Hiking for the Holidays Online Auction

Nov. 18-Dec. 3HikingForTheHolidaysAuctionGraphic2017

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.

* * *

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.


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.

* * *

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.


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.


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.”


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.



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!


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 pre-registration is required unless otherwise indicated in the schedule. Hike NS thanks its partners for organizing the hikes on the ground as well as the ParticipACTION 150 Play List and the NS Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage for their support. Check out details in the schedule found at www.hikenovascotia.ca.

Trailgate Canada 150 Volunteer Trail Maintenance Days

Hike NS and six community trail groups will offer Trailgate Canada 150 events across the province this fall. These volunteer trail maintenance days give hikers a chance to help out their local community trail group. All equipment and guidance on trail maintenance is provided and volunteers will enjoy a “trailgate” party with barbeque and cake to celebrate Canada’s 150th. This project is funded by the Government of Canada. Events include:

-September 16 – Economy (Thomas’s Cove Coastal Trail)
-September 16 – Meat Cove (Seawall Trail)
-September 23 – Antigonish (Keppoch Mountain)
-September 30 – Halifax (Mainland Common)
-October 14 – Green Bay (Green Bay – Broad Cove Trail)
-October 14 – October 14 – Gulliver’s Cove, Digby Co. (Gulliver’s Head Look Off)

For more information, go to www.hikenovascotia.ca.

Registration for Hike NS Fall/Winter Courses Open

Registration is now open for Hike NS’s fall and winter courses across Nova Scotia. They range from how to be a hike leader to navigation. The specific offerings include: Field Leader – Hiking Courses; Field Leader – Winter Module; and Navigation Maps & Compass Courses. Dates, locations and costs vary, depending upon the course. Learn more and register at www.hikenovascotia.ca.

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 participants to see the true diversity in our province’s biological systems.

Jeana Mcleod, EAC Wilderness Outreach Officer, says the goal is to “encourage people to think about biodiversity and integrate [that] into their [daily] decisions.”

Participants, no matter their age or experience, contribute to the blitz by capturing digital images of plants, insects, etc. and uploading their findings to an online database called iNaturalist.

“[iNaturalist] is basically a platform where anyone can go out into the woods and take a photo of a bird, or an insect, or a plant…and upload it,” says MacLeod. “If it gets verified by someone it actually becomes research grade, so then the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre can use it.”

This form of citizen-science helps cultivate the identification of what exists in an area’s natural environment, and is a unique experience for people to learn as they contribute to larger community of environmental studies.

MacLeod sees it as “improve[ing] our collective understanding of the diversity of what’s around us and what different species habitat [these areas]… we hope that through these BioBlitz’s people will be more empowered to use iNaturalist after the fact and we can have a very citizen-science-led monitoring system across the province.”

  • To learn more, click here to watch a video filmed by Brayden Culligan at a recent BioBlitz via the EAC.

Q&A with the Natural Resources Education Centre

Last week, Brad Donaldson sat down with Martha Grantham and Amelia Kennedy of the Natural Resources Education Centre in Middle Musquodoboit, NS to discuss their organization.


Q: What are your roles with the Natural Resources Education Centre (NREC)?

Martha: I am the supervisor of the Natural Resources Education Centre.

Amelia: I’m a natural resource educator.


Q: Summarizing, what is the NREC?

Martha: We do education-based programs that are curriculum-related throughout the school year. The NREC is responsible for basically sharing information—and hopefully creating good stewards—largely with the Nova Scotia public, but a lot is with youth. We have 120 acres of woodlands and trails right here in our own backyard, so our programs take place in the building, then migrate outdoors where the best part happens because that’s where a lot of the youth don’t have the opportunity [to go].

Q: Can you tell us a little more about the Nature Learning Place Space, which really seems to be a shining spot of the organization?

Martha: It’s a pretty amazing, neat playground, using natural materials that really evolved out of a community partnership, with lots of sponsors that jumped on board and enabled us to create this great, non-traditional, nature-based [environment] where kids can get back to nature.




Q: What other programs does the organization offer?

Martha: [One is] something called “Grade 4s Outdoors” . And it basically gives every grade 4 student in the province (so about eight thousands of them) a two-night camping pass for any of our provincial camping parks.


Q: How is the NREC associated with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR)?

Martha: We’re in a branch [of the department] called Regional Services. It’s probably the largest part of the department, and within that [we work with] private lands, stewardship, and outreach. But it’s really about the outreach. There’s a focus on forestry and biodiversity, wildlife, rocks, minerals, mining, [parks], green spaces [as well].

Amelia: Within the department, [regional services] is seen as the service delivery. So we’re trying to get better at working with the rest of the department to deliver the messages if they have [something on] biodiversity, or some kind of other activity, whether it’s fire prevention—we can deliver that message for them.


Q: What are your organization’s biggest challenges?

Martha: Everyone has challenges with staffing and what not, so we do our best to offer programs and cover off what requests come in. But part of our job, which is really important, is to foster that sense of stewardship. And that’s really what the province is trying to do. [Another challenge is] because of the digital age that we’re in, there are a lot of people in the public that might not be as connected [with nature] as perhaps they were in the past. And it’s also a learning curve for us, too, because we’re navigating the digital world that [keeps] changing. So we know there are other things we could do but sometimes we have limitations in terms of our resources.


Q: What are some volunteer opportunities for people looking to give back and get more involved in fostering a love for the outdoors in their communities?

Martha: We’ve had co-op students from high schools and so on [in the past]. We don’t have a volunteer program per say. We did, for instance, have community build days for the Nature Learning Play Space. That was very much a community effort. And there are opportunities in some of the parks that are friends of [our] organization.



Q: Although there might not be a huge infrastructure for volunteers currently, are they still vital to organizations such as yours and others around the province?

Amelia: Definitely. And it might not be in the same kind of role we [usually] think of. But it’s just so huge that we live in such a beautiful province and just to take advantage of all those natural places and to have an opportunity to take kids outside. And to get them out and looking close at things…and being hands on. It always amazes me how when kids come out here, they’re all looking, listening, and happy to be outside. That’s huge for them. [Some of them] have never had that opportunity. We just need someone to take them there.


Q: Is there one area of Nova Scotia’s natural resources that stands out to the NREC?

Amelia: Some things that really hit home to me is that it’s amazing when we have kids—when we’re talking about wildlife—they’ll throw up their hands [with questions] on wildlife examples that come from Africa or the rainforest. And one of my passions is to speak of wildlife in Nova Scotia and what we have here. If we look closely, it’s amazing what we’ll see. And to talk about some of those adaptations and features, and make the kids really interested and knowledgeable about [our local wildlife] is something I’m really excited and passionate about.




Q: Regarding the NREC’s future, are there any changes, or areas of improvement, you would like to see addressed moving forward?

Martha: We know that not everyone can come here. So we’ll be looking at things that might make it easier for folks. Maybe we can improve our presence on the web, and we’ve been growing [our] social media. We’re looking at trying to be more accessible. And our trails are great but not always accessible to everyone. That’s gotta keep going. There will always be people who need to make a connection with nature. And that’s what we have here—we’ve got the real thing.


For more information, check out the NREC on Facebook, or visit their website.

Slate of 2017-18 Hike NS Courses & Workshops Released

Hike NS’s schedule of courses and workshops across Nova Scotia is now available for 2017-18. Beginning in June through to February, they range from how to share nature with children to how to be a hike leader to navigation. 

Continue reading “Slate of 2017-18 Hike NS Courses & Workshops Released”

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”