Snowshoeing Nova Scotia: Part 3

BY BRAD DONALDSON

This winter, we’ll be highlight some of the province’s best trails for snowshoeing. For part three — our final instalment of this series — we’ve focused on Cape Breton and the highlands region. Parts one and two can be found here and here, respectively. 

1. Keppoch Mountain: A popular spot for mountain bikers, Keppoch Mountain’s trail system is also one Nova Scotia’s finest for hiking and snowshoeing. Not far from Antigonish, the area is an outdoor haven with 29 multi-use trails that stretch over 300 acres. For those who don’t have their own, snowshoes available on site for rent.

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Photo by @marsandmyrtle.

2. Fitzpatrick Mountain: Part of the Cape to Cape trail system, Fitzpatrick Mountain’s main, eight-kilometre trail is surrounded by beautiful woods, with babbling brooks trickling through the trees. The trailhead can be found behind the tennis courts in Scotsburn, directly beside the community baseball field. Snowshoers can expect a challenge when tackling this trail, as it meanders over terrain nearing 300 metres above sea-level.

3. Baille Ard Nature Trails: When strolling through the Acadian forests that encompass the Baille Ard Nature Trails, it’s hard to believe you’re just ten minutes from downtown Sydney. As fresh snow crunches under your feet, and a winter breeze rolls through the trees, the chances are you’ll feel more in the middle of the wilderness than anything. This trail system can be explored in a number of ways, as different trails wind their way through the area. And snowshoes can be rented at the Cape Breton Regional Municipality Recreation Office.

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Photo by @homeintheeast.

4. Skyline Trail: There’s something special about enjoying a classic trail under the fresh coat of a new season. The Skyline Trail might just be the poster-child for hiking in Nova Scotia, its views casted over the rugged coastlines of Cape Breton Island. But these views can also be enjoyed during winter, when snow covers the trees and cliffs that make Cape Breton one of the province’s most popular destinations.

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Photo by Tracey MacDonald.

5. Cabot Shores: Cabot Shores is a dazzling escape into the heart of Cape Breton’s wilderness. So when the heavy snows of winter fall, it’s hard to find a better place. This rural resort is built on 55 acres of land, offering dramatic views of the island’s scenery, which includes frigid mountain tops and frozen waterfalls.

*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 Hilary Hendsbee.

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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

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.

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”

Featured Trail: Cape Smokey Provincial Park

Trail Name: Cape Smokey Provincial Park

Location: Cape Smokey, Cape Breton

Description: “This trail starts at the Cape Smokey Provincial Park. Smokey is one of the most famous mountains in Cape Breton.” It features a 10 kilometre (return) rugged trail, picnic tables, look-offs, spectacular views, and rest stops.

Map: Find a map and directions here.

Featured Trail: Caribou-Munroes Island

By Amanda Cashin

We’re tying a different format for our Featured Trails. One of Hike NS’s board members, Amanda Cashin, has a blog of the hikes and adventures she takes. Her blog is called Beachcomber & Trail-Roamer. We’d like to share some of her blog postings with you.

On what may have been the coldest day in October to-date, I had a

beach day. It was a chilly 9 degrees and under overcast skies my partner and I enjoyed a hike at Caribou-Munroes Island Provincial Park. As we set out for our day trip to Pictou County we were hopeful; the sun was shining brightly and fluffy white clouds filled the sky. By the time we arrived along the Northumberland Shore though, it was down-right cold and the sun had started to disappear.

In typical Nova Scotia fashion though, the sun did show itself and warm our walk in short intervals. Cold or not, I’m not going to pass up a day at the beach. Read the full posting here.

Featured Trail: Cape Chignecto Provincial Park

Trail Name: Cape Chignecto Provincial Park

Location: Advocate Harbour

Description: “At Cape Chignecto Provincial Park, towering 180 metre (600 feet) sea cliffs rise from the Bay of Fundy, while the world’s highest tides lap at their base. Best described as a wilderness park, it has 29 kilometre (18 miles) of pristine coastline, deep valleys, sheltered coves, rare plants, and remnant old-growth forests. The park offers over 40 kilometres (25 miles) of wilderness trails and remote walk-in campsites.”

Map: Find a map and directions here.

Featured Trail: Blomidon Provincial Park

Trail Name: Blomidon Provincial Park

Location: Canning

Description: “Rising majestically from the shores of the Minas Basin, Blomidon Provincial Park is renowned for its spectacular views. Blomidon’s 759 ha (1,875 acres) include 180 m (600 ft.) high cliffs, a variety of habitats, striking natural features, abundant wildlife — and the world’s highest tides wash its shores. These natural attractions provide excellent opportunities for camping, hiking, beachcombing, photography or just appreciating nature.” Blomidon is host to fourteen kilometres of interconnected trails with a variety of habitats and scenic look-offs.

Map: Find a map and directions here.

Draft Parks & Protected Areas Plan Ready for Feedback

Nova Scotians are invited to help define the final parks and protected areas plan to manage and protect Nova Scotia’s natural spaces. A draft was released on February 28.  The province says it will protect the most sensitive and important lands in our province and meet the goal of reviewing the province’s parks system, which is included in The Path We Share, Nova Scotia’s natural resources strategy. The province would protect more than 13 per cent of its lands, surpassing its legislated goal to protect at least 12 per cent of Nova Scotia. Currently, about 9.3 per cent is protected. The plan proposes to:

  • Add: 4 new provincial parks (960 ha); 44 new wilderness areas (126 020 ha); and 120 new nature reserves (33 690 ha)
  • Expand: 12 provincial parks (3940 ha); 32 wilderness areas (72 070 ha); and 10 nature reserves (4330 ha)
  • Transfer: In order to create a more effective parks and protected areas system, the plan proposes to transfer 2500 hectares of provincial parklands to protected areas and 1000 hectares of parklands to Crown land (still available for public use).

With these changes, the proposed parks and protected areas system would include: 187 provincial parks; 84 wilderness areas; and 142 nature reserves. Nova Scotians have until May 1 to review and comment on the document. Feedback will help shape the final plan. Give feedback online or attend one of 17 public consultation sessions in March and April across NS.