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9 Not To Be Missed Outdoor Adventures In Nova Scotia

9 Not to be Missed Outdoor Adventures in Nova Scotia

I love Nova Scotia for the variety of scenery, it’s wonderful people and the plethora of outdoor adventures that are extremely easy to access. 

Here are 9 not to be missed outdoor adventures that I personally recommend. I know there are more – so please share your thoughts in the comments. From my post 45 Random Observations about Nova Scotia I know that people in Nova Scotia aren’t shy about sharing their opinions.

Paddling in Kejimkujik National Park

There’s something for every type of paddler in Kejimkujik National Park. Novice paddlers can explore the mellow Mersey River by canoe or kayak. Those with more experience can head out on a multi-day trip. If you stick to Kejimkujik Lake, a big lake dotted with islands, you can avoid a portage. But it’s possible to do the Big Dam Lake – Frozen Ocean Lake combination if you’re up for a 400 metre portage. The 48 km Peskowesk Lake System is another option offering a true wilderness experience. All equipment for your trip can be rented in the park from Whynot Adventures.

Read: Canoeing in Canada: Don’t Miss a Trip to Kejimkujik National Park

Beautiful canoeing in Kejimkujik National Park

Beautiful canoeing in Kejimkujik National Park

Cycling the Backroads of Nova Scotia’s South Shore

You’ll find some of the prettiest scenery in Nova Scotia along the south shore between Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg. And I think experiencing it on the back of a bike is one of the best ways to see it. Choose backroads where you can, including the Aspotogan Peninsula. Don’t miss a side trip to Blue Rocks. And be prepared for a moderately hilly ride.

Read: Exploring Nova Scotia’s South Shore by Bicycle

Mid-June is a lovely time to bike the backroads of Nova Scotia

Mid-June is a lovely time to bike the backroads of Nova Scotia

Backpacking the Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail

The premier backpacking trip in Nova Scotia has got to be the Coastal Trail in Cape Chignecto Provincial Park. Tough, with loads of ups and downs, the 51 km loop trail can be done in either direction but campsites (or huts) must be reserved. The most enjoyable section of the whole hike lies between Little Bald Rock and Seal Cove though sections of the fog forest are a total delight. Expect to be wowed by the Bay of Fundy scenery – both at cliff-top and beach level.

Read: A 3 Day Hike on the Coastal Trail in Cape Chignecto Provincial Park

One of the best views along the Coastal Trail

One of the best views of the three days along the Coastal Trail

Hiking to Cape Split in Blomidon Provincial Park

Most of the trail to Cape Split is a slog. But the reward at the end is worth it – expansive views of the Bay of Fundy complete with rock spires, lichen covered cliffs, and a bird loving, grassy covered rock pillar. Try to time your trip for the mid-point of the incoming tide so you can see and hear the turbulent tidal currents. The sound has been called The Voice of the Moon. May is an ideal time to visit as the woods are filled with wildflowers.

Read: One of Nova Scotia’s Great Day Hikes

A view of The Spires off of Cape Split, Nova Scotia

A view of The Spires off of Cape Split

Kayaking in the Peggy’s Cove Area

If you’ve been to Peggy’s Cove and witnessed the power of the ocean, you probably wouldn’t think of kayaking in the area. But one look at a marine chart tells a different story. Just east of Peggy’s Cove are numerous islands and islets. Their presence takes much of the power out of the waves so you can safely kayak the area. It’s one of the most scenic day trips in a kayak I’ve ever done. It would be a good idea to engage a guide with local knowledge of currents, wind and swells. And don’t miss a side trip to Dover Island – a mecca for rock climbers and a beautiful spot to enjoy a picnic.

Read: A phenomenal kayaking trip near Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia 

Kayaking near Peggy's Cove

Kayaking near Peggy’s Cove

Cycling the Cabot Trail

Considered to be one of the best multi-day bike rides in all of North America, the Cabot Trail, a 300 km loop, takes from five to seven days to cycle. Baddeck is a great place to start as it’s convenient to Sydney. Head through the Margaree Valley and then into French speaking Cheticamp (the hooked rug capital of the world). The beautiful Cape Breton Highlands National Park is the best and hardest part of the ride. There are two major climbs in the park, one with grades of 13% over 3 kms. The east side of the Cabot Trail offers lovely surprises including beautiful pink, rocky shores, secluded beaches, inspiring  vistas and quaint fishing villages. It has a few good hills of its own as well.

Read: A Guide to Cycling the Cabot Trail

The Cabot Trail is an amazing bike ride

The Cabot Trail is an amazing bike ride

Hiking the Seaside edition of Kejimkujik National Park

A beautiful park, well off the radar of most yet only 175 kms from Halifax, the seaside edition of Kejimkujik offers two superb hiking trails – the 5.2 km (3.2 mi) out and back Harbour Rocks Trail and the 8.7 km (5.4 mi) Port Joli Head loop. They can be done individually in just a few hours but it’s also possible to combine them. Scenery is wild and rugged and a good part of the trail is along the coast. It’s one of the few hikes where when hiking alone that I ran into bears – Mama and her two cubs. I beat a hasty retreat. The moral of the story – don’t go alone and carry bear spray.

Read: Hiking in Kejimkujik National Park – The Seaside Edition

Beautiful coastal path in Kejmkujik National Park

Beautiful coastal path in Kejmkujik National Park

Kayaking the Cape Chignecto Area

Sign up with Nova Shores Adventures to explore the Cape Chignecto area by kayak. What you’ll experience from the water is a wild, unspoiled landscape and a chance to get close to rock spires, arches, cliffs and the legendary Three Sisters rock formation – often referred to as the Crown Jewel of Cape Chignecto Park. There are pristine beaches, albeit rocky ones, once you’re past the Three Sisters – that are perfect for camping if you’re lucky enough to have the time to do a multi-day paddle. Conditions change quickly on this trip with the difference between low and high tide over 12 metres. Local knowledge about tides and currents goes a long way here.

Read: Kayaking the World’s Highest Tides in the Cape Chignecto Area

Kayaking past the Three Sisters at low tide

Kayaking past the Three Sisters at low tide

Cycling in the Annapolis Royal Area

The Annapolis Royal area is a great destination for cyclists. You have a choice of 16 routes ranging from 8.2 kms to 102 kms – all detailed on maps provided by the town. There’s a huge variety of countryside to explore including a challenging coastal tour along the Bay of Fundy, a ride down to Kejimkujik National Park and a dirt road ride to Belleisle Marsh. I chose a couple of bike rides – one to the charming town of Bear River – where you can enjoy lunch at a café on stilts. Don’t miss a stop at several of the nearby wineries. For a pretty out and back ride, head across the Annapolis River Causeway, the only place in North America right now that generates energy from the tides. Then continue west towards Victoria Beach past Port-Royal, the site of a French Colonial settlement in the early 17th century, and now a National Historic Site. The rest of the ride takes you through farm country up and down gently rolling hills.

Annapolis Royal is a pretty town and a perfect base for bike rides

Annapolis Royal is a pretty town and a perfect base for bike rides

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

9 not to be missed outdoor adventures in Nova Scotia

Other posts you might enjoy:

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 10 Comments
  1. Loved both Annapolis Royal and Kejimkujik National Park, gorgeous in autumn. We didn’t do the work, though – as we were on a road trip. Cycling in Annapolis Royal sounds fun and relatively easy 🙂

  2. All the adventures look pretty sweet, but I would say the Chignecto Trails looks to be the most appealing. Probably because it has been awhile since I have hiked, so I am itching to get out.

  3. that’s a picture of Granville Ferry, not Annapolis Royal. Granville Ferry is across from Annapolis Royal. My parents used to live there.

      1. I would of picked hiking Kejimkujik until you mentioned bears so I will pick cycling the Cabot Trail since I love to bike and heard it is beautiful.

  4. I had a real nice day hike to Fishing Cove on Cape Breton Island. There are two trailheads, both on the Cabot Trail Road, one steep, and the other gentle, following the brook.

  5. I absolutely loved my time in Nova Scotia. Hiking around Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail was just stunning. We saw whales from the top of the trail and was rather windy up there! Quite an adrenalin rush. Canada has some incredible places!

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