Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult (Navigation/Terrain).
Setting: Lake, granite outcrops, wooded trails.
Un-marked trails, part of the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area.
Scenic look-off is a great spot for a swim.
Top-notch wilderness experience minutes from downtown.
Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Wilderness Area is Halifax’s newest and most extensive wilderness protection project. It is also Canada’s largest urban park. It is in the process of being maintained and marked. There are a few entry points into this area, one of which is behind Kent Building Supplies in Bayers Lake, leading to Susies Lake. Another is in the Kingswood subdivision leading to Blue Mountain.
Susies Lake is best accessed behind Kent Building Supplies. They aren’t fond of people using their parking lot so I can’t recommend you park there, but if you look around you will find spots to park where you won’t be infringing on anyone else.
As soon as you enter the main trailhead you will wonder if you’re trespassing or going the wrong way, as is the case with a lot of great hiking spots in Nova Scotia. Look for the bright yellow “Wilderness Area” signs that are posted on trees as an indication you are on a trail. Once you’re acclimated, it’s not too difficult to figure out where the trail is.
The map on this page shows the easiest routes to follow and doesn’t require a compass or GPS, but I have taken some wrong turns trying to get to the Susies Lake lookoff before so you do have to pay attention to where you’re going.
The huge granite look-off is an ideal spot to sit and relax. Sunsets are amazing and barring any wrong turns, you can get back to the parking lot before it’s pitch black (takes about 15 minutes).
There are several fairly well-packed trails and many more deer trails. Exploring these paths does require navigation equipment and skills (though you can always use the lake for guidance.. The many lakes, hills and rock formations that make up the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Wilderness Area make for great discoveries. It is mind-boggling that this place akin to Kejimkujik National Park exists in the middle of the city.
This guide is meant to offer an entry point, but please keep in mind this is UNDEVELOPED nature and is meant to be protected and preserved as is! (despite being encroached upon by development).
Recommended Reading: “Geology of Nova Scotia: Field Guide”