Walking where very few people have walked before is an adventure in the truest sense of the word.
In 2009, Jim Foster and two friends made a four-day trek through one of the most remote areas of Cape Breton. On this 50-kilometre hike from Meat Cove on the northern tip of Cape Breton to Pollett’s Cove on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, they encountered hidden waterfalls, steep valleys, old-growth forests, spectacular coastal views and no shortage of wildlife.
“There was a real sense of exploration,” Foster recalls. “It wasn’t an easy hike. Other than hunters, I would guess that not a lot of people have been through there.”
Future hikers may have an easier time of it. A group is now working to develop the Seawall Trail, a proposed multi-day hiking trail along these coasts and cliffs of northern Cape Breton.
While the Seawall Trail will be on the challenging end of the spectrum, Nova Scotia has hiking adventures for enthusiasts of all ages, interests and skill levels.
“We have everything from the nice, flat rail trails, all the way to rugged, steep paths in Cape Breton, the Fundy shore and Cape Chignecto,” says Janet Barlow, the executive director of Hike Nova Scotia.
There are coastal hikes with breathtaking views, woodland hikes that wrap around lakes and streams and groomed trails with crushed gravel. There are community group trails and trails that run through municipal, provincial and national parks, as well as on private land.
“Hiking in Nova Scotia really offers a beautiful mix,” Barlow says. “There are some very challenging hikes, but then there are trails that are very accessible.”
Cape Split in the Annapolis Valley is just one example of a beautiful coastal hike, attracting some 40,000 visitors per year. A look-off on the tip of the peninsula offers a spectacular coastal view.
Hike Nova Scotia is a non-profit organization that promotes a growing hiking culture throughout the province.
“We’re the voice of those who hike, walk and snowshoe,” Barlow says. “Volunteers are incredibly important to the entire hiking system in Nova Scotia.”
Safety should be a top priority when hiking, especially as more people than ever are venturing out into Nova Scotia’s wilderness.
“If you’re brand new to hiking, then a steep 15-kilometre hike on a hot day may not be the best way to begin,” says Barlow. Hike Nova Scotia is offering a monthly webinar that introduces people to hiking.
“It offers information for novice hikers on how to prepare, what to wear and bring and how to conduct yourself on the trails,” Barlow says. “Self-care and being aware of your own limitations are really important. We want everyone to have a safe experience.”
For more information, visit hikenovascotia.ca.