habitat and an abundance of food sources for a lot of coastal and aquatic wildlife.

        Lovely article by the way! I love this area, and I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed NCC’s Black Beach nature trail 🙂 it’s beautiful.

      • Melissa Smith August 14, 2017 / 9:32 pm

        Seems like a lot of people are discovering this beautiful area recently. Thanks for the information!

  7. Janet March 29, 2017 / 1:17 pm

    Alived close to this beach in the summer…water was very cold and the sand was hard to get of your body after it dried on you!

    • Melissa Smith March 29, 2017 / 7:54 pm

      Ha! I bet the water is cold, I didn’t go in as it was early spring last year when I was there!

    • Judith Galbraith April 20, 2018 / 12:19 pm

      Because it is not sand; sand is round. This is particles of graphite and flat.

  8. Stephen Sharpe March 30, 2017 / 5:26 am

    There are black sand beaches in Nova Scotia too, hidden gems for sure.

    • Melissa Smith March 30, 2017 / 6:52 am

      Cool, I’d be interested to know where those are…

  9. Betty April 2, 2017 / 11:21 am

    As an interesting contrast, there is a lot of orange in some of the rocks there.

  10. Allison July 7, 2017 / 11:19 pm

    Our family spent many summers in the 70s living at Black Beach from about May to October. My dad had a government job that kind of allowed us to be late coming back to school altho it was greatly frowned on by the school establishment. There were only two families with kids… us and the Smiths and we had an awesome time, eating periwinkles at their camp, playing on the rocks on the beach, or in the old car below the dam, exploring the many brooks, and the forest. When it was foggy you could hang out on the beach, and your mother could call and call and call … but if you were silent she could not tell where you were on the beach! LOL!

  11. Sharon Smith July 9, 2017 / 10:18 pm

    Allison, who is your family? Black Beach was always Shannon/Johnston land. I am a Smith, granddaughter of Harvey and Annie Johnston. All the cabins at the top of the hill were Johnston clan, at the bottom was Shannon with a couple Rentals.

  12. Gail Gallant July 9, 2017 / 11:47 pm

    50+ yrs ago I used to go to a camp on Black Beach with my girlfriends their mother was a Johnston. A happy memory!!!

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