If You’re not a Bear, You Shouldn’t be Hibernating!

By Renée Hartleib

Photo2-smallBrian Orde has always been passionate about physical activity and its many benefits. And he’s been lucky enough to combine his love of all things outdoor and active with his life’s work.

With the County of Annapolis Recreation Services for the last 13 years, Brian started out as a summer student while was studying Recreation at Acadia University. In 2003, he came on full time as their Projects and Programs Assistant.

“I feel very lucky that I get to work in the community where I grew up, seeing familiar faces, and always meeting new people as well.” Brian’s goal is to ensure people have positive, enriching outdoor recreational experiences. “I love it when someone realizes how much fun recreation and the outdoors can be,” he says. “This often leads to them recreating those experiences on their own time.”

Snowshoeing certainly falls into this category for Brian. Nine years ago, he helped create the “Snowshoe Annapolis County Snowshoe Treks” and they’ve been growing ever since. This winter, they are offering seven events with five different routes, including a Sweethearts Moonlit Trek in Annapolis Royal for Valentines Day.

Guided by Brian, with his in depth knowledge of the county, the treks usually involve an element of the history of the region. Last year, a large group trekked along a trail to the Tupperville Falls.

Sheila Goldsmith, who lives in Round Hill, outside of Annapolis Royal, brought her husband and 14-year-old grandson along. “It was a beautiful walk through the woods on a looping trail with the waterfall at the half way mark.” Enormous icicles and huge glassy boulders greeted them. Even the fact that Sheila tripped a few times on her snowshoes didn’t wreck the fun! “And you can’t beat the hot cider and cookies at the end!”

Brian says that people are often drawn to the snowshoe treks for the camaraderie of it all. Others enjoy exploring new places, while still others do it for the sheer fitness element. Brian and his team offer a variety of distances: 1-2 km for family treks, with longer hikes of 10km too. And don’t let the fact that you don’t own snowshoes stop you—the County of Annapolis supplies them! Up to seventy people have participated in the past, making these events enormously successful.

For even larger groups within schools, community groups, and workplaces, the recreation group of the County of Annapolis also offers winter group activities. Two members of Brian’s team travel around the county in special vehicle filled with snowshoes, Nordic poles, and kick sleds. A special bag of tricks is pulled out for schools that include a geocaching treasure hunt. This year, there are 50 programs, and all in just 51 days!

 “A lot of people go into hibernation mode in the winter,” says Brian. “But our vision is to get as many people as possible out and active and having fun.”

 Don’t waste all the great snow this year. Get out there!

The Annapolis County snowshoe events are part of Hike Nova Scotia’s Winter Guided Snowshoe Hike series. Learn more at http://www.hikenovascotia.ca

Write or call Brian Orde to register for a snowshoe adventure in the Valley:

(902) 532-3144


Hibernating is for Bears Contest: Share a photo of yourself hiking, walking or snowshoeing by email, Twitter or on Facebook to win a $100 prize package! Learn more at https://hikenovascotia.wordpress.com.


Fall Guided Hike Series

Another slate of Fall Guided Hikes is available through Hike Nova Scotia and its partners across the province. The 15 hikes in September and October are led by local folks and participants qualify to win “trail prizes.” Click here for details on the following hikes:

  • Sept. 9: Annapolis Royal Seasonal Walk
  • Sept. 10: White Point to Burnt Head Trail, Cape Breton
  • Sept. 15: Fishing Cove Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park
  • Sept. 18: Cape George Trails, Antigonish County
  • Sept. 18: St. Mary’s River Walk, Waternish (Guysborough County)
  • Sept. 18: Windhorse Farm Trail, New Germany
  • Sept. 24: Greenwood Walk, Greenwood
  • Sept. 25: Card Lake Colors Hike, Card Lake Provincial Park (near Chester)
  • Oct. 2: Keji Trails, Kejimkujik National Park and Historic Site
  • Oct. 12: Acadian Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park
  • Oct. 13: Branch Pond Look-Off, Cape Breton Highlands National Park
  • Oct. 14: Franey Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park
  • Oct. 14: Kingston Year Round Walk, Kingston
  • Oct. 22: Kentville Pumpkin Walk, Kentville
  • Oct. 23: Rogers Hill Trail, Durham (Pictou County)

Hike NS thanks its partners for organizing the hikes on the ground: Valley Trekkers Volkssport Club, Hike the Highlands Festival, Fresh Air Society, Nova Scotia Nature Trust, St. Mary’s River Association, Windhorse Farm, Chester Recreation and Parks, Annapolis County Recreation Services, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Celtic Colours Festival, and Cape to Cape Committee of the Pictou County Trails Association.

Nictaux Falls

By Deb Ryan, Hike Nova Scotia President

Nictaux Falls Hike, south of Middleton, Annapolis County

This multi-use trail is located south of Middleton with plenty of parking spaces at the Middleton Lions Club Hall located on Highway #10.

The fall colours were brilliant hiking along the multi-use trail to the head pond and Nictaux Dam which was the destination. This former abandoned rail corridor has lots of history as trains would make their way to Port Wade with loads of iron ore to be shipped to New England markets. Remnants of iron ore are still visible if you know what you are looking for.

The trail follows a gradual incline and there are a few bends that are cut through the rocky terrain.

There are some worthy visuals along the way as you can find a well worn path that will give you a view of the former river valley gorge. No signage in this area.

Water stills flows in the Nictaux River but it is controlled by the dam. Many want to see the waterfall which changes with the outfall but you must hike down into the gorge to get a view.

This hike is approx. 14 km return from the dam and if you want to add extra hiking distance, keep heading south to the Alpena Rapids (approx. 20 km return).

Once at the head-pond, you may prefer a loop trek. Follow the Nictaux Canal west along an old maintenance road and hike along the man-made water canal which will take you to Highway #10. You would have to hike along Highway #10 back to the parking lot.

We stayed with the trail which is well drained and easy to walk on. We did encounter ATVs and dirt bikes and all were courteous. The sun did peek through the clouds on the return trip.

This hike is featured in the Hiking Trails of NS book and we had 11 keen hikers on the Sunday afternoon trek sponsored by Hike NS and Annapolis County Recreation.

Snowshoe Events Popular this Winter

Hike Nova Scotia and its many partners offered several guided snowshoe events across the province this winter in the months of January and February.  The average event attracted 26 participants with a high of 70 at Sugar Moon Farm..says Marie Stradeski, co-ordinator of winter events, Hike Nova Scotia. There was also one moonlight snowshoe event in Cape North. 

Many thanks to our partners include Ski Tuonela, North Highlands Nordic , Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Cape to Cape Trail, Annapolis County Recreation Dept., Sandy Cope Trail and Earltown Lakes & Portage Trail.

Annapolis County Recreation has a great newsletter on snowshoeing that explains the history, the physical activity benefits, types of snowshoes, and snowshoeing techniques.

Please find below a few pictures of some of the snowshoeing events that took place in Nova scotia this winter –