Snowshoeing Nova Scotia: Part Two

by Brad Donaldson

This winter we’ll be highlighting some of the province’s best trails for snowshoeing. In part two, we bring our attention to mainland Nova Scotia, dialling in on some shining gems of our province’s rural areas.

1. Rogart Mountain: The trek to the top of Rogart Mountain (344 metres) seems to have it all—scenic views, challenging terrain, babbling brooks, and even a waterfall. Beginning behind the Sugar Moon Farm Earltown, the 6.2 km trail is lined by a beautiful forest, highlighted by the many maple trees that happen to be the farm’s source for their famous maple syrup. It’s also worth noting that Sugar Moon Farm has snowshoes for rent.

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Photo by Alyssa Walsh

2. Ellenwood Lake Provincial Park: Located roughly 20 minutes outside of Yarmouth, Ellenwood is a gorgeous multi-purpose park. An established summer oasis, the group behind Friends of Ellenwood have recently turned their efforts towards creating a haven for winter sports enthusiasts. For snowshoers, there is a designated, 2-km loop to explore. But be sure you’re on the right one, as other trails are for cross-country skiing only. There are a few options for snowshoe rentals in the area.

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Photo by Christine Sharp

3. Victoria Park: Stretching over 1,000 acres, Victoria Park in Truro offers visitors one of the most unique outdoor experiences in the province. With a sprawling trail system traveling through deep, picturesque gorges, the aged and rugged green space is the ideal spot for snowshoeing. For winter adventurers, it’s a must-do. As far as snowshoe rentals go in Truro, there are plenty of choices.

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Photo by Katherine MacNeil

4. Acacia Valley Trail: This trail follows the Acacia Brook and can be enjoyed by all level of hikers and snowshoers. Only a short drive from Digby, the loop (which begins just off the Mill Road) is just two kilometres long. You will find picnic tables along the hike and a viewing deck over a small waterfall where the trail begins to loop back. For this area of the province, click here for a list of snowshoe renters.

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Photo by Jonathan Riley

5. Five Islands Provincial Park: Despite shutting down their main facilities for winter, Five Islands Provincial Park still encourages activities during the frigid months. By ploughing the main road, winter enthusiasts are able to access the park’s trail system, starting at the Economy Mountain Trail. At over 200 metres tall, summiting Economy Mountain gives visitors stunning views of the area and a chance to connect to other trails in the park. If you’re looking to rent snowshoes is this area of the province, contact the Parrsboro Recreation Department.

*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.

**Cover photo by Jonathan Riley

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Snowshoeing Nova Scotia: Part One

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, Continue reading “Wilderness Area Awaits Next Step”

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 Continue reading “Franey in the Fall”

Guided Hikes Get You on the Trail

Fall is arguably the most beautiful time to hike in Nova Scotia. Hike Nova Scotia and 14 host organizations across the province have partnered up to offer the 2016 Fall Guided Hike Series in September, October and November. There are 21 hikes led by local folks and participants qualify to win “trail prizes.” Most hikes are free unless otherwise indicated in the schedule.

Quotes:

“There are hikes in different parts of the province, of varying lengths and difficulty levels,” says Janet Barlow, Hike NS Executive Director. “So there’s really something for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a newbie.”

Fast Facts:

  • Hike Nova Scotia and 14 host organizations across the province have partnered up to offer the 2016 Fall Guided Hike series.
  • There are 21 hikes led by local folks.
  • The series runs from September 10 to November 5.
  • Most hikes are free unless otherwise indicated in the schedule.
  • Hikes take place in areas across mainland Nova Scotia. For hikes in Cape Breton, see the Hike the Highlands Festival line up at www.hikethehighlands.com.
  • The full list of events – including hike dates, times, registration details and directions – is found at www.hikenovascotia.ca. Hikes are listed by date or by region: Halifax, South Shore, Valley, Fundy.
  • Participants qualify to win “trail prizes.”
  • The hikes are meant to help get more people outside and active on our trails.
  • Hike NS thanks its partners for organizing the hikes on the ground, Goose Lane Editions for its prize donations and the NS Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage for its support.
  • Hike NS encourages and promotes hiking, walking and snowshoeing throughout Nova Scotia.
  • Membership in Hike NS means keeping up-to-date on the latest hiking news and having a say in its many projects.
  • Hike NS is supported by the Province of Nova Scotia.

Photos:

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Contact:

Janet Barlow, Hike Nova Scotia
(902) 717-4408
Email info@hikenovascotia.ca

Leave No Trace Summer Workshops

LNTWorkshops-2015-graphicLeave No Trace Canada has partnered with Hike Nova Scotia to promote Leave No Trace Principles and host a Summer Educator, who will help raise awareness about Leave No Trace Principles through delivering workshops to groups in Halifax and beyond. Workshops will be offered from mid-July to mid-August, 2015. Tailored for groups of various ages and interests, workshops will cover the seven Leave No Trace Principles that encourage low-impact use of our natural environment. A small fee or honourarium may be required depending upon workshop location and number of participants.
To learn more and book your workshop, please visit: www.hikenovascotia.ca/projects/leave-no-trace.

Leave No Trace Tips: Be Considerate of Others

As part of our regular feature on the seven Leave No Trace Principles, we’re featuring Principle #7: Be Considerate of Others.

One of the most important components of outdoor ethics is to maintain courtesy toward other visitors. It helps everyone enjoy their outdoor experience. Many people come to the outdoors to listen to nature. Excessive noise, unleashed pets and damaged surroundings take away from everyone’s experience. So, keep the noise level down while traveling and if you bring a radio or music, use headphones so you will not disturb others. Also keep in mind that the feeling of solitude, especially in open areas, is enhanced when group size is small, contacts are infrequent and behavior is unobtrusive. To maximize your feeling of privacy, avoid trips on holidays and busy weekends or take a trip during the off season.

Groups leading or riding livestock have the right-of-way on trails. Hikers and bicyclists should move off the trail to the downhill side. Talk quietly to the riders as they pass, since horses are spooked easily.

Take rest breaks on durable surfaces well off the designated trail. Keep in mind that visitors to seldom used places require an extra commitment to travel quietly and lightly on the land. Click here for more details on being considerate of others, including campsite etiquette, how to lessen visual impacts, dog-owner etiquette and respecting the land.

Learn more about Leave No Trace Canada.

Leave No Trace Tips: Respect Wildlife

As part of our regular feature on the seven Leave No Trace Principles, we’re featuring Principle #6: Respect Wildlife.

Learn about wildlife through quiet observation. Do not disturb wildlife or plants just for a “better look”. Observe wildlife from a distance so they are not scared or forced to flee. Large groups often cause more damage to the environment and can disturb wildlife so keep your group small. If you have a larger group, divide into smaller groups if possible to minimize your impacts.

 

Quick movements and loud noises are stressful to animals. Travel quietly and do not pursue, feed or force animals to flee. (One exception is in bear country where it is good to make a little noise so as not to startle the bears.) In hot or cold weather, disturbance can affect an animal’s ability to withstand the rigorous environment. Do not touch, get close to, feed or pick up wild animals. It is stressful to the animal, and it is possible that the animal may harbour rabies or other diseases. Sick or wounded animals can bite, peck or scratch and send you to the hospital. Young animals removed or touched by well-meaning people may cause the animal’s parents to abandon them. If you find sick animals or animal in trouble, notify a game warden. Click here for more details on respecting wildlife.

Learn more about Leave No Trace Canada.

Leave No Trace Tips: Minimize Campfire Impacts

As part of our regular feature on the seven Leave No Trace Principles, we’re featuring Principle #5: Minimize Campfire Impacts.

The use of campfires, once a necessity for cooking and warmth, is steeped in history and tradition. Some people would not think of camping without a campfire. Campfire building is also an important skill for every camper. Yet, the natural appearance of many areas has been degraded by the overuse of fires and an increasing demand for firewood. The development of light-weight efficient camp stoves has encouraged a shift away from the traditional fire. Stoves have become essential equipment for minimum-impact camping. They are fast, flexible and eliminate firewood availability as a concern in campsite selection. Stoves operate in almost any weather condition, and they Leave No Trace.

The first thing to ask yourself is do I need a campfire. Click here to learn more about:

  • Lessening impacts when campfires are used
  • Using existing fire rings
  • Building a mound fire
  • Using fire pans
  • Firewood and cleanup
  • Safety

Learn more at Leave No Trace Canada.

Leave No Trace Tips: Camp on Durable Surfaces

As part of our regular feature on the seven Leave No Trace Principles, we’re featuring Principle #2: Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces. Last time we focused on the first part of this Principle. Now we’ll focus on the second part: Camp on Durable Surfaces.

Selecting an appropriate campsite is perhaps the most important aspect of low-impact back try use. It requires the greatest use of judgment and information and often involves making trade-offs between minimizing ecological and social impacts. A decision about where to camp should be based on information about the level and type of use in the area, the fragility of vegetation and soil, the likelihood of wildlife disturbance, an assessment of previous impacts, and your party’s potential to cause or avoid impact. Find more detailed information here on:

  • Choosing a campsite in high-use areas
  • Camping in undisturbed remote areas
  • Camping in river corridors

Learn more at Leave No Trace Canada.