Fall in Nova Scotia is the perfect time to get out there into the wilderness and go for a hike. Given Nova Scotia’s natural beauty, you are literally spoiled for choice as to where you should hike.Just you, a backpack, (hopefully) a camera, and the open trail.
Therefore, to try and help you narrow your choices down, here are a list of 25 hikes in Nova Scotia that you have to try.
1: The Skyline Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Length: 9.2km loopThe Skyline Trail is one of the jewels of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park — though there are many jewels, for hikers, this 9.2km loop trail is perhaps the jewel in the crown of Nova Scotia. This trail follows a wooden boardwalk out to the cliff face, making a beautiful and perfect sunset hike, if you set off just after lunch, you’ll make it with plenty of time to spare to watch the sun wave goodbye to the day over the cliffs of Cape Breton. The trail isn’t particularly challenging, as it is all on wooden boardwalk with little elevation change along the way. Easy, fun and beautiful. A perfect start to our list.
2: Cape Split Trail, Cape Split
Length: 8km one-way, 16km return.
Cape Split is located off the coast of Nova Scotia in the Bay of Fundy. Though isolated from the mainland, it’s still a popular hiking spot for tourists and locals alike. Cape Split provides three-hundred and sixty-degree views of the Bay of Fundy and the sea beyond. The Cape Split trail is not a particularly challenging trail, though only for the terrain, which can be a bit muddy in the Spring and wetter Fall months. You’ll be surrounded by natural beauty in every direction, as when in the forestry, the trees will be turning beautifully, creating canopies of oranges, yellows and reds. Due to the length of the trail, you should allot yourself at least five hours to complete the trip, so it’s best to make it a full day’s hike, so that you can take your time and enjoy it.
3: Gaff Point, Lunenburg
Length: 7km loop
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Nestled against a backdrop of Nova Scotia’s historic port community of Lunenburg lies Gaff Point, a beachhead loop trail which is maintained by the local community. Gaff Point trail loops around the shoreline of Hirtle’s Beach, with the beginning of the trail cutting through dense birch woodland, you’re sure to find the beauty of fall on Nova Scotia’s coast, as the birch leaves will likely be many shades of orange, red and yellow. Even when the trail cuts out to the coast after the first kilometre or so, you’ll still see the beauty of fall as the trail laps the beach and sea. At a 7km loop, it’s a good few hours of hiking, so you should plan to set off around noon and should return around supper time, preferably in Lunenburg, which has spectacular seafood! Gaff Point is a fantastic trail to experience hiking on Nova Scotia’s South Shore.
4: Clyburn Valley Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Back to the Cape Breton Highlands we go! This time, it’s the eight kilometre walk through the wilderness that is the Clyburn Valley Trail. The trail is built on an old gold mine, there are large boulders which line the trail — perfect for those traveling with young kids! Hiking an old gold mine? What fun! The trail dips in and out of woodland along the Clyburn River and in the fall, the tree leaves changing colour offer stunning views. The Gold Mine itself is marked by an appropriately-named sign ‘Gold Mine’ – it’s now an emergency with a logbook for thru-hikers — be sure to leave your own message in there! The Cape Breton Highlands are a prominent feature in any Nova Scotia hiking guide, and with good reason — the Clyburn Valley Trail is the ‘golden goose’ of the Highlands.
5: Liberty Lake Trail, Kejimkujik National Park
Length: 12km loop
Kejimkujik National Park is home to a great many wonderful hiking trails. Being one of three national parks in the province, it has a lot to live up to — with Cape Breton Highlands and Sable Island for competition. But it does it brilliantly, especially with it’s Liberty Lake Trail. This three-quarter circumnavigation of Liberty Lake provides all of the spectacular scenery that you can imagine — dense forestry with fantastic colours in the fall, and a long, exercise-inducing hike to get the blood pumping.
6: Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail, Cape Chignecto Provincial Park
This is the longest hike on our list. It will take you at least four days to complete, traveling at a normal walking pace. However, a coastal loop of Cape Chignecto is not to be missed. Even if you take a week’s vacation and complete this hike and only this hike, then it will have been worth your while. The loop encircles the Cape itself and provides stopping points to admire the view with the myriad beaches interspersed throughout the trek. The trek itself, due in part to it’s length, is physically challenging, so bear that in mind. You’ll be climbing high and over rocky terrain to get up to look-out points and the aforementioned sandy beaches. Bring enough supplies for five days, and of course, your camera to take in the beauty of Cape Chignecto. Trail Map
7: Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail, Timberlea
The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail in Timberlea is very different from the seaside trails of the more coastal regions mentioned above — while it runs alongside Cranberry Lake and Pot Lake, the trail itself is mostly inland, providing glorious views both high and low of the changing scenery, from the forest floor to the hills above the Lakes, spectacular views all around. At 32km, it is quite the hike and might take a day or three to complete in it’s entirety, though you could break it into sections and only hike a certain number of kilometres, if you’ve only a day to spare. You’re sure to betreated to Nova Scotian inland beauty either way. Trail Map
8: Pennant Point Trail, Crystal Crescent Beach
Length: 4.5km one-way
The Pennant Point Trail located at Crystal Crescent Beach is a perfect trail to get you in touch with the Nova Scotia beaches in the fall. The Pennant Point trail is divided into two parts, the first is the way out to Pennant Point — the second trail (another 4.7km) loops Pennant Point cove and then returns back on the other side of the land to the parking lot where the trailhead is located. Pennant Point Trail is a short-ish hike, even both ways will only take you a few hours, making it a great afternoon excursion at Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park. Trail Map
9: Herring Cove Trail, Halifax Regional Municipality
Length: 2.3km out-and-back
10: Polly’s Cove Trail, Halifax Regional Municipality
Length: 4km (one-way) OR 2km loop
Think of Polly’s Cove as the little sister to Peggy’s Cove. It is situated 2km from the entrance to Peggy’s Cove, if coming from Halifax. Easy to miss, you’re looking for a patch of dirt parking, possibly with other cars parked. Once you have found your way to the trailhead, there are two options — the first is a 2km loop trail, which takes you into the wilderness, then out along the coastline before turning back inland and meeting up with the second trail option… That second option is a straight 4km one-way through wooded areas, with several loops within this 4km route, drawing figure-eights right the way out to Barbara Basin. Regardless of which way you choose to go, you’ll be spoiled for natural beauty. The inland portions of the trail offer spectacular woodland, stunning in the Fall, whilst the outer-brim offers all the glory of the beaches and views of the sea and the islands beyond Polly’s Cove. Trail Map
11: Salt Marsh Trail, Dartmouth
The Salt Marsh Trail is perhaps one of Halifax Regional Municipality’s most well-known and well-loved trails. Stretching 8.7km, the trail was transformed into a recreational playground by Nova Scotia Tourism Board, having once been an old railroad, now it is an extremely popular multi-use trail — the trail is a relatively easy hike with good, flat terrain — however it is the diversity of scenery which makes the trail special. It meanders through salt marshes and gorgeous fall-season woodland beyond, before a boardwalk takes you across the waters of Cole Harbour, whilst out there, you have a three-hundred and sixty-degree view of the islands and mainland Nova Scotia — all gleaming with fall colours. There are several look out points along the trail, so be sure to bring your cameras! The Salt Marsh Trail makes for a beautiful fall day-hike in the Halifax area. Trail Map
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This is the beautiful Salt Marsh Trail in Cole Harbour 🌅 It's one of our TOP 5 Favourite Biking Trails in the area. Check out the link in our bio to find out what other trails are on the list and comment below to share your favourite places to go cycling in the region 🚴🏻♀️🚴🏽 🔗Top 5 Biking Trails in Halifax 📍 Salt Marsh Trail, Cole Harbour, NS 🚗 ~30 min drive from downtown Halifax 📷: @nathalie.dauteuil
12: The Headland Trail, Taylor Head Provincial Park
Length: 8km loop
The Headland Trail is a beautiful trail with a seaside view, cut out from dense forest undergrowth with intermittent open spots, allowing views of the Taylor Head Bay. Though you are always near the sea, the views along the cliffs and the forests that line the embankments are what can make for some truly stunning fall colours. Be sure to bring your camera and be ready to take awesome landscape shots! The trail can be challenging and th∆e footing sometimes uneven due to the rocky cliffs upon which the trail resides. Be aware and bring a good pair of hiking boots. Trail Map
13: Louisbourg Lighthouse Trail, Louisbourg National Historic Site
Length: 2km one-way
Near the National Historic Site of Louisbourg Fortress, the Louisbourg Lighthouse trail is a fantastic short hike from the lighthouse itself out to the coast. The trail runs fairly flat and is almost all on a boardwalk cut through the forested area before you reach the coastline. While it should only take you about half an hour to an hour, it’s well worth stopping to reach the many interpretive panels dotted throughout the trail, which explain in greater the area’s historical significance. Furthermore, you’ll get to enjoy the luscious scenery of the forest in the autumn’s change, and the glorious views that await you at the end of the trail, where the boardwalk meets the boulders and open sea. Trail Map
14: Jodrey Trail, Blomidon Provincial Park
The Jodrey Trail is located in Blomidon Provincial Park, providing you with spectacular views of the Minas Basin as you skirt the edge of cliffs that are six hundred feet high. Not only are you greeted with spectacular views of the Minas Basin, but beyond that are the sprawling forestry areas, all lined with brightly coloured trees. The trail itself winds through birch and beech trees, all in seasonal change mode — you’re surrounded with stunning colour and glorious views of the sea from the cliff tops. The Jodrey Trail is fairly challenging due to the at-times treacherous terrain and the 190m of elevation gain, but the climb is well worth it. Trail Map
15: Liscomb River Trail, Guysborough
Length: 9.7km loop
The Liscomb River skirts the Liscomb River on each side. It’s a gravel trail for the first two kilometers, after which you are greeted with a stunning view of Liscomb River thanks to two arm-chairs situated over a look-out point allowing you to take in the beauty of the churning water below and golden-coloured leaves of the trees which line the banks. At the mid-way point of the trail, you’ll come across a footbridge which overlooks a small waterfall, and a fish ladder which Atlantic Salmon use on their route down the Liscomb River. The other side of the river is just as beautiful — providing you with an opposite view of the same stunning views downstream of the gorgeous autumn colours lining the riverside. The Liscomb River Trail is a fantastic afternoon or even full-day trek to make in the middle of Fall. Trail Map
16: Point Pleasant Trail, Point Pleasant Park, HRM
The Point Pleasant Trail is one of Halifax’s most popular in-city trails in one of its most popular in-city parks. Located near the South End, Point Pleasant Park and Point Pleasant Trail offer you the best of nature in the city. The fall setting is perfect for photography, as the trail runs into many of the old British fortifications from the mid-19th century, when the Park was a military installation. Views of the mouth of Halifax Harbour are also not to be missed. The Point Pleasant Trail illustrates that natural beauty can be found in the busiest of Maritime cities. Trail Map
17: Black Duck Cove Trail, Eastern Shore
The Black Duck Cove trail is a short trail along Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore. It is comprised of boardwalks and earth trails with stunning views of Black Duck Cove and the gorgeous forests that surround the Cove. The trail is an easy enough hike, due to it’s low altitude, short distance and being well maintained. It also features a couple of rest stops with roofed shelters, making it a perfect afternoon hike with a rest stop or two for some snacks. Bring snacks, a camera and a good pair of hiking boots to take in the best of Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore. Trail Map
18: Port Joli Head, Kejimkujik National Park
Back to Kejimkujik National Park and we’ve got another beauty of a trail for you to hike! This time, it’s at the edge of Keji and Port Joli Head. The Port Joli Head trail skirts the seaside once again, but overlooks gorgeous meadows with sprawling fall-coloured trees to your left, and the open ocean to your right. The coastal forest plays host to white-tail deer — if you’re lucky, you might get a glimpse of some! The Port Joli Head trail is the perfect blend of the crashing sea and spectacular land-based views, particularly in the Fall. Trail Map
19: Slapfoot Trail, Kejimkujik National Park
20: Franey Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Length: 7.5km loop
The Franey Trail is up there with Cape Breton Highlands best hikes. It’s a climb up Franey Mountain through Acadian forestry comprised of spruce, fir and birch trees — all, by now, with their leaves changing from green to reds and yellows. Providing you with stunning colour as you climb Franey Mountain. Then we come to the ultimate prize for all your hard work: the view at the top. Some 1400 feet below you lies gorgeous boreal forestry and stunning views of the Clyburn Brook Canyon and the Atlantic Coastline. With more trees in fall bloom than you can count — it truly is a stunning view, well-earned after a hard hike. Trail Map
21: Acadian Trail, Cheticamp
Length: 10km loop
It’s a slow incline up French Mountain in the Cape Breton Highlands that makes up the 10 kilometre loop of the Acadian Trail. You’ve come to expect stunning vistas from the Cape Breton Highlands by now, and the Acajdian Trail does not disappoint — as you slowly climb, you’re treated to more glorious views of the valleys below and the sea beyond, with more forestry in Fall bloom. Cameras out, landscape mode enabled, and just keep taking pictures! Or, just stand and take a moment to soak the beauty in. The Acadian Trail, as with most of the Cape Breton Highlands hikes is another jewel in an already bejeweled crown. Trail Map
22: Duncan’s Cove, Chebucto Peninsula
Duncan’s Cove trail is located on a nature reserve on the Chebucto Peninsula — as such, the trail is largely unmaintained and there are no facilities nor signage provided. Trek at your own risk. But, don’t let that stop you! The trail is challenging because it is unmaintained! The trail follows the coastline after the first couple of kilometres through spotted woodland a dammed brook. There are some short inclines as the trail goes up the coastline and the rocks can be treacherous. If you get a nice day, it’s best to hike it then, as you’ll get the beauty of the boreal forest which laps the coast of the Chebucto Peninsula, as well as the fresh sea air. Trail Map
23: Balancing Rock Trail, Digby
24: Atlantic View Trail, Lawrencetown Beach
Located in Lawrencetown, a small coastal community, is the Atlantic View Trail. It’s a part of the Trans-Canada Trail, so you’ll have to pick and choose where to start and stop carefully, but the Lawrencetown Beach portion of the trail runs along the coastline for approximately ten kilometres. It’s here that you’ll take in the Lawrencetown coastline on your right, and the beautiful forestry that is emblematic of Nova Scotia’s coastal regions, with inlets and walking bridges providing spectacular viewing points and opportunities for beautiful landscape photographs. Don’t forget to pack your camera. At a modest ten kilometres, the trail should be a full-day excursion, so pack water and food accordingly. Trail Map
25: Woodland Multi-Use Trail, Sable River
Sable River is a small community on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. It is home to many walking and hiking trails, the longest of which is the Woodland Multi-use Trail. This trail runs from Highway 3 in Sable River to Canada Hill Road, whether further connecting trails branch off. This particular trail takes you across bridges and by the roadside and through heavily wooded areas to ensure a diversity of sightseeing. Though one thing does remain constant: the beauty of your surroundings deep into a Nova Scotia autumn. The trail should take a few hours to complete and you should be on the lookout for other trail users on bicycles and ATVs, as the trail is multi-use. Trail Map
There is perhaps no better time to hike in Nova Scotia than in autumn. It is many people’s favourite season, especially among the hiking community, as it is one of the most beautiful. No better time to summit a mountain in the Cape Breton Highlands, or climbing through gorgeous diverse woodland in Kejimkujik National Park, or explore the Nova Scotia coast with it’s emblematic woodland looking down on you from above. As Maritime provinces go, Nova Scotia is one of the best for fall hikes.
Title photo Credit: Keller Waud
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