Snowshoeing Grows with Hike Series

Now that winter is upon us, rather than hibernate indoors, Hike NS says to get out and try snowshoeing. You’ll be in good company, since everyone seems to be trying it. Hike Nova Scotia and its partners across the province are offering the 2018 Winter Guided Snowshoe Hike Series from January to March.

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“Snowshoeing is probably one of the fastest-growing outdoor activities in our province,” says Janet Barlow, Hike NS Executive Director. “We’ve had the highest number of events registered across the province this season, even surpassing our fall hike series. Last year, people came out in droves.”

Event Details

Date: January 13 to March 17, 2018

Location: The full schedule with registration details and directions is found at www.hikenovascotia.ca. Hikes are led by local folks and participants qualify to win trail prizes. Hikes are free or low-cost and pre-registration is required​ unless otherwise indicated. Over 65 hikes are listed by date and region. Hikes include the following regions:

  • Cape Breton (Cape Breton Island)
  • Highland (Guysborough County, Antigonish County, Pictou County)
  • Fundy (Municipality of East Hants, Cumberland County, Colchester County)
  • Annapolis Valley (Municipalities of Hants West and Clare, Counties of Digby, Annapolis and Kings)
  • South Shore (Counties of Yarmouth, Shelburne, Queens, Lunenburg and District of Argyle)
  • Halifax (Halifax Regional Municipality)

Fast Facts

  • Hike NS and 38 host organizations partnered up to offer the guided snowshoeing series in January, February and March.
  • Over 65 snowshoe hikes are scheduled province-wide.
  • Hikes are led by local folks and participants qualify to win trail prizes. Hikes are free or low-cost and pre-registration is required​ unless otherwise indicated.
  • Hike NS thanks its local partners for organizing the hikes on the ground as well as Goose Lane Editions and the NS Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage for their support.
  • Wondering where to find snowshoes? Not to worry, since you can easily find snowshoes to borrow, rent or buy using Hike NS’s online guide, with 75 listings. A growing number of municipalities, businesses and organizations are buying sets of snowshoes to lend or rent. There are at least 55 venues listed where you can borrow them for free.
  • Hike NS encourages and promotes a growing hiking culture throughout the province, striving to be the voice for those who hike, walk and snowshoe.

Photos

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Contact

Janet Barlow, Hike Nova Scotia

(902) 932-6902

Email

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Snowshoeing Nova Scotia: Part 1

by Brad Donaldson

This winter we’ll be highlighting some of the province’s best trails for snowshoeing. In part one, we begin in central Nova Scotia, listing some of our favourites in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM).

1. Shubie Park: Nestled between Lake Micmac and Lake Charles, Shubie Park offers city dwellers a chance to get outside without having to travel far. Commonly known for kayaking and canoeing, the park is also a place for walking, camping, and snowshoeing. Within the 40-acre urban park are three main trails that loop around lakes, over canals, and under towering trees making for a full day of adventure.

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2. Oakfield Provincial Park: One of the many provincial parks found in the HRM, Oakfield is on the shores of Grand Lake, just off Highway 2 (near Fall River). As a day-use park, the area is filled with intertwining trails that funnel down to the lake through a beautiful hardwood forest.

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3. Salt Marsh Trail: Moving through the wetlands of Eastern Passage, Cole Harbour, and Lawrencetown is the Salt Marsh Trail. The 6.5 kilometre trail (one way) is long, flat, and gravelled, making it perfect for snowshoeing. Part of the Trans Canada Trail, and formed from the old Musquodoboit Railway, the trail is popular place for wildlife sightingso keep your eyes peeled!

4. Point Pleasant Park: Found at the southern tip of the Halifax Peninsula, Point Pleasant is a perfect escape for those who might find themselves gridlocked during the cold winter months. Throughout the wooded area are endless, winding routes that wrap around the Atlantic shoreline, offering different levels of elevation and distance. Created in 1866, the park boasts a number of historical monuments commemorating military and navy efforts to see while braving the cold.

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5. Uniacke Estate Museum Park: Once a summer oasis for the family of Richard John Uniacke (a 19th-century Attorney-General), the area has recently been converted for public use. Within the grounds are eight trails that explore the heritage site, travelling  over rivers and along lakes. The trails vary in length and difficulty, and are available for use year round (although the museum and toilet facilities operate on a seasonal bases).

*Note: While snowshoeing, please be respectful and mindful of other trail users. You may notice trails that are not multi-purposed, and specifically groomed for cross country skiing. In this instance, we ask you to not damage the hard work that goes into grooming and enjoy responsibly.

Wilderness Area Awaits Next Step

by Brad Donaldson (photos courtesy of Kelci Wood)

 

It’s been ten years since the city of Halifax announced the designation of the Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area as protected public land, harbouring the area from independent developers. Since then, 3242 acres (roughly two-thirds the size of the Halifax peninsula) have been protected, but 1308 acres still remain privately owned.

Prior to this decade-old headline, the Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes region has gone through a lengthy, and sometimes strenuous, series of development-versus-protection discussions.

For example, Annapolis Group—who owns 965 of those 1308 privately owned acres—has owned land in the area since 1956 and been an active voice on the developmental side of the coin.

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But where does it all stand now?

To catch up on the current situation, I spoke with Chris Miller, a National Conservation Biologist with Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS).

“Birch Cove Lakes was my playground [growing up],” says Miller, who grew up in a nearby neighbourhood. And even from a young age, he recalls people “fighting for a new quarry that was proposed in the Blue Mountain area.”

Continuing the theme of unrest, when Miller returned home from grad school in the early 2000s, there was a proposal to run a highway through the area, which is when Miller began campaigning to try and protect it.

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Reflectively, Miller says that the challenge has shifted since his involvement began. In the beginning, the focus was on communicating the area’s natural importance, but now with more money and proposals rooting down to overrun the area, it’s about communicating those messages to the government where the tough the decisions are made.

While talking about his childhood paradise, Miller emphasizes the importance of getting the whole picture when trying to understand the complex and historic situation, and not simply choose one blip in the timeline and draw conclusions.

It’s more intricate than that. Nothing up until now is because of one person or one organization, especially the advocacy and protection of the area.

Miller stresses this point—the collective and collaborative efforts—as he shares a favourite advocacy memory from the summer of 2016, when 1420 Haligonians wrote letters to the city to fight urban development of the area.

Shortly after, on September 6th, 2016, fifteen of sixteen city councillors voted in favour of blocking the development, undoubtedly feeling what Miller calls “the weight” of the public’s opinion.

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Near the end of our talk, Miller rolls out maps of the Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area that topple off the edges of the table. There are markings for trails with deliberate challenges and difficulties to suit all users. Doing so would create even more inclusivity for visitors, with front country and back country options

The builders and planners are ready for the green light from the city following the 2016 Facilitator’s Report by Heather Robertson. Mentioned in the report was Regional Council approving “Terms of Reference for Regional Park boundaries negotiations,” an idea that has been around since the 1970s.

Yet, more than a year after the report was published, we’re still waiting for the last few hundred acres to be acquired—the land where, when finally acquired, the long-awaited regional park would be added.

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There are options to acquire these last acres: outright land purchase is one, but an expensive one. Trading the land for another area that developers would be interested in, one better suited for urban development, is yet another option. As Miller says, “It’s not just about stopping things; it’s about building things, and finding the solutions to make that happen.

“It’s important now [to the city], but it’s going to become even more important in the future. And I think what’s important is that everybody has the ability to go there, not just the people that can afford to buy a house there. That’s the fight. The area’s as much about people as it is about nature. They’re not two separate things. They go together.”

Even through unavoidable frustration, Miller is still optimistic. He’s witnessed the people of Nova Scotia, and their desire to make a difference, while determinedly looking for opportunities to work with the city instead of against them.

Unsurprisingly, he still gets out to enjoy the lakes and trails as much he can, still in awe that it exists in the first place.

“It really shouldn’t even be there…it’s phenomenal.”

And hopefully this phenomenon can one day become fully protected.

Share the Hiking Love on Giving Tuesday: Nov. 28

Why do you love hiking? Is it the fresh air, the calm feeling of green or the heart-pumping rush of reaching a summit for a great view? Share the Hiking Love: On @GivingTuesdayCa (@NSGives) – November 28 – share a photo of you on an NS trail on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and then donate to Hike NS! Don’t forget to tag Hike NS when you post: #HikeNS @HikeNS @hikenovascotia. Check out our donation page

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Hiking for the Holidays Online Auction

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Support the Hike NS Hiking for the Holidays Online Auction. Shop once and give twice: once to your loved ones and once to Hike NS. Do your holiday shopping online with us and spend more time hiking, less time shopping. From big gifts to stocking stuffers, we’ve got presents that hikers will love. Special thanks to The Trail Shop for donating most of the items in the auction. Bidding opens Nov. 18 and ends on Dec. 3. View items here

Franey in the Fall

by Brad Donaldson

 

I thought it might be too late, that when I finally got up to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park to see the leaves in all their seasonal glory there’d be none left. But luckily I was terribly, terribly wrong.

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On Saturday, October 21st, I woke up early and drove towards Franey Mountain. When I arrived at the trail head, the gravel parking lot was empty. The morning was cold and crisp, with a chance of showers. I dressed in layers and started in on the trail. Continue reading “Franey in the Fall”

The McLachlan Bothy: A Community Build

By Brad Donaldson

As some readers may know, last year I followed the revealing of the Doris and Jack McLachlan Bothy.

The bothy stands on Six Mile Brook Trail—a trail that is part of the Cape to Cape trail system—and was constructed by community volunteers and a number of high school students in the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board.

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Many of those students came from the North Nova Education Centre, in New Glasgow, and were led by a name mentioned in last year’s piece: Andrew Parsons.

He was and still is a driving force behind the creation, maintenance, and constant improvement of this unique overnight shelter.

So, last week I attended one of these student outings to see the bothy for myself.

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As a life-long mountain biker, Parsons enjoys bringing students out of a traditional school setting and into the natural world to explore different ways of learning. Along the trail, his age doesn’t show. He trucks through the babbling river in rubber boots and excitedly points out strands of trees, asking students—between grades ten to twelve—if they remember the names.

Working with the school’s Career Exploration Program (CEP)—an alternative learning program—Parsons teaches Building Systems, which focuses on the hands-on side of things: construction, electrical, landscape, etc.

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In the past, and under Parsons’ supervision, students built a number of timber frame trail kiosks for the area. So when a friend mentioned the first tentative idea of an overnight shelter in the same area, Parsons saw students as a perfect fit to help with the project.

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In Parsons’ eyes, students would not only learn tangible skills constructing the shelter, but also have the chance to “contribute back to the community [in a way] that would have a long-lasting impact.”

“I think that problem solving, and approaching community projects, is beneficial not only to the community but to individuals because it gives them a sense of place and belonging, and ownership,” Parson adds. “But also, in their own future, they can see a role for how they might envision being connected in the greater community.”

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In high school, teenagers are often trying to find their thing and fit in. But projects such as the Doris and Jack McLachlan Bothy have given students a chance to try something new, something in an area they might not normally travel to.

In the midst of all the work happening around the bothy that day, Parsons mentions a story of a student who, after working on the bothy, brought their family out to the area for a hike— something the family had never done before—to show off the accomplishment.

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Parsons hopes that his students “choose to do [similar ventures] in their future so we see more people in wilderness, taking advantage of these wild places we have on our doorstep.”

Because, he says, the benefits are developing right before his eyes.

 

 

Fall Hikes, Events & Courses

Fall is a busy time and this season Hike NS has over 60 hikes, events and courses available. Check them out!

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Hike NS Fall Guided Hike Series 2017

Hike Nova Scotia and 28 host organizations across the province have partnered up to offer the 2017 Fall Guided Hike Series from September to November. There are 50 hikes led by local folks and participants qualify to win “trail prizes.” Hikes are free and Continue reading “Fall Hikes, Events & Courses”

BioBlitz to re-take Halifax

By Brad Donaldson

For the first time since 2009, Halifax will be home to a Bioblitz.

Between September 11th and 17th, the Ecology Action Centre (EAC) will be hosting the community-based event that encourages the public to get outside and collectively identify the biodiversity living within the Halifax region.

This year’s blitz will take place at the Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Wilderness Area as well as Point Pleasant Park—two very different areas—which will allow Continue reading “BioBlitz to re-take Halifax”