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.

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”

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”

A for Adventure: sitting down with Chris Surette

By Brad Donaldson

When asked about A for Adventure’s beginnings, Chris Surette can’t help but get excited. “I still get the chills when I think about it,” says Surette when reflecting on how the multi-faceted marketing brand started.

Fittingly, the adventure started here in Nova Scotia, when, in the summer of 2013, Jan LaPierre (another member of A for Adventure) created “Paddle to Sable”, a paddling venture that would travel from Canso, Nova Scotia to Sable Island—an island 200 kilometres off the coast Continue reading “A for Adventure: sitting down with Chris Surette”

Hike NS Presents Awards at Tatamagouche Summit

Hike Nova Scotia has awarded a Pictou County trail builder and a Colchester County trail group with its highest awards. At its annual Hiking Summit held in Tatamagouche on the weekend, Hike NS presented Dr. Gordon Young and the Cobequid Eco-Trails Society with Summit Awards.

“The Summit Award is presented to an organization or individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to the growth and development of hiking in Nova Scotia,” explains Deb Ryan, Hike NS’s Past President. Continue reading “Hike NS Presents Awards at Tatamagouche Summit”

Hike NS Gets a New Look

Hike NS now has a new look, including a new logo, website and general look and feel.

We’ve got Bits Creative to thank for our new look. Bits.co chose Hike NS as the winner of its Brand Spring Clean Contest in 2016. Check out the Bits.co blog where Bits.co staff explain how they came up with our new look. We’re also thankful to Rivendell Software for revamping our website.

Our new look comes just in time for our ten-year anniversary celebrations in 2017. Hike NS has come a long way, thanks to our dedicated volunteer board members over the years, to our many partners and to our many members.

We’ll celebrate further at our Hiking Summit, taking place in Tatamagouche from April 28th to 30th. Registration closes on April 24th, so if you haven’t registered  yet, please do so here; you wouldn’t want to miss out on the birthday cake or the sessions, hikes, networking and hiking stories!