Guides Hiking Nova Scotia

Top 5 Most Popular Parks & Trails Near Halifax, Nova Scotia

The 5 Most Popular Parks & Trails on

     Parks & trails that garnered the most interest in 2023. The top-5 most-viewed guides compiled from website traffic on These trails are all either located within Halifax Regional Municipality, or a day-trip from it.

     The biggest change from 2022 is the somewhat surprising appearance of Jerry Lawrence Provincial Park into the top 5.  What used to be one of the lesser-appreciated provincial parks, Jerry Lawrence Park seems to be getting re-discovered. The other 4 have been consistently the most-viewed for the past few years.

5) Jerry Lawrence Provincial Park

Jerry Lawrence Provincial Park

  • Wheelchair Accessible Fishing Piers.
  • Picnic Areas With Charcoal Pits.
  • Direct Access To 2 Lakes.
  • Access To Adjacent Rails-To-Trails.

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    Jerry Lawrence Provincial Park (formerly Lewis Lake Provincial Park) is a great nature retreat within Halifax Regional Municipality between the communities of Hubley and Tantallon.

    Its small trail system is well maintained and directly connects to the multi-use Saint Margaret’s Bay Trail, making it a great stopping point on the larger Rum Runners Trail route from Halifax to Lunenburg.

     A day-use, wheelchair-accessible picnic park, it’s an ideal stopping place along the rails-to-trails or as a family-friendly picnic destination. The park is sandwiched in between two lakes, Round Lake & Lewis Lake with access to both.

     The access road connects to a 1km looped gravel road in between the two lakes.  This loop is lined with plenty of drive-up picnic areas. The space adjacent to the parking lot on the Round Lake side is perfect for larger gatherings with a covered picnic area, charcoal pit, numerous picnic tables, and adjacent accessible washrooms.

     On the Lewis Lake side of the loop is a large drive-up picnic area, charcoal pit, and lake access. Swimming and paddling are allowed in both lakes, but not near the fishing areas (better reserved for Lewis Lake).  There aren’t isn’t a dedicated paddling launch or swimming area, but some of the picnic sites have water access.

4) Gaff Point Hiking Trail

Gaff Point Hirtles Beach Hiking Trail Nova Scotia

  • 7.5km return hike (~2hrs)
  • Looped peninsula trail.
  • Huge, beautiful 3km sand beach. 
  • Scenic, rugged hike with plenty of inland and coastal stretches.

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     The cat is out of the bag with Gaff Point.  This former South Shore secret is claiming its spot among the province’s most scenic places and has now become the #1 coastal hike according to my website data. Just past the beautiful town of Lunenburg, tucked amidst charming coastal communities lies a slice of what it means to visit Nova Scotia.  The moment your car door closes, the immense 3km smooth sand ‘Hirtles Beach’ will impress you with sheer, natural awe.

     After walking along 1.5 kilometers of beautiful Hirtles Beach, you’ll hike a peninsula rich in visual and biodiversity.  This bastion of nature offers rugged coastline cliffs, lush forest, and a “secret beach” to boot.  Nova Scotia’s coastal beauty at its protected best, reminding us how increasingly rare sights like these are.

     The trail was hit hard by hurricane Dorian in 2019 which required lots of volunteer time and money from to the Nature Conservancy of Canada to be able to safely re-open the trail.  They have since kindly re-opened it after extensive work.

3) Polly’s Cove

Polly's Cove Hiking Trail

  • Next to ever-popular Peggy’s Cove.
  • Rocky, coastal barren landscape.
  • Unmarked, muddy trails.
  • Great for boulder climbing.

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     A 45-minute drive from downtown Halifax and located next door to one of the region’s most popular tourist destinations, this area has all the natural beauty of Peggy’s Cove without the large crowds.  Offering a different perspective of Peggy’s Cove, and a larger area to explore, Polly’s Cove is great for anyone looking to do some coastal exploration.

     The trails are narrow, unmarked, and often muddy.  Keep to the well-established paths as this sensitive nature area is home to nesting coastal birds and easily disturbed vegetation.  Full of low-lying bushes and shrubs, it’s the type of terrain that can scrape up your legs so come prepared with pants, high socks, or gaiters.

     With plenty of coastal beauty to feast your eyes and camera lenses on, you can easily fill spend an entire day exploring.  You can spend hours listening to crashing waves as fishing boats come and go, rock climbing on the glacially sculpted landscape, or maxing your camera’s memory storage.  Finding a new favourite nook on every visit, my trips are often 1 part hiking, 2 parts stopping to take in views.

2) The Salt Marsh Trail

Salt Marsh Trail

  • Well marked, maintained & patrolled.
  • Popular bird-watching destination.
  • 9km (one way) linear “rails-to-trails”.
  • Plenty of benches & picnic areas.

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     Unchanged after ranking up 2 spots the previous year is the beloved Salt Marsh Trail.  30 minutes from downtown Halifax, located in Cole Harbour.  Part of the province’s extensive “rails-to-trails” network, this one ranks as the most popular according to my website data.  This linear (up & back) trail is great on its own or as part of a longer trip continuing onto the Atlantic View Trail, popular Lawrencetown Beach & beyond.

     The unique salt marsh habitat is a haven for birds and prime hunting ground for eagles & osprey.  You’ll often see bird enthusiasts and nature photographers here due to the diverse wildlife. Local Bird Guide Books.

     This scenic causeway is a former railway that stretches across the water for 3.5km.  Complete with periodic bridges, benches & picnic tables, there are plenty of places to stop to take in the view.

     The trail is well marked, maintained, and even patrolled for safety thanks to the Cole Harbour Parks & Trails Association.  The work of these dedicated volunteers is why this trail has come to be revered by all of HRM.

     Great for a stroll or jog, and ideal as part of an extensive bike ride on its compacted crusher-dust surface.  Be sure to have a bicycle bell, as it can be busy during peak times.

1) Long Lake Provincial Park

Long Lake Provincial Park Halifax

  • 2000 Hectare, urban wilderness park.
  • 5km “Lakeview Trail”.
  • Public (non-motorized) boat launch.
  • On-site kayak & paddleboard rentals.

MapGuide | Virtual Tour

     Only a 15-minute drive from downtown Halifax it’s the only one of the destinations accessible by public transit.  At just over 3km, Long Lake lives up to its name.  Beyond the large lake lies 2000 hectares of wilderness.  The easily accessible 5km “Lakeview Trail” loop offers a large, wide crusher dust pathway making it inviting to all.  Other features including a public paddling launch and on-site rentals keep Long Lake as the reigning most popular outdoor destination for 2 years in a row according to 2020 website traffic.

     It’s easy to see why Long Lake is the #1 most popular destination.  Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll, a challenging wilderness hike, a bike ride or a swim, Long Lake has plenty of room for adventures of all kinds.  There are many rugged, unmarked trails, nooks, and new discoveries to made with every visit.

     A very popular swimming destination in summer with plenty of spots to lay your towel, it even has a marked, measured 2.5km open water swim course for anyone looking to do some high-level swim training.

     Accessible via 3 separate parking areas including year-round access via St. Margaret’s Bay Road (un-marked nature trails & lake access).  A  large main parking area off of Northwest Arm Drive connects to the Lakeview Trail and paddling launch area.  A small, gated auxiliary parking area off of Old Sambro road is for access to boat rentals and the paddling launch (closed in winter).


One reply on “Top 5 Most Popular Parks & Trails Near Halifax, Nova Scotia”

Love your site overall, and this is super to remind me of gorgeous places close by! Yay, people finding and enjoying our beatuiful outdoors! Thank you.

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