This time of year we begin to emerge from indoor hibernation looking for places to soak in the fresh, colourful rebirth of Spring. As things turn from grey to green, trails change from frozen solid to soft, muddy, and wet. Be sure to wear rugged, waterproof footwear that will stand up to Spring mud, puddles & slippery terrain.
Trails are susceptible to a lot of damage this time of year from careless use. Go easy on them, stay on the trail, don’t create new ones, be mindful of where you step, and always Leave No Trace! Remember that most of our trails are maintained by volunteers, so please don’t create more unpaid work for them & support the groups who work on your favourite local trails.
When shifting gears from winter downtime, it’s easy to have sensibilities outweighed by ambition so it’s best to start off with outings that won’t leave you completely gassed. Here’s a top 10 list hikes on the easy end of the scale to start off on the right foot:
This little #wetland oasis in the heart of Clayton Park may seem boring and unassuming at first. Don’t let its small size fool you. There is plenty of biodiversity packed into this quaint urban setting.
This unique spot is a popular gathering place for all kinds of different birds and waterfowl. If you stick around to do some #birdwatching you may be treated to osprey, bald eagles, great blue heron and other species rarely seen in such an urban setting.
Read about the local habitat and the history of the area with information panels courtesy of the Halifax North West Trails Association. At 1.5km, a full loop on its wide gravel pathway is easily accomplished, making it accessible to all.
What Haligonian doesn’t love Fleming Park? Saying you don’t like Fleming Park is like saying you hate Point Pleasant Park, which is enough to get you exiled from Halifax.
Whether it’s a picnic, a jog, a paddle or some good old-fashioned gallivanting, this place is amazing in the Spring. Seeing everything starting to bloom at Fleming Park, makes it no wonder why it’s such a popular place for weddings. I think every Haligonian is married to Fleming Park.
Like a nature show where animals slowly emerge from a long winter hibernation, Point Pleasant Park becomes the human version of that every Spring. Each change of season means it’s time for another visit to Point Pleasant Park.
You can almost see the heart of Halifax beating here. I sometimes think that the mood of the city is a reflection of the current climate at Point Pleasant Park. It’s ideal for jogging, walking, catching, throwing, pondering, and most other verbs.
It may be a little early to spend a lot of time taking in views of the chilly Atlantic coastline, but if you’re a true Nova Scotian, there’s never an unacceptable time for a #coastal outing.
For all coastal hikes, you’ll want to bring extra layers, as conditions differ significantly from the mainland, and are subject to rapid changes. Proper footwear is a must for cautious footing on slippery, rocky terrain.
This trail follows 1.5km of coastline, so it’s short enough to head back if conditions change. With beautiful scenery throughout, you can walk the entire 1.5km (3km return) or just take in the view from one of the benches just steps from the parking lot.
Though it’s a short trail, climbing and scampering among the rocks can be a workout in itself. It’s an alternative to your cross-fit class and a great place to re-center yourself in nature’s yoga studio.
It has a heart-shaped pond. This area has been loved since Halifax’s early days. What’s not to love about old-growth forest minutes from downtown Halifax? If you love Point Pleasant Park, you’ll love the sans-coastline version of it too.
The ravine itself is pretty cool, and the trails are exactly like what you see at Point Pleasant. Ideal for strolls with loved ones. You could become another chapter in the park’s amorous history by proposing marriage next to the heart-shaped pond. Get married at Fleming Park, have photos taken at Point Pleasant and accomplish the Halifax relationship trifecta. Or you could just go and appreciate the absolute jewel we have here.
As Frankie MacDonald says; be prepared! This one requires some navigation and prior wilderness hiking experience. Though it’s a short hike that can be done in under 2 hours, it does require a steady climb through rugged, unmarked trails. The area has a logging past so it has roads and paths that can lead you in many wrong directions or onto private property.
In 2021, decades of public access ended as a private landowner closed access to their portion of this area, citing irresponsible dog owners and general disrespect to the land. This leaves only one entry, which I’m sure will be very busy during peak times. Be sure to respect the neighbourhood by keeping the noise down and of course, always Leave No Trace and pack out what you pack in.
Nonetheless, making it atop Blue Mountain is a spectacular breath of fresh Spring air. High vantage points like this are few and far between in Halifax. This one is the highest point of Halifax’s Chebucto Peninsula, with unobstructed views for many kilometers in all directions. It can be windy and cool up there so dress accordingly, and bring something to sit on to enjoy the view without punishing your tailbone.
If you have something that has wheels and is powered by human kinetics, go take it for a rip on this converted railway trail system. The Chain Of Lakes Trail is paved, so possibilities abound. The B.L.T. trail is mostly compacted crusherdust which can be soggy after a spring soaker.
Have a look at the maps and plan how far you want to go. This is quickly becoming an active transportation highway, so follow the rules of the road. The perfect excuse to dust off that new fitness tracker you got for Christmas and never learned how to use.
This 5km loop around Witherod Lake and along the shore of Long Lake has had a lot of buzz since its opening in April 2016. You wouldn’t think an urban park, 5 times the size of Central Park could be classified as a hidden gem but Long Lake has long been that.
Now the cat is out of the bag, and the park is welcoming everyone with wide open arms (and 4 meter wide pathways). With a new 60 car parking lot, washrooms, benches galore, bike racks to lock your bike while you go for a swim, this trail is meant to accommodate lots of people.
2) Polly’s Cove.
If you’ve spent more than an hour in Nova Scotia, it usually means you’ve been to Peggy’s Cove. Rightfully so. It’s absolutely beautiful. If you can’t take a photo that gets at least 10 “likes” there, you obviously need a new camera.
What’s lesser-known is the nearby hiking trails of Polly’s Cove. If you want a different perspective on Peggy’s Cove, head there. You get all the benefits of Peggy’s Cove (astounding coastal beauty) without the crowds. Peggy’s Cove looks just as cool from a distance. Bring binoculars and a camera with a zoom. You’ll see the area in a way you haven’t seen it before.
On the more difficult end of the scale, is the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area. The lone “easy” trip here is to Hobsons Lake & back, though it is via rugged, unmarked trails. Proper footwear, preparation & safety gear are musts.
This area could become part of one of the most spectacular urban parks in North America. Haven’t been there? Go. Here are a few reasons why:
If you’ve ever been to Kejimkujik National Park, you’ll be astounded to see the same kind of setting right here in urban Halifax’s backyard. Pristine untouched lakes, surrounded by Acadian forest that’s been spared from modern logging and development, with a sprinkling of huge old-growth trees. In most cities, those are things something you’d normally have to drive hours to find.
In the Spring, without full foliage, it’s easier to navigate. For that same reason, you have broader views of the area’s 5 lakes. There are numerous high points with expansive views that offer no hint of urban surroundings. This land is truly wild, rugged & untouched. There is so much here to explore, that you’ll likely want to make many return visits to explore different areas. No two outings are the same, and you’ll always discover something new.
It’s an authentic wilderness hiking experience. If you appreciate a raw, natural hike, this place has everything you’ve been looking for. If you consider unmarked trails a good thing, these ones are right up your alley. The Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area can accommodate adventures large or small, including a multi-day, multi-lake paddling adventure through its interconnecting waterways. It’s like exploring a national park in waiting.
The topography of the area contains many rocky peaks and low-lying marshy areas. These low-lying areas are especially wet and muddy in spring, sometimes requiring rubber boots.
Since this wilderness area is still not protected in its entirety, a proper trail system cannot be planned, built, or maintained. Support the Friends of Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes to help make this long-promised wilderness park a reality.
The order of this list is merely a formality. The important thing is to get outside and get acquainted with the assets that make Halifax such a unique city. These 10 are good places to start. If you’re new to exploring, take things slow and cautious before gaining confidence and experience to tackle larger adventures. Always make sure someone is aware of where you’re going and pack basic safety gear every time.
Through my trail guides on HalifaxTrails.ca, I aim to equip you with everything you need to know before you go. Check out my info page to make the most of the resources I have to offer. If you appreciate the work I put into these free guides, please support my work so I can keep adding & updating. Don’t forget to share your experiences on social media with the hashtag #HalifaxTrails. – Happy Trails!
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