In Colchester County, you’ll find a wide variety of natural activities. One thing that connects them is the history you’ll experience. From art to agriculture, Indigenous to immigrants, these places will help you learn more about the county’s history. And since yesterday can be history too, there are some more modern places to have fun that will make you excited for the future in Colchester.
Watch A Mill At Work
Like many other mills in Nova Scotia, the Balmoral Grist Mill was built in the 1800s, 1874 to be precise. Unlike other mills, this grist mill is still functioning. The Mill is now a museum that visitors can explore to see how oats or wheat are processed. You can even sample the toasted grains at the end. The mill also has a picnic area, so you can sit outside and close your eyes, imagining how people visited the mill almost 150 years ago.
Cost: 3.90 for adults, 2.80 for youths and seniors, free for children, 8.65 for a family
Address: 660 Matheson Brook Road, Tatamagouche
Watch Ducks Get Their Feet Wet
Ducks Unlimited is a group whose mission is to preserve wetland ecosystems across Canada. Just west of Brookfield, they partnered with Lafarge Canada Inc to develop the Brookfield Wetland and Nature trail. This 1.6 km stacked loop trail goes past constructed ponds and the wetlands. There’s plenty of educational signage too, so you can learn all about the importance of these wetlands, and you can learn how to identify different wildlife you spot along the trail.
Phone: 902-673-3723 (Lafarge Canada Inc Brookfield Cement Plant)
Address: Highway 102, Exit 12 at Brookfield
Wander Through the Woods
The Christene MacDonald Walking Trail is quite close to the Balmoral Grist Mill, so if you want to extend your visit there it’s easy to do so! There are two loops that are about 500 m each, so it’s a fairly quick walk. The terrain is uneven and is a simple dirt footpath for most of it, so make sure to wear decent walking shoes. Take a walk through the forest and enjoy the hemlock, spruce and hardwood trees that have been there for decades (though most aren’t quite as old as the mill).
Address: 660 Matheson Brook Road, parking area is approximately 1 kilometre from the parking area of the Balmoral Grist Mill
Cycle Through the County
Whether you’re walking or biking, the Cobequid Trail is 18km of beautifully varied scenery. Since it goes through most of central Colchester county, you’ll pass Salmon River, brooks, forests, Acadian farmlands, and even a former railway. Salmon River in particular is worth the walk, because it’s a tidal bore. It’s actually not bore-ing though, because what that means is that when the tide comes in, you’ll see a wall of water coming up from the sea and nearly turning the direction of the river. Get out a tide calendar app, pick an entry point, and set off on an adventure.
Phone: 902-897-3180 (Municipality of Colchester)
Address: Various access points for each section, see site for detailed instructions
Get A Square Learning Experience
Would you like to see some local art, visit a farmer’s market, learn about local heritage, and watch people build boats in the traditional way? You can do all of these things at Creamery Square in Tatamagouche. The Square provides a centre for all of these activities, and visitors are welcome to participate and learn as they visit. The Square is also along the Sunrise Trail, so once you’ve gotten your fill of the Square you can go for a quick walk and talk about everything you’ve learned.
Cost: Depends on activities
Address: 39 Creamery Road Tatamagouche
Visit the Park, Music or Quiet
If something’s happening outside in Truro, it’s likely to happen in Civic Square. Designed through a public consultation process, the park is big enough to host a friendly crowd for all sorts of events; it has an integrated sound system that’s perfect for concerts. If there’s no event going on, the park is also filled with beautiful quiet spaces, perfect for hanging out with a book or a picnic.
Address: 740 Prince Street, Truro
Moose, Diamond, Pinnacle, Egg, Long
If you guessed those are the names of the five islands that make up the Five Islands Park, congratulations, you might be psychic! The park is on the Bay of Fundy, and you can see most of the big Bay of Fundy landmarks, like Cape Blomidon, Cape Split, and of course, the Five Islands. The lighthouse stands proudly overlooking it all, which is wonderful because it didn’t used to be there—it was at Sand Point for several decades, but it kept having to be moved back because of erosion, so it was rehomed when the land that makes up the park was donated.
Address: 618 Bentley Branch Road, Five Islands
Find Your Favourite Greenwing Trail
The Greenwing Legacy Interpretive Trails are different as can be for trails as close as they are. The Wetland Interpretive Trail and the St. Andrews Marsh Trail were created by a partnership between the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Ducks Unlimited, and they’re part of the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park (more on that later). The Wetland Interpretive Trail (1km) goes through demonstration wetlands and is wheelchair accessible, while the St. Andrew’s Marsh Trail(3km) is a wooded trail that goes through mature hemlock and white pine next to the St. Andrew’s Marsh. They’re both beautiful and informative, so if you have the time you should check them both out to see which one is your favourite.
Phone: 902-758-7094 (NS Department of Natural Resources)
Address: Trailheads are both off Creighton Road
Go Hiking Nutt(b)y!
The Gully Lake-Nuttby Hiking Trail System is made up of six trails, and is itself part of the Cape to Cape Trail. The Cape-to-Cape Trail leads all the way from Cape Chignecto to Cape George, which is about 400 km, so if you’re looking for a shorter experience, I’d stick to this trail system. Each of these trails offers unique views and experiences, from Meguma Falls to Small Pox clearing to dwarf beech trees. Choose your adventure, grab a map from the link below, and set out on your part of the system. And if you’ve got time, you can always keep on trekking.
Phone: 902-647-2271 (Cobequid Eco-Trails Society)
Address: Sugar Moon Farm, Alex MacDonald Road off Route 311 in Earltown
Stay In A Train
There are lots of creative places to stay in Nova Scotia. If you’re staying in Colchester, the Train Station Inn is one of those places. The station was used up until the 1980s, when the railway stopped running there and it was converted into a boutique hotel and dining car. It’s a fascinating place to stay, and between the trails and park around the Inn and the shop that’s attached there’s plenty to do. It’s also in central Tatamagouche, so this is a great place for a base of operations.
Cost: Depends on length of stay, the trail is free to hike
Address: 21 Station Toad, Tatamagouche
Level Up Your Hiking
The Kenomee Trail System encompasses four trails: Devil’s Bend, Economy Falls, Cobequid Escarpment, and Kenomee Canyon. Devil’s Bend will take you below the Economy Falls, while the Economy Falls trail will take you past and then down stairs below the falls. Cobequid Escarpment is above the falls and you cross the river twice, once without a bridge, and the Kenomee Canyon Trail is a challenging hike, 18 km long, that explores past the falls and deep into the Economy River Wilderness Area. In terms of length, Economy Falls is the shortest and Kenomee is the longest, and there is a range of difficulty amongst the trails. Know your group’s limits, come prepared with snacks and water, and set off into the wilderness.
Note: The Kenomee Canyon Trail is recommended for experienced hikers only.
Phone: 902-647-2271 (Kenomee Trail Society)
Address: All trails off of Economy-River Phillip Road (see site for detailed directions)
Visit A Small Pond Park
Kiwanis Park is a small park that packs a big punch. The loop walking trail is 600 m long and has asphalt terrain, making it a great option when you have a mixed group of people and it surrounds a beautiful pond. Kiwanis is well known for both resident and migratory waterfowl, so you’re sure to see some birds; make sure to pack your picnic accordingly. It’s in the west end of Truro, so it’s close to several places in the area, and if everyone’s having a more low-energy day, this is a great place to go where you can still enjoy the outdoors and not overdo it.
Phone: 902-893-6078 (Town of Truro Parks and Recreation)
Address: Juniper Drive/Robie Street, Truro
Don’t Get Muddy By the Pond
MacElmon’s Pond Provincial Park is similar in some ways to Kiwanis Park, but it’s in Debert and further away from the road. It provides a 1.5 km loop walk, and in addition to the pond you will see a red pine plantation and a black spruce swamp (and now Red and Black from Les Mis is stuck in my head). With a mix of dirt path and boardwalk, the mostly flat terrain will be simple to navigate. Quick tip though: if it’s rained in the past week or so make sure to wear closed-toe shoes to avoid getting too much mud on your feet.
Phone: 902-662-3030 (NS Department of Natural Resources)
Address: Highway 104, Exit 13, South on MacElmon’s Road
Mi’kmawey Debert Interpretive Trail
The Mi’maq people have lived in Nova Scotia for almost 11,000 years, a number that boggles the mind. The Mi’kmawey Debert Interpretive Trail was designed on a traditional hunting place in order to tell parts of this story. The trail is a 4.4 km loop with various terrain surfaces and several places where you have to cross streams. You’ll find panels along the way decorated with art by Dozay Christmas, who is from the Membertou Mi’kmaq community. A word of caution—it’s important to stay on the trail, because there is a chance of finding unexploded explosive ordnance (UXO) left over from military testing. Call 911 and leave the area if you spot anything suspicious.
Phone: 902-895-6385 (Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq)
Address: 1952 Plains Road
Visit the Gazebo by the Sea
Nelson Memorial Park sits right beside Tatamagouche Bay, and its 47 acres are crammed full of outdoor adventures. You can walk the Butter Trail, walk the wood paths, check out the gravel beach and salt marsh, visit the gardens, and look for the gazebo. When you want to take a break, enjoy the picnic areas (two of which have barbeques, you just need to bring your own charcoal), and pick your favourite place to enjoy the ocean views.
Address: 153 Loop of Highway 6, Bayhead
Mountain Biking for All
If you love to mountain bike, the Pat Mahaney Mountain Bike Trail is for you! Built and designed only for mountain biking, you can choose between beginner, intermediate, and advanced loops. If you couldn’t bring your bike with you, don’t worry—there are places to rent bikes and gear in the surrounding community. If you do have your bike, well, then head right for the hills!
Phone: 902-893-8083 (Village of Bible Hill)
Address: Warren Drive off College Road, Bible Hill
Come Down to the River
This county makes me happy because there are multiple parks with gazebos. Riverfront Park in Truro is right next to downtown, so it’s easy to get to, and it has everything a city park should have. There are picnic tables, gardens, and lovely paths to wander. It’s a lovely little patch of nature in the middle of one of the busier parts of this county, and it’s perfect for one of those low-energy days (there’s even a McDonald’s just up the road!
Address: Bayview Street, Truro
See Wildlife at the Park
Ah, one of my favourite places to go in the whole province. Shubenacadie is home to the Greewing Trails described above, but there are also literally dozens of wildlife exhibits of native Nova Scotian birds and animals, from bears to moose to porcupines to vultures. And peacocks too, because why not? You’ll learn lots about Nova Scotia’s wildlife, get a great walk in through the park, and depending on the time of year you might see some baby animals! My suggestion is to go on a cooler overcast day, because the animals are much more active.
Cost: Summer Season passes are 5.50 for youth, 16.00 for adults, 37.50 for families (those prices apply for a single visit too)
Address: Highway 102, Exit 11 at Stewiacke from Truro or Exit 9 from Halifax
Find a Prehistoric Place with Modern Fun
If you’ve ever driven in this part of Nova Scotia, you’ve likely seen the statue that marks this ridge—it looks like an elephant with extremely long tusks, which isn’t a bad description of a mastodon. Mastodons roamed Nova Scotia millions of years ago, and now there’s a whole Ridge named after them! The Ridge has a bit of everything—they have a mini putt, historical exhibits about natural and human history in Nova Scotia, and you can also go down the Stewiacke River trail. It’s a great place to stop for some fun for the whole family, as well as food because they have their own farmer’s market.
Address: 87 Main Street West, Stewiacke
Choose Your River Day
Stewiacke River Park exemplifies forest parks in Nova Scotia by having lots of things to do in a natural setting that’s welcoming to people of all experiences. You can walk the trail along the river and into the natural woods, stop to take a load off at one of the benches and enjoy the view (look for bald eagles!), and finish with a picnic. You can also swim, boat, and fish in the river, or just enjoy a picnic while the kids play at the playground. Fire up one of their barbecues, bring your doggo (as long as they’re on a leash), and enjoy a summer day at Stewiacke.
Note: Due to COVID-19, the playground is currently closed, but may open by the end of the summer.
Phone: 902-897-3185 (for reservations)
Address: 528 Stewiacke River Park Road, Stewiacke East
Reserve Some Time for the Cove
The Thomas Cove Coastal Reserve is home to 2 trails that are 4 km each, which means it has 8km of trail, and the tidal range is 16m (I love that number pattern and I wanted to highlight it). The Headlands Trail and the Economy Trail both give access to the beach (which depending on the time of day can be 2 km wide), and amazing views of the Minas Basin, the Cobequid Mountains, and the Five Islands. Make sure to keep an eye on the time if you go walking along the mud flats, because the tide comes in real fast and you’re going to get soaked on your way back to the trail, and no one wants that.
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Tides out… . Taken at Thomas Cove Coastal Reserve in Colchester County, Nova Scotia, Canada. #thomascovecoastalreserve #nikond7100 #hikens #insidecanada #raw_canada #canadasworld #igers_novascotia #canadasworld #bayoffundy #novascotia #landscape #nature #photography #landscapephotography #travel #naturephotography #photooftheday #sky #travelphotography #picoftheday #beautiful #naturelovers #photographer #wanderlust #clouds #adventure #hiking #travelgram #explore #view
Phone: 902-647-2271 (Kenomee Trail Society)
Address: Thomas Cove Access Road (off Economy Point Road)
Coffee and Kickflips
Truro is home to the Tim Horton’s Skatepark. The park is 13,272 square feet, and the expansion is even larger. You’ll find everything from flat spaces to bigger plazas with obstacles like stairs and benches. Bring some coffee and donuts and get ready to do some shredding! (Can you tell I’ve never been on a skateboard in my life?)
Cost: Free (you need to have a helmet)
Address: Brunswick Street, Truro
Do Some Sportsing, Any Sportsing!
If you’re looking for a specific sporting field, the Truro Amateur Athletic Club Grounds is the place to go. They have a quarter mile trail, field events, a football field, a baseball field, and a playground. You can enjoy sporting events that may be going on, or just enjoy your own playtime. If you’re around for a while, you can always look into booking a space for an event or a special game, maybe for a reunion.
Address: 57 Golf Street, Truro
Loop Through Nature
You’ll find the Valley Nature Loop right behind the Valley Elementary school. It’s a quick loop about 700m with gravel terrain, and you can walk, cycle, and bring dogs on leashes. Before you set out you should download the Valley Nature Loop Interpretive Guide at the link below. It tells you tons of fascinating information about the trees and forest you’re passing along the way.
Address: Valley Elementary School, Salmon River, Valley
Victoriously Visit the Park
The last of the parks on this list to be within Truro’s city limits, Victoria Park is also the biggest. With 400 acres of land, the 20km trail network only scratches the surface. Within the park you’ll find waterfalls, an outdoor pool, a playground, tennis courts, a ballfield, and a band shell (look up if there will be any concerts while you’re visiting). The trails themselves are all distinct, so you can just walk along Lepper Brook Walk to see the falls, or take the Dr. Jim Vibert Trail loop to see beyond the gorge. There’s even more to explore that I don’t want to spoil, so go visit the park!
Phone: 902-893-6078 (Town of Truro Parks and Recreation)
Address: Park Road, Truro
Visit Glooscap Statue
See the 12 metres (40 ft.) tall statue of Glooscap.
According to the legend, Glooscap created many natural features in Nova Scotia and slept using Nova Scotia as the bed and PEI as his pillow.
While you are there, learn all about Millbrook First Nation at Millbrook Cultural & Heritage Centre.
Phone: (902) 843-3493
Address: 65 Treaty Trail, Truro
By: Adrienne Colborne