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With Nova Scotia’s complex and diverse geography all packed into a relatively small landmass, it’s no surprise that the area has become a hotspot for adventure travel. An average hike can lead you from vistas of the highest tides in the world, to atop towering exposed cliffs, battered or white sand beaches, and on to flowing rivers and rolling hills. Here is our list of the top 10 summer hikes you must do this summer in Nova Scotia…
We can’t mention summer and Nova Scotia without mentioning the Cabot Trail: Canada’s answer to California’s Route One. This highway runs for 298 kilometres on Cape Breton Island and features over 25 trails along the coast and through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Standouts include Skyline Trail and Salmon Pools Trail. The many trails along the Cabot present some of the best shoreline opportunities for whale watching in the province.
Gaff point is only a seven-kilometre loop on 124 acres of protected land, but it’s a gem on a sunny afternoon. The trail, which explores the South Shore of Nova Scotia, is relatively unknown and offers up some incredible views with a mix of beach, estuary, spruce woodland, and rugged shoreline. The trail features a secret beach that some rappel down to, but hikers have been known to make the sketchy descent without ropes or harness.
Clyburn Valley Trail
While Nova Scotia offers up some of the best-rugged coastlines in the country, its geography is diverse. This diversity can be seen on Clyburn Valley Trail, which follows a river, features amazing hardwood forests, enormous boulders, vast meadows, apple trees, and remnants of an old gold mine.
Cape Split Trail
Cape Split Trail has easy access but immediately heads into a forest featuring a cliff-side hike that’s prone to erosion and slides. Make the six-kilometre trek through and you’re rewarded with a meadow featuring unrivaled views of the Bay of Fundy and Minas Basin.
Liberty Lake Trail in Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site
Not for the inexperienced, most take five days to fully enjoy this 56-kilometre trail in Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site. This backcountry trail features the full view of “interior” Nova Scotia: bogs, streams, hemlock forests, lakes. Try to book campsite 45, which is located in a stand of white pines and features some amazing morning light across Frozen Ocean Lake.
Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail
Located on the south side of Chignecto Bay, this three-day 50-kilometre hike is undeservedly overshadowed by the Fundy Footpath. Chignecto Coastal Trail offers views of sheltered coves, old growth forests, and vistas from 180-meter cliffs overlooking the icy ocean.
Herring Cove Trail
Herring Cove Trail isn’t far from Halifax but has very little signage. The landscape is similar to Peggy’s Cove or Duncan’s Cove with epic views, so be sure to bring your camera. Hike in the afternoon and watch the sunset as the surf breaks and ships pass through to Halifax Harbour.
Eastern Passage to Rainbow Haven Beach
This 22-kilometre hike is the perfect way to get some exercise before killing a day on Rainbow Haven Beach. The hike is easy, picturesque, and features convocations of eagles. The beach itself is sheltered by a cove, which means less wind and more heat. The beach is only an hour drive from Halifax, so plan to go through the week or get there early to score a good spot.
Hemlocks and Hardwoods in Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site
Uniquely designated as both a national park and historic site, this iconic 5 KM trail gives visitors the unique experience of hiking among majestic old-growth hemlocks. When the oldest of these trees were just sprouting, the Mi’kmaq were the only humans to inhabit the Kejimkujik landscape.
Louisbourg Lighthouse Trail
Because lighthouses and Nova Scotia belong together. Walk along a pristine stretch of coastline with stunning views of the harbour, islands and Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. Smell the salt spray and listen to the waves crashing at your feet. This trial leads to the site of the first lighthouse in Canada, built in 1734.