This hike will lead you to a cave system called Frenchmen’s Cave located behind the gypsum cliffs you see from highway 101 in St Croix, NS.
As of April 2011, there is an outbreak of white nose syndrome in bats in the Maritimes. Since this syndrome can wipe out whole bat population and this cave is a known bat hibernaculum, I have deleted all the coordinates that lead to this cave. I hope you all understand.
There are two ways to get to the caves. The one I describe below is suitable for all seasons especially from late autumn to spring when you might not be able to ford Weir brook which flows next to the steep gypsum cliffs.
From your car, traverse the small grassy field and carefully climb the gypsum cliff. For the next 450m or so, follow the top of the gypsum cliff. This is a really nice hike on its own since you have an elevated view of Weir Brook from this vantage point. You will notice a faint path from time to time as this spot is somewhat well known locally. Walking along this path is quite easy and you will notice a lot of sinkholes in the forest. This is what has caused the creation of the cave system that you will explore a little later on. At the 450m point, you should be able to see some orange flagging tape leading you deeper into the forest, follow those or basically head in a NNE heading for another 100m.
At this point, you will probably stand atop the deep and very steep sinkhole where the cave system is located. It’s kind of rectangular in shape and makes your wonder if people have carved out the sides of the sinkhole. Make your way around the steep sinkhole to an area that is suitable to walk down to the bottom of the sinkhole. You will notice a little stream that has carved the cave system. It will come out of a cave on your left and make its way into another cave in front of you. I did not explore the cave on the left since its entrance is partially blocked and you would need to squeeze your way in. The other cave entrance can be found at the top of the small debris mound in front of you. The entrance is quite large and you can make your way inside without ducking too much for a good 200ft. This is a beautiful solution cave and well worth the trip.
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Posted By: mbrinen
- Sun Sep 16 11:47:45 EDT 2012
UpsideIt was very cool! The temperature change as you climb down into the sink hole is fantastic (especially on a hot day). We went in both caves, as far as you could go. In the large cave there is a neat cavern that we sat in for a bit with the flashlights out to enjoy the cool dark cave.
The smaller cave is very cool too. If you don't like tight spaces, I wouldn't recommend going through, but you can go in one side and out the other. We did this, it was fun. I was wishing I had a headlamp on, I needed two hands free to pull myself through.
DownsideWe parked in the grassy field, and crossed the river, we didn't mind getting wet, but some people might. After a good rain you could actually swim in a couple spots too I think, or at least float down with a tube...we went in mid-September and the water felt nice, although we didn't swim.
CommentThe directions say, walk along the ridge of the cliff for 450 meters...this was not the case for us. I guess it depends where you climb the cliff. We climbed up and could walk the 100m into the woods and find the sinkhole. We did walk along the cliff too, it was a nice short hike. If you are looking for the trail marker, and realize although there are sinkholes, but there isn't much gypsum, you probably went too far.