The seasons are changing, and fall brings new hiking aesthetics to the province of Nova Scotia. Every season has its own pros and cons for hiking, and the following trails accentuate the positives. The hikes all have beautiful fall colours to see, they take you past a variety of scenery, and they’re either close to civilization so you can make a quick exit if it’s cold, or deep into the woods to make a full fall escape. The hikes are listed alphabetically by county.
1. Keppoch Mountain
Keppoch Mountain in Antigonish is home to a wide variety of activities. It has an extensive trail system for walking/hiking at different levels, and it even has a couple of trails that are wheelchair accessible. If hiking isn’t everyone’s thing, don’t worry. There’s a myriad of other activities at Keppoch to enjoy, from disc golf to mountain biking, so you can plan a day packed with outdoor activities for everyone.
Address: 193 Keppoch Road, Beaver Meadow
2. Harvest Moon Trailway
It’s getting into Harvest time, so what better trail to hike than the Harvest Moon Trailway? The trail is 100 km in total, stretching from Annapolis Royal to Grand Pré, which is no doubt a bit too far for one day. However, it’s got multiple trailheads and access points, so you can pick and choose where you want to get on and off. You’ll pass through several communities along the way, so take a break to explore some farmer’s markets, local wineries, u-picks, and more.
3. Beaver Mountain Provincial Park
Antigonish’s Beaver Mountain Provincial Park gives you incredible views of Antigonish and across the Northumberland Strait to Cape Breton. The trail system is varied, with some shorter paved walkways and some unpaved hill hikes, so you can choose whatever you feel like doing that day. There are picnic areas and water taps within the park, so you can bring a backpack with snacks and a water bottle and enjoy your day on the mountain.
Address: 472 Beaver Mountain Road
4. Baille Ard Trails
A straightforward hiking park close to downtown Sydney, Baille Ard Trails offers a chance to explore Acadian forest. The trails are all reasonably flat, and there are a variety of trail lengths if you want to take a specific route. You’ll see plenty of flora and fauna, and the website actually provides some activity sheets for the little ones. Surrounded by trees and crossing brooks, it’s the perfect fall afternoon excursion.
Address: Cottage Road or Terrace Street behind Sherwood Park Education Centre, Sydney
5. Coxheath Hills Trail
If you’re in Cape Breton County and you’re looking for a more challenging hike, Coxheath Hills Trail is a great option. The trailhead is in Sydney, but it quickly takes you into nature, with sightings of bald eagles, waterfalls, and stunning views to enjoy. The first part of the trail is quite steep, and after that your path choices run from moderate to difficult, so you can choose your own adventure.
County: Cape Breton
Address: 1580 Coxheath Road, Sydney
6. Amherst Point Migratory Bird Sanctuary Trail
Fall is a major migration time of year in Nova Scotia, so where better to experience it than the Amherst Point Migratory Bird Sanctuary Trail? The trail itself is 2.5 km long, a reasonable afternoon walk, and there’s a picnic area on a hill overlooking Laytons Lake towards the end. Check your favourite bird book for the best times to come and see birds rise from the trees and take flight. If you enjoy your fall walk, come back in the winter to see the birds who stay in Nova Scotia all year round.
Address: Southampton Road off Highway 104 exit #3
7. Ward Falls Trail
Waterfalls have ‘fall’ in their name, so it’s only right that there are a few waterfall-centric trails on this list. Ward Falls Trail is an interesting example, as you head through a valley to a forest and then down the river to the falls. There is a bridge partway down the Diligent River, so you can cross to see the falls from a different angle. At 6km, this trail is great for a day trip. Just make sure you bring shoes that are fine with getting wet!
Address: Highway 209 from Parrsboro, 100 m pass the second bridge
8. Acacia Valley Trails
There are certainly acacia trees in Acacia Valley, but there’s so much more to see than just the trees. The trails in this valley range from wheel chair accessible to deeper wood. You’ll find a bog, a picnic rock, a waterfall, and lots of different trees and wildlife along the way. This is another place to revisit in the winter, especially if you like cross-country skiing!
Address: Mill Road (see site for full driving instructions)
9. Lundy Fire Tower Trail
The brilliant colours of fall tend towards the warm side of the colour wheel, so it’s appropriate that the Lundy Fire Tower gives you a great view of those colours. The hike is up a hill, but it’s not steep and there are places to take a break. At the top you’ll find the fire tower and a communication tower, as well as some granite boulders you can climb. Once at the top, you’ll be able to see an extraordinary view of the surrounding land and sea—in fact, if it’s a clear fall day you can see up to 50 km, a perfect way to experience the fiery beauty of fall.
Address: Directions at link
10. Stonewall Park
Stonewall Park is the perfect place to enjoy a fall afternoon. There are trails mainly geared towards beginners and families, so it’s a good way to help little ones blow off some steam. You’ll be able to see rapids, have a picnic, and see the handmade stone wall built many years ago. If you’re in the St. Mary’s area, get into nature at Stonewall Park.
Address: 8407 Highway 7, Sherbrooke
11. Burncoat Head Park
The power and majesty of the Bay of Fundy is evergreen, and fall is a great time to experience Burncoat Head Park. You won’t be swimming, but you can still walk for kilometres on the ocean floor at low tide. The park also has several hiking trails that are accessible at any time, along with a gorgeous beach walk. Whatever tide of day you come, you’re sure to have a magnificent experience of fall by the sea.
Address: 45 Faulkner Avenue
12. Bluff Wilderness Park
This park is a fine example of wilderness hiking, and it’s still quite close to Halifax! The trail has four loops, each with their own difficulties, and they’re fully in the backwoods. If you walk all four loops, you’ll walk 29 km. You’ll experience awesome fall colours, interesting terrain, and depending on the loop you’ll find some water features as well. Come prepared for a hiking adventure, which includes some overnight supplies just in case!
Address: 2890 Bay Road for the parking lot
13. Point Pleasant Park
Point Pleasant Park was hit hard by Hurricane Juan in 2003, but it has healed beautifully. Right at the end of the Halifax Waterfront, the trails in the park range from wide and easy to narrow and challenging. There are plenty of places to explore within the park from days gone by and more modern additions, and between the gorgeous evergreens and the fall colours it’s easy to forget you’re still in one of the biggest cities in the Maritimes.
Address: 5530 Point Pleasant Park Drive, Halifax
14. Celtic Shores Coastal Trail
Ah, Inverness County, home to so much natural beauty you could spend a lifetime experiencing it all. If you want to experience a brilliant stretch of the west coast of Cape Breton this fall, head for the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail. Like Harvest Moon, Celtic Shores is long-92 km from end to end. Also like Harvest Moon, Celtic Shores has plenty of places to get on and off and allows you to explore the vibrant communities along the way. Enjoy the crisp coastal air and enjoy fall in Cape Breton…you’ll probably fall in love.
15. Gypsum Mine Trail
If you just looked at pictures of Gypsum Mine Trail, you’d never believe it was once a thriving mine. Now nature has taken back the manmade, creating an almost unearthly beauty along the trail and around the quarry lake. It’ll probably be too cold to swim, but you can still enjoy the view of the lake with a rest stop by the lake for snacks.
Address: Cabot Trail, Cheticamp
16. Blomidon Look-Off Provincial Park
There are two Blomidon Parks with great views, but Blomidon Look-Off provides a five-county view on a clear day, so I think it wins. It’s a small park, so you can bring the whole crew for a walk and picnic. The view includes farmlands, forests, and part of the Bay of Fundy, so you can enjoy fall in all its forms. And if you’re looking for a longer hike, Blomidon Provincial park is only a 15 minute drive away (or a 2.5 hour walk if you’re very committed).
Cost: Free to visit, camping costs depend on season
Address: 3374 Highway 358, Arlington
17. Gaff Point
The Gaff Point hike begins on a beach, heads into the woods, and then out to the cliffs. Gaff Point gives you a chance to enjoy Hirtle’s Beach before you walk to the trailhead, and then again on your way back. It’s a 4 km hike on a loop, but you can choose which way to go first—you can either go coast then forest, or forest then coast. Whichever way you fancy, you’ll get to enjoy an afternoon in the meeting place of ocean and forest—a very Nova Scotian experience.
Address: Hirtle’s Beach, Kingsburg
18. Fitzpatrick Mountain
This trail is a fascinating adventure up and down a mountain. It’s an 8km trek in total, so make sure to build in time for a picnic just below the summit. The trail passes over a brook, through the forest, and past the remnants of old homesteads. The Fitzpatrick Mountain Trail is also part of the longer Cape to Cape Trail, so if you’re looking for a longer adventure you should check out the full website.
Address: New Road Road, Scotsburn
19. Johnny Miles Memorial Trail
Named for a runner who won the Boston Marathon twice, the Johnny Miles Memorial Trail is a lovely place to enjoy fall at a quicker pace. It’s a 1.5 km gravel trail that winds through the woods, but starts within New Glasgow, so it’s easy to come out and get hot food and drink if it gets cooler than expected (or if it rains). You can go further afield if you want though, as this trail connects to two others (Thorburn Spur Rail Line and Pioneer Trail). Whatever speed you choose, this is a pleasant trail that lets you enjoy exercise in the fall.
Address: East River Road, New Glasgow
20. Dwight Crouse Memorial Trail
This trail was named for Dwight Crouse, who was a big part of the Queens Rails to Trails Association. The trail connects with others in the Queens area, but it’s a great outing in itself. Since it was once a railway, the terrain is mainly flat and can be used for multiple purposes, so if you enjoy it by foot you should come back by bike! At 16.4 km, it’s quite the walk, but if you’ve got good walking shoes and a free day, experiencing fall along the whole trail is a real treat.
Address: Brooklyn, Queens
21. Cape Auguet Eco-Trail
This is a fascinating hike in Richmond County, partly because you go through so many ecosystems in so little time. It takes about 4 hours to go there and back again, and along the way you’ll encounter dunes, forests, beaches, lagoons, and more. There are plenty of places to relax and take it all in along the trail, which makes it good for day trips with beginner hikers. Thanks to its ecosystem diversity, you’ll see an equal diversity of birds, marine life, and flora, so make sure to take pictures!
Address: Boudreauville, Isle Madame
22. Barrington Bay to Wood’s Harbour Trail
This trail has a long name, but it’s accurate, so I will let it slide. At 12.6 km, it’s definitely a day trip, and the scenery makes it worth it. Connected to other trails in the area, the trail hugs the coast, providing that ‘best of both worlds’ experience of fall beauty. If you enjoy the trail, be sure to check out the other trails in Shelburne, as they nearly all connect to each other, and give you a great look at the beauty in this county.
Address: Highway 330, Barrington Passage
23. Uisge Ban Falls
Gaelic for ‘white water’ this trail takes you through the woods of Baddeck out to the waterfall. It’s a level trail that takes you through different kinds of forests and into the valley. There’s a picnic spot for lunch or an early supper, and it’s close to Baddeck itself so if you want to warm up before or after it takes just a few minutes to return to the town. With the variety of trees framing the trail, you’re sure to get a multicoloured fall view.
Address: 715 North Branch Road, Baddeck Forks
24. Wedgeport Nature Trail
Most trails include being in nature, but Wedgeport Nature Trail puts the focus on experiencing all of nature. The 5.4km of loops will show off ponds, the forest, marshes, and more, with corresponding wildlife viewing experiences. If you come later in the day, you’ll be able to see something even more special. Part of a UNESCO Starlight tourist certified area, you can come out here and take in the fall constellations at their wheelchair-accessible viewing platform.
Address: Tuna Wharf Road, Wedgeport
25. UNESCO Southwest Nova Biosphere
This Biosphere, also known as the Tobeatic Wilderness, is a critically important area to Nova Scotia, and experiencing it firsthand will show you what wonders it protects. There are some manmade trails within the Biosphere, particularly close to Trout Point Lodge, but there’s lots of chances for backcountry hiking and camping too. Immerse yourself in the wilderness in the fall and learn about nature’s rhythms for the flora and fauna in the Biosphere.
Cost: Depends if you’re staying at the lodge
Address: Driving directions at this link