Duncan’s Cove

Trail Summary

     Since the area is designated as a nature reserve, special care must be taken to stay on the worn trail and not to disturb the sensitive environment. I suggest leaving the dog at home and not letting the kids trample their own paths. The  370 hectare nature reserve extends to nearby Chebucto Head, which is also a great area to explore.

     Parking and access to the area is poor and unmarked due to lack of action by the province to accommodate the many visitors.  Respect the local residents by not clogging the road with parked cars and avoid private land (see official boundaries).   

     Duncan’s Cove Nature Reserve has one of HRM’s top coastal hikes, if not the best.  The area is astonishingly beautiful where the coastal barrens give way to rugged granite cliffs, pounded by the Atlantic Ocean surf.

     Whales have been spotted in this area in the spring, bringing a pair of binoculars will increase your chances of seeing them, as well as getting a closer look at seals and shipping traffic beginning or ending their long Atlantic journey.

     Later in the summer is perhaps the ideal time to do this hike, as it is warmer and drier than the rest of the year. The cool ocean breeze can make temperatures here significantly lower than the mainland.

     The terrain is barren and rugged. In spring and summer it takes on more color and blueberry bushes stretch as far as the eye can see (recommended: Edible Plants of Eastern North America).  The large tracts of barren land, boulders and cliffs  are so vast that no matter where you look, you are struck by the large scale of your surrounding environment. 

     While it is very difficult to get lost due to the barren nature of the land and the easily identifiable foot paths, some of the trail can be tricky footing combined with treacherous drop-offs toward the end of the trail.  There are lots of soft muddy wet areas, so proper footwear is recommended.

     There are two old crumbling WW2 era lookout stations along the way, and 2 light houses visible during the hike.  Total hiking time is about 3 hours or 8km (to the end and back) and it is not a loop.  I recommend giving yourself 4 hours to do this trip properly, because you are sure to make plenty of stops.

          Recommended Reading:  Blog: Duncan’s Cove”.

Coastal exploration at its best

Difficulty: Moderate - Difficult (Terrain)

Setting: Coastal Barrens

Facilities: Small parking area.

Interpretation/Signage: None

· One of the best coastal hikes in Nova Scotia.

· Sensitive nature reserve - tread lightly.

· 8km round trip hike (3 hours).

· Two World War 2 era lookout stations.

Duncan's Cove, Nova Scotia

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