Tag Archives: hiking

Jacob’s ladder is a popular and well-known part of Victoria Park. The 175-steps are great for avid exercisers and those looking to venture to other areas of the park.

Explore Victoria Park, Truro

Guest column, Emily Hiltz

Every time I journey through Victoria Park, I find myself thinking about how unbelievably fortunate the residents of Truro and Colchester County are to have such a beautiful park in their midst. While walking on the trails, I often expect to see Bambi emerge from the thicket or Snow White whistling through the trees. A walk in Victoria Park feels like you have been magically transported into another time and place.

Nestled in the Southeast corner of Truro, Victoria Park was established in 1887 when 25 acres of land were given to the town by local resident Susan Waddell Stevens for the creation of a public park. Today, the approximately 1,000 acres of land are considered one of Truro’s greatest treasures. Along with two rugged waterfalls, countless trails and well-known Jacob’s Ladder – the 175-step stairway – the park also includes an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, a little league ballfield, playground, bandshell and picnic area. The park’s enchanted interior includes unique geological formations in the gorge and river bed areas and soaring hard and softwood trees on the cliffs and forest area.

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The park was named ‘Colchester’s Best Family Outing’ 2015 by the Truro and Colchester Chamber of Commerce.

Victoria Park is a unique gem, regardless of the season. In the summer, runners, hikers and families can be found enjoying a picnic in the park’s breathtaking scenery. In the winter, it’s a popular spot for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

The park’s trails range from lengthy routes for those interested in an afternoon trek to shorter walks for people who enjoy a short stroll. Signs are set up in different areas of the park to help visitors find their way, as well as highlight the lengths of the nearby trails and their terrain. Some trails, like the favored Wood Street Lookoff are picturesque and offer a rare view of the town and the Salmon River, while many other trails are perfect for birdwatchers and nature lovers alike.

A short walk into the park on the lower trail along Lepper Brook will take a visitor past the Holy Well Gazebo – a popular spot for wedding photos – Jacob’s ladder, and eventually the Joseph Howe Falls, which were named for Howe after he admired them on a visit in 1830. A couple sets of stairs takes the visitor to the Waddell Falls, which are named after the park’s original donor of land.

Cyclists are welcome in the park, but are urged to stay on hard-surface trails to prevent damage to environmentally sensitive areas of the park and yield to pedestrians.

If you’re going to be visiting the park, make sure to check out the Town of Truro website (www.truro.ca) for public activities or events coinciding with your visit. In the summer, there are often day camps for children in the park and swimming lessons at the pool. On occasion, there is also music and entertainment in the bandshell area. In the winter, there are sometimes guided walks through the park’s trails. In addition, cross-country skis, poles and snowshoes can be rented from the Truro Parks, Recreation and Culture offices.

If you will be passing through Truro in the near future, I strongly suggest placing Victoria Park as a priority on your must see list of places to visit.

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Article and photographs by Emily Hiltz a freelance journalist.

Celtic Shores Coastal Trail

Celtic Shores Coastal Trail

 

Hikers, bikers, snow shoe, cross country ski and outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail which runs 94 Km from the Canso Causeway along the west coast of Cape Breton Island to Inverness.

The varied terrain runs along the coast from Port Hastings to Port Hood with spectacular ocean views and on a clear day you can see Prince Edward Island or across the Canso Strait to the mainland of Nova Scotia. At Port Hood the trail heads inland around Mabou, dipping past Lake Ainslie and on to Inverness and back to the ocean.

This is a great year round trail that you can enjoy in every season. The route passes through meadows, farmland, woods and marshes with all the seasonal variety. The trail is built on the bed of old railway tracks so it is relatively level.  It is made up of five linked community trails.

Celtic Shores trail-7917

There is easy access to the trail from Highway 19, the Ceilidh Trail. Well marked signs and parking areas with interpretive signage that describe the history of the area and nearby communities, the industries and people, and how the trail was built. The trail is made up of five linked community trails and is part of the Trans Canada Trail. A detailed map is available at the Visitor Information Centre at the Canso Strait and online.

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In addition to the interpretive signage, the signs for mileage and amenities make it easy for you to find nearby food, accommodations and sights of interest. While you travel the trail take some side trips and enjoy a ceilidh and lunch at the Judique Celtic Music Centre, stop for lunch in Port Hood or Mabou, swim at the many beaches that you find along the way.   In Inverness see the old coal mining company houses, enjoy a meal and watch the golfers at the famous Cabot Links. The boardwalk runs along between the 3 KM sandy beach and the golf course along the dunes.

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Pomquet Day Trip

 

This article was originally published in The Casket Exploring Pomquet. The Casket June 18, 2015 http://www.thecasket.ca/archives/45730. This edition contains more photos and maps.

Relax or swim on a sandy beach, browse fashions, enjoy an Acadian lunch and hike through woodsy trails all in beautiful rural Pomquet, Nova Scotia. Just 12 minutes from Antigonish turn off on the Taylors Road exit from Hwy 104 to Pomquet and within minutes you are enjoying a country road with views of Pomquet harbour, rolling green hills and bird song.

The tiny Acadian community of Pomquet, overlooks the Northumberland Shore between Monk’s Head and Pomquet Harbour. This rich area of bay, harbours, islands and forest was for centuries the home of the Mi’kmaq and then settled by French settlers in the late 1700s.

Pomquet map

Pomquet map

From Taylors Road, take the left turn to L’Église Ste. Croix (Holy Cross Church) built in 1863. Genealogy buffs will find gravestones from the 1800s and the Pomquet Museum located just north of the church with historical photographs and genealogical information (Call 902-386-2679).

Continue on and turn right to Pomquet Beach Provincial Park, a peaceful long (3 KM) sandy stretch of beach on the Northumberland Shore. This is one of the best swimming beaches in the area and during the summer is supervised by lifeguards. Boardwalks lead up to the beach through the dunes and sea grasses. Enjoy a beach walk with the fresh salty air and the gulls above and a view of Cape Breton on a clear day, or beach comb for shells, stones and drift wood. Some areas are protected for the Piping Plover nesting sites. Facilities include change houses and washrooms.

Follow the wooden boardwalk trails from the beach parking lot with interpretive signs on the history, geology, plants and animals of this area. The grasses and plants found on the sand dunes are well adapted to the salt environment. The boardwalk protects the undergrowth and provides an easy view of blueberries, cranberries, beach mosses and grasses.

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Back on Monks Head road – continue on to Chez DesLauriers situated on a hill above Monk’s Bay, with a spectacular view of Pomquet Beach and harbour. The heritage home was built in the 1860s. Enjoy a home cooked Acadian lunch on Fridays during the summer. Learn about the geology and history of the area in the Interpretive Centre.

Behind Chez DesLauriers, wander to the top of the hill behind the house and well-marked signs point the way to the Acadian Trail, a 6KM series of loop trails along the meadow cliff, through the forest with mossy and well-kept paths, and along the shore. Bring along your nature guide books to identify mushrooms, mosses, trees and birds. The inland trail weaves through forests of various ages, including 100-150 year old pine trees, and views of Cape Breton Island in the distance.

Retrace your drive to the Taylor Road intersection and continue on to visit The Old Barn Gallery & Boutique to find hand selected one-of-a kind designer fashions, handbags, fun art and antique dishes. You will get lots of decorator ideas and you can enjoy cookies and tea on the patio. The Boutique recently was awarded a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.

Be sure to bring water, snacks or a picnic lunch, sunscreen, bug spray, and your sense of adventure.

Directions

  • Exit Highway 104 on Taylors Road between Exits 35 and 36. 10 minutes from Antigonish, 40 minutes from the Canso Causeway.
  • Or Exit from the 104 Highway on the Upper Pomquet Road across from the St. Andrew’s sign. Closest exit for Melanson Rd and the Old Barn Gallery and Boutique.

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Fortress of Louisbourg

7 Fun Things to do in Louisbourg

 

 

There is so much to see and enjoy in Louisbourg plan on staying for 2-3 days if possible. Some of these suggestions are seasonal. Please check the website links for details of hours and specifics.

  1. Fortress of Louisbourg

Of course the Fortress of Louisbourg is the main attraction in Louisbourg. Give yourself at least 4-5 hours. There is so much to explore in the various houses and buildings. Talk to the people in their period costumes. You will hear stories and recounting of events and how people lived in 1744. Take one of their mini tours – check on the website or at the desk for what is available on the day you are there. The rebuilt fortress covers a large area so wear good walking shoes and bring your water bottle. Each season of the year has different types of activities. The “shoulder season” in the fall is a great time to visit with fewer crowds and more chance to ask questions. Parks Canada Website – National Historic Site Fortress of Louisbourg http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/ns/louisbourg/visit.aspx

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  1. Hike the Lighthouse Trail

The Louisbourg Lighthouse is the first lighthouse in Canada and the 2nd in all of North America. The trail is in various lengths and winds along the coast with terrific views of cliffs, cormorants, waves and a variety of vegetation and geology. The path is well maintained and just a few ups and downs. There are several hiking trails around Louisbourg https://www.facebook.com/pages/Louisbourg-Lighthouse-Coastal-Trail/573458949340263

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  1. Eat Lobster

The Lobster Kettle restaurant in down town Louisbourg serves a whole lobster in a cute presentation. The lobster is delicious and a lovely setting on the deck overlooking the harbour. There is also inside seating if the weather is not great and other choices on the menu. http://www.lobsterkettle.com/

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  1. Railroad Museum

The Sydney & Louisburg Railway Museum is on your right just as you are driving into town. Learn more about the relationship of the railway and marine trade and transport in 1895 hauling coal. Train buffs will love this and it brings the era to life through models, photos and artifacts. http://www.novascotiarailwayheritage.com/louisbourg.htm

  1. Louisbourg Playhouse

This performing arts center offers a variety of entertainers, musicians, plays. Check for programme details http://louisbourgplayhouse.ca/

  1. Beach trip

This beach is worth the 25 minute drive from Louisbourg along the Marconi Trail. I was really taken with the beach at Main A Dieu – a network of boardwalks through the seagrass and then a beautiful wide and long sandy beach. http://www.whatsgoinon.ca/cape-breton-beach-bum-adventures-main-a-dieu-beach/#.VCHXaRbP_sk

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  1. Historical Dinner – The Beggar’s Banquet

Dine in 18th Century Style with delicious selection of lobster, crab, fish or chicken. This is an experience – not just a dinner. Dining room of Point of View Suites http://www.louisbourgpointofview.com/dining/

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Where to Stay

  • Point of View Suites. Beautiful location right on the coast with a view from the Fortress and across the bay to the Louisbourg Lighthouse. Spacious suites most furnished with a kitchen which makes it easy to stay a while and enjoy the area. http://www.louisbourgpointofview.com/
  • Cranberry Cove Inn. Easy to spot this place with its beautiful cranberry color and heritage house look. http://www.cranberrycoveinn.com
  • RV Park & Campground. On the main street of Louisbourg close to the boardwalk.  http://louisbourg.com/motorhomepark/
  • More Louisbourg accommodations on Trip Advisor http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Tourism-g499217-Louisbourg_Cape_Breton_Island_Nova_Scotia-Vacations.html

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Enjoy an Acadian Lunch in Pomquet

 

 

Pockets of Acadian life are found throughout Nova Scotia. Pomquet is a small village just 20 min from Antigonish and just off the Trans Canada. It has a strong community spirit and beautiful setting.

You can enjoy an authentic Acadian Lunch at Chez DesLauriers in Pomquet village during the summer months. Every week has a different menu which you can find posted on their website. http://www.pomquet.net/en/chezdeslauriers.html

The setting is spectacular with Chez DesLauriers, a white heritage home on Monk’s Head having a view over St. George’s Bay and Pomquet Beach with a view to Cape Breton. Old photographs and antique home items provide the décor in the tea room. There is lively atmosphere from visitors and locals enjoying the food and company.   We enjoyed a great lunch of Fricot or Pate’ – both traditional Acadian dishes that I remember from my childhood.

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Next door the Interpretive Centre describes the history, geology and formation of the area and the people who have lived here and their way of life.   In the area behind the house the Pomquet Acadian Walking Trails are well marked and take you across the grassy cliffs with views of the ocean, wending through the forest, or down along the beach.

In August there are two special Lobster Roll dinners to look forward to.

Country Harbour

 

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Country Harbour River

When you hear the name Country Harbour in Nova Scotia you might think you are on the coast with fishing boats and the ocean waves.  However in driving from Monastry on highway 316 you see a sign for Country Harbour and then pass signs for Country Harbour Cross Roads, Country Harbour Mines, Middle Country Harbour, Country Harbour Ferry and still are miles from the ocean.

Country Harbour is a 10 mile long deep inlet from the sea on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia.  It is not only beautiful but has an interesting past.

SeaWind Landing comfortable accomdations great dining

A great place to stay and use as an exploration point is the Seawind Landing Country Inn in Charlos Cove.  The 20 acre grounds has interesting paths through the forest or along the shore are great for an evening or early morning stroll.  The food is superb, prepared with loving care from local ingredients by the innkeeper.  There is a choice of comfortable rooms near the shore with the sound of the waves – or rooms with a view to the east or west from your 2nd floor porch.

The Seawind Landing Country Inn is a 30 minute drive from Drum Head at the mouth of Isaacs Harbour and  Country Harbour.  Stop along the way at the lovely Tor Bay Provincial Park and enjoy the boardwalk through the trees and over marshes and mosses.   Seabirds nest on offshore islands – great for birdwatchers.  Continue along Hwy 316 to Isaacs Harbour and take the turn off to the Country Harbour Ferry.  This 12 car cable operated ferry takes you across Country Harbour to continue down along the coast through Port Bickerton towards Halifax on Hwy 211. Even if you decide not to take the ferry it is fun to watch it make the crossing.  Signs are posted at the turnoff informing if the ferry is operating or not.

Empire Loyalist Trail

This part of the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia was the closest part of North America for the early ships from Europe. The long protected harbour was a welcome relief from the open sea.  The discovery of gold in the area was another draw to the area. From the 1600s the area was alive with ship building, forestry, small farming, fishing and gold mining.

Country Harbour was also settled by Loyalists from the King’s Carolina Rangers and the South Carolina Royalists who left Florida in October 1783, landed in Halifax and then the settlers went on to Country Harbour.  The United Empire Loyalist 2.2 KM trail has interpretive signs giving the history of the settlers.

Salsman Park Golden Sunrise

Salsman Provincial Park is located on a small peninsula on the east side of Country Harbour near Middle Country Harbour.  From June to September the park offers campers a quiet setting to relax and enjoy the area.  The camp ground is situated on an island connected by a short causeway giving lovely views of the water and hills.  On an early November morning the sunrise over Country Harbour was memorable with its golden glow and reflections in the calm water.

The nearby Loonsong Cottage Retreat offers workshops and retreats for women on a variety of topics.  Check their website for calendar of events.

Country Harbour River offers fishing and exploring.  The rural farms and cottages enjoy spectacular views in fall with the changing leaf colors.

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Hike the Acadian Trail

The Pomquet Acadian Trail and Chez Deslaurier

Acadian Trail - Wildflowers

Colorful Wildflowers on the Acadian Trail

This October day was a perfect day for a hike with crisp clean air, deep blue sky with spectacular ocean views from a grassy meadow high above the ocean looking over St. George’s Bay and a view of Cape Breton in the distance.   The sunlight shone on fields of wild flowers in purples, yellows, golds, reds and orange with even a few butterflies and dragon flies humming around.

Chez Deslaurier is a tea house set in an old farm house on high ground, not

Chez Deslauriers

Chez Deslauriers – Pomquet

far from Pomquet.  This is an Acadian French area of Nova Scotia where French is spoken and Acadian traditions are still celebrated.

From the farm house you overlook Monk’s Head and a series of islands and islets and Pomquet Beach.  With the sun and cloud playing over the land and the sea you could sit for hours and watch the changes in the light and shadow.

Behind the farm house several old farm implements are set off in the grassy meadow.   Keep walking along the grassy track with the water to your right and you will come to the trail head for the “Acadian Trail”.

Pomquet Acadian Trail

Pomquet Acadian Trail – Map

The trail is well marked and has maps of the area with a choice of several loop trails. The trails wind  through a variety of natural areas. Numbered markers along the trails are linked to a self-guided interpretive brochure, available at Chez Deslauriers.  The walking is easy and suitable for families.  A longer trail continues along the water and along Monks Head.

The first part of the trail is along an old cart road through a grassy meadow

Acadian Trail

Acadian Trail

area.  In fall this was thick with wild flowers of all colors – Queen Anne’s Lace, wild roses, clover, daisies, asters and grasses.  Off to the right were the views of the deep blue ocean below and towards Cape Breton.    This grassy trail is along the cliff top with open fields and hedged with evergreens and the occasional fruit tree.

The path then descends with a choice of going to the right down to the beach.  We took the left fork which heads down into a beautiful forest area with a well kept trail.  There were many varieties of mosses in greens with patches of reds,

Acadian Trail Forest Path

Acadian Trail Forest Path

evergreens and many types of mushrooms.     The light filtering through the forest was cool and inviting and great for exploring.   This is a great place to go with your camera and bring along a book about trees or mosses.  You will definitely find lots to investigate.

A left turn at a small pond takes you back to the open old farm land and leads back up to the Chez Deslaurier house in a circle route.  The whole short loop route took less than an hour.    You can easily spend a day in the area exploring the different trails or head down to Pomquet Beach.

The Chez Deslauriers property is maintained and administered by the

Mushrooms and Mosses

Mushrooms and Mosses

Pomquet Development Society, a volunteer organization aimed at promoting the Acadian culture and encouraging tourism in the community.  According to Collette Rennie of the Pomquet Development Society,  “The trails are open year-round. [The Society] will be performing maintenance on these trails before the summer ‘walking’ season as winter along the coast can create much damage. The tearoom will be open each Friday beginning on July 8 from 11 AM to 2 PM.  We serve a different traditional homemade Acadian meal each Friday, along with traditional Acadian meatpie ($8 per meal). “

Chez Deslauriers Tea Houase

Chez Deslauriers Tea House and Interpretive Centre

“The interpretive centre will be open during those times as well. As well, we will have two lobster roll dinners during the summer – on August 14 and September 11. Both will be from 3-6 PM and include local entertainment, BBQ and a delicious lobster roll meal. The interpretive centre will be available to visitors as well during these two events. This information will soon be posted on our website.” (http://www.pomquet.net/en/trails.html )

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How to get there

To get to  Pomquet, take either Exit 35 or 36 north off Highway 104.  Then turn right at the north end of Monk’s Head Road and follow the gravel road for approximately 1.5 km.  It is approximately a 25 minute drive from Antigonish or 40 minutes from the Canso Causway if you are coming from Cape Breton.

Antigonish to Chez DesLaurier


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