Monday, April 28, 2014

My Trail of the Week: April 28, 2014: Rogart Mountain, Nova Scotia

The Rogart Mountain Trail is a fine footpath exploring one of the higher points of land on the Cobequid Mountains. What makes this special, almost unique in Nova Scotia, is its relationship with the Sugar Moon Farm restaurant, a maple syrup and pancake house. The community group that developed and maintained the trail, the Cobequid Eco-Trails Society, and the business work together. The restaurant provided access to its land for the trail to be built, and promotes its use; the trail group returns that bounty by keeping the path in excellent condition, year-round.

This winding footpath is a loop, starting and ending in the Sugar Moon Farm parking lot. In addition to climbing to a look-off, it also passes next to a small, but scenic, waterfall. However, you should visit in the springtime; by late-summer, only a trickle of water remains, if that.

Length: 6.5 km
Hiking Time: 2+hrs
Type of Trail: natural surface, compacted earth
Uses: walking, snowshoeing
Facilities: interpretive panels, restaurant at trailhead

Further Information:

Friday, April 4, 2014

My Trail of the Week: April 4, 2014: Whycocomagh Provincial Park

Whycocomagh Provincial Park is a small campground perched on a hill-slope bordering the Bras d'Or Lakes. At first glance, it appears small and probably uninteresting, especially to experienced hikers eager to reach the Highlands National Park. Do not be deceived, because the trail system here, though short in distance, requires physical fitness, sure-footedness, and comfort with navigating through thick forest with inadequate signage: I love it!

The Salt Mountain Trail is a short, but challenging, walk, for the summit is 230 m (750 ft) above Bras d'Or Lake, requiring a steep climb indeed. This trail's proximity to Highway 105 makes it a pleasant diversion for those passing by who want to stretch their legs and enjoy a marvellous view. Hiking just the Highlander and Salt Mountain trails is about 3.5 km (2.2 mi): tough but worthwhile. Adding the Scout Trail more than doubles the distance, and because of the rugged, hilly terrain, more than doubles the effort required. This section, in particular, is not recommended for novices.

Length: 9.5 km (return)
Hiking Time: 3+hr
Type of Trail: natural surface
Uses: walking, snowshoeing
Facilities: outhouses, water, picnic tables, benches, camping, firewood, cooking shelters, interpretive panels, garbage cans.

Further Information:

Friday, March 21, 2014

Trail of the Week, March 21, 2014: Uniacke Estate Museum Park

Uniacke Estate Museum Park is a great place to visit on a week-end and stretch your legs, and their walking routes are a fine addition to Nova Scotia's trail network. This is an excellent site for novices to try shorter distances over varied terrain.

Each trail is well-marked with coloured wooden triangles affixed to trees, a different colour for each named trail. In addition, maps are posted at all trail junctions, and usually found at the half-way point of longer routes, such as the Post Road.

One of Nova Scotia's two "Great Roads" required for movement of troops and cattle after the founding of Halifax, the Halifax-Windsor road featured weekly stage service by 1801, with mail and passenger service offered by 1815. Mount Uniacke, located halfway between the communities, made a convenient watering place.

Expect very soggy conditions in the spring, especially in the tellingly named 'Wetlands Trail'.

Length: 12 km (7.5 mi) rtn
Hiking Time: 3+hrs
Type of Trail: compacted earth, natural surface, crushed stone
Uses: walking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing
Facilities: picnic tables, benches, outhouses, garbage cans, interpretive panels

Further Information:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hike of the Week, March 14, 2014 - Money Point, Nova Scotia

Money Point received its name after a ship carrying the pay for the garrison in Quebec was lost nearby. Since then, supposedly, gold and silver coins are still occasionally found in the surrounding sand and rocks. Today only an automated light beacon warns shipping of Money Point’s hazards, but the former lighthouse still exists, moved in 1980 to the Canada Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa.

At almost the extreme northern tip of Cape Breton Island, Money Point is another hike I can recommend it to anyone with mountain goat in his or her ancestry. With nearly 750m (2,500ft) of vertical climb, this trail requires a certain level of fitness to undertake. The hike follows the former access road to the lighthouse, but as the current beacon is solar-powered, the road is no longer maintained, and is grievously eroded.

Length: 13 km (8 mi) return
Hiking time: 4+hr
Type of Trail: natural surface, compacted earth
Uses: walking, biking, ATVs, snowmobiling*, cross country skiing*, snowshoeing
Facilities: none

Further Information:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hike of the Week, March 6, 2014 - Taylor Head Provincial Park, Nova Scotia

With 7,000-km of ocean shoreline, you should expect that Nova Scotia can provide some incredible coastal hiking. Taylor Head Provincial Park occupies a rugged stony part of the Eastern Shore, extending far into the Atlantic Ocean. With more than 16-km (10-mi) of coastline, of which at least one kilometre is magnificent white sand beach, and approximately 18-km (11.25-mi) of trails, this is a wonderful spot to hike. Finally, the place is simply gorgeous!

The trails on Taylor Head are narrow and occasionally challenging. Radiating out from a central start at the parking area, at least four walking options are available. Novices should try the shorter routes before attempting the Headland or Bull Beach trails. Experienced hikers will prefer to complete the entire network.

Because of the layout of the various paths radiating out from a central starting point, adjacent to the beach and the picnic area, there will be ample opportunity to shuck the pack and relax between different trails.

In the early 19th century, Taylor Head was granted to loyalists fleeing the American Revolution. The poor soil thinly covering the headland was insufficient to support the families who arrived, so like most settlements this community depended upon a mix of fishing, farming, and lumbering to survive. Glaciers have scoured the exposed headland that makes up the park, and deposited stray rocks, called erratics, throughout the peninsula.

Taylor Head extends far into the Atlantic and experiences high winds and extreme conditions much of the year. Users of the Headland Trail in particular should expect lower temperatures, and should avoid the ocean's edge in stormy and high water conditions.

Directions: The park is near Spry Bay on Highway 7, 100-km (62-mi) from Halifax and 11-km (7-mi) from Sheet Harbour. A very large sign marks the entrance; turn onto the dirt road and drive 5-km (3-mi) to the parking lot. Hikers should continue to the final (4th) parking area; wheelchair access to the beach is available from the first lot.

Alternate access to the Bobs Bluff/Bull Beach Trails is found 800 m/yd from the park entrance on Highway 7.

Synopsis: Beach Walk: 2-km (1.25-mi), Bobs Bluff/Bull Beach: 9.5-km (6-mi), Headland: 7-km (4.5-mi), Spry Bay: 3.5-km (2.25-mi) 
Hiking time: 45 min-3 hr
Type of Trail: walking paths, beaches, former road
Uses: hiking

Facilities: outhouses, picnic tables, change houses, water, beach, interpretive panels
Further Information:
  • Hiking Trails of Mainland Nova Scotia
  • Trails of Halifax Regional Municipality
  • Pictures
  • YouTube Video
  • Department of Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Division, Brochure

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Book Signings in Halifax - June 29/30

Have a book that you would like signed? Maybe you have a question about on Nova Scotia hiking trail. Or maybe you just want to visit a bookstore on a weekend.

If any of these conditions describe you, then come spend a few minutes with me on June 29 or June 30 at one of these Halifax locations:

Saturday, June 29: 12 noon - 1:30pm - Chapters, Mic Mac Mall, Dartmouth

Saturday, June 29: 2:30 - 4pm - Coles, Halifax Shopping Centre

Sunday, June 30: 1-3pm - Chapters, Bayers Lake, Halifax

See you there!

Monday, June 10, 2013

NS Hiking Summit 2013: June 21-22 St. Ann's, Cape Breton

Hike Nova Scotia invites individuals and groups with an interest in hiking, walking and snowshoeing to the second annual Nova Scotia Hiking Summit. This event will take place on Friday, June 21 and Saturday, June 22, 2013 at the Gaelic College in St. Ann's on Cape Breton Island. The Summit is a celebration of Nova Scotia's hiking culture, which includes sharing best practices, stories and networking opportunities. It will help us grow a hiking, walking and snowshoeing culture in the province.

For a detailed agenda and to register, go to www.hikenovascotia.ca.