Hiking Nova Scotia

Duncan’s Cove

My latest excursion was to a place that I had heard good things about but never been.  With a new camera begging to be taken on a tour. I decided to check it out.
The trail, like many throughout the province, is not marked or signed very well. Once you pull onto Duncan’s Cove Road, there is no hint of where the trail is other than a small gravel parking area on the side of the road near a private access road entrance. I guessed that this was where we enter even though it looked a bit sketchy.

Right away as you walk down the main road toward the private road you get to see a glimpse of the great views you are about to encounter. The unique community of houses are also blend of classic nova Scotia coastal communities and modern architecture. The first few hundred meters might seem as though you are trespassing but once you reach the top of the hill, the beautiful rugged coastline and the rest of the trail become visible. It is a great example of some of the hidden gems that are everywhere in the province. The coastal views are as good as it gets. For a short day hike which isn’t a far drive from Halifax, you’d be hard pressed to find a better spot than this.

P9028097It was late august and the blueberry bushes which saturate the coastal Barrens were in full bloom. A few seconds of foraging bore a handful of delicious Huckleberries. My sister in law later visited here with my nephews and I received some fantastic arctic blueberry jam! (Recommended reading: “Field Guide to Edible Plants in Eastern and Central North America“)

There are a couple of world war one era lookouts which mark roughly the mid point and end point of the trail. When I reached the first lookout which only took about 30 minutes I felt like there was no need to go any further, as the views here were spectacular. My stop here probably added 20 minutes to the trip but I would advise others to do the same. I’m sure that spotting whales from here can be achieved with the proper amount of dedication and daydreaming.

P9028132The second leg of the journey includes some really great rock climbing opportunities and great spots to watch the powerful surf up close (caution strongly advised). The trail gets more rugged toward the end and there is potential for a catastrophic fall in a couple of places if you aren’t paying attention. These dangers are to be considered if you bring kids along but otherwise add to the character of the trail.

The second lookout marks the end of the trail and again the views are spectacular. Green rocky barrens stretch as far as the eye can see to the west, blue skies and ocean as far as you can see to the east. Another great example of modern architecture lies further down the coast on what has to be one of the nicest dwellings in the province. I’m not sure which aspect of this place is the most impressive: the house, the pool, the property, or the immense rock wall surrounding the property.
P9028100After this point the trail ends and you must turn back around and head back the same way you came. Usually I’m not a big fan of linear pathways and prefer looped trails but in this case there is so much scenery to take in, that doubling back isn’t a chore.

All in all this was another unexpectedly spectacular day trip even to someone who was born and raised in Halifax but had never been.  I recommend it to anyone who wants to see one of Nova Scotia’s greatest coastal landscapes. You can snap some great photos, get back to your childhood rock climbing days, breathe in some fresh ocean air while getting top quality exercise….and end up with some fresh blueberry jam!
For more detailed info on Duncan’s Cove, visit my website.

Greg Taylor
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Duncans Cove, NS, Canada

5 replies on “Duncan’s Cove”

@Anonymous – The trail does keep going, however there is a home & land (one that's up for sale)which covers 40 acres. Once you come to a wall of rocks that's the beginning of his property. I've hiked to that, as well as talked with the architect of the house. One is not allowed to continue onto this property. Also in Ketch Harbour there is Sandy Cove, you can hike to the right of there, but not to the left as the Institute for Marine Biosciences is located there. That area also has signs indicating "No Trespassing." Now if you hike from Sandy Cove to the right you can go just passed Pond Cove, but not much further (again as more houses are there). Also note that Sandy Cove to the right is strictly rock hopping, there is no trail, not like what's at Duncan's Cove.

Thanks once again, for sharing a fabulous destination. Also a lifelong Haligonian, I'm happy to know of these great places that I seem to have missed. Love your blog.

A lot of hikers using this trail are then continuing on over private property (after the WW2 Bunker) and over very sensitive terrain which they are damaging. The private property starts at the granite boulder wall. Do not go beyond this wall or you will be trespassing.

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