By Brad Donaldson
For some reason we decided to hike during the warmest portion of the scorching day. Between 12:00 and 3:30 PM, the Admiral Lake Loop hooped us up, down, and around its mossy forests, sharp look-offs, and cool blue lakes that make the Musquodoboit Trailways one of the HMR’s premiere systems for hiking.
From the parking lot, located on Park Road, the gravel Rail Trail takes you 1.7 kilometres to the trailhead.
As soon as our heads ducked into the trail, on the right, we were led around large granite boulders that were bigger than a car. Inside the woods, the pathways are next to impossible to stray from—bright yellow markers stick out like a penguin in a desert. It is also worth noting the great job Musquodoboit Trailways Association does of keeping the trails maintained just enough to have the wilderness enclose the trail without obstructing travel.
One of the nicest parts of this loop is the handful of look-offs spotted throughout the trail. Each look-off is also marked with signage, and the first one—Skull Rock Spur—adds almost a kilometre onto the 5.5 kilometre trek, but is well worth it. The veering path adds one of the most entertaining meanders of the entire hike as well, toppling over round stones and rock faces. The view overlooks Bayer Lake (to the west) and a wash of green that surrounds the trail system.
Back on the main route, the up and down rhythm rolls around a few corners and look-offs, including Rolling Rock and Harbour View—the latter, to no surprise, presenting a faraway view of the Musquodobiot harbour and nearby inlets.
Afterwards, the trail begins heading north, towards Admiral Lake. The trail stretches for a couple of kilometres without offering a breezy opening, but, in the mean time, brings you to “The Cave”—an area where rocks appear to have fallen from a taller ridge and created a deft area to explore. Although the trail does wrap around the fallen rocks, there is a small opening to walk through if you’re inclined.
At this point in the hike, the heat was at its peak. You could smell the melting tree gum, and even the sweet-smelling ferns looked heated. The breezes disappeared until we started to rise again near the Admiral Lake Look-off, passing by a few barely-visible blueberry bushes. This vantage point offers a beautiful panoramic view, much of it coming from the ocean side we had seen from the first few look-offs, but also the area behind the trail, where Admiral Lake sits.
The final stretch begins down the backside of the ridge into a shallow area, around a small lake, and through damp mossy stretches, where we saw a few toads (the extent of our wildlife sighting).
On such a sunny day, the heat beat down on our shoulders and caught beneath the canopied areas of forest, making the air hot and humid for stretches of time. Despite the heat, the thickly canopied regions created soft pockets of light that popped up over the lush green patches and rooted walkways.
The trail ends with one last haul up a steep slope, where it meets the Jessie’s Diner Look-off, before sliding into its reunion with the Rail Trail. Like the start, another few kilometres are required down the gravel path back to the parking lot, giving you a chance to cool down.
For directions visit the Musquodoboit Trailways Association’s website.