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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 in Nova Scotia that are extremely easy to access. I know there are more – so please share your thoughts in the comments. From my post 45 Observations & Fun Facts about Nova Scotia I know that people in Nova Scotia aren’t shy about sharing their opinions.

Here are 9 not to be missed outdoor adventures in Nova Scotia that I personally recommend. There are certainly lots more you can do outdoors in Nova Scotia but this will open your eyes to the variety of landscapes and experiences available. Tidal bore rafting is the one thing I still haven’t done but would love to.

This post includes some affiliate links. If you make a purchase via one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

Before you start any adventure I’d also recommend picking up a copy of the Nova Scotia Backroad Mapbook as you may discover a host of other things you’d like to do on the way to one of the adventures detailed below.

Paddle 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: Kayaking Kejimkujik National Park  in Nova Scotia

Lots of islands filled with beautiful pine trees
Lots of islands filled with beautiful pine trees

Cycle 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

Backpack 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 – one of the top adventures in Nova Scotia

Hike 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: Cape Split – One of Nova Scotia’s Great Day Hikes

Adventures in Nova Scotia include the hike to Cape Split
Views at the end of the hike to Cape Split

Kayak in the Peggy’s Cove Area – one of the most beautiful adventures in Nova Scotia

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 out of Peggy's Cove
Kayaking out of Peggy’s Cove

Cycle the Cabot Trail – one of the challenging adventures in Nova Scotia

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

Adventures in Nova scotia include cycling the Cabot Trail
Cabot Trail looking towards Cheticamp

Hike 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 walking in Seaside Kejimkujik National Park
Beautiful coastal walking in Seaside Kejimkujik National Park

Kayak 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 Bay of Fundy, Cape Chignecto, NS

Kayaking past the Three Sisters at low tide
Kayaking past the Three Sisters at low tide

Cycle in the Annapolis Royal Area – one of the laidback adventures in Nova Scotia

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.

Beautiful views from Annapolis Royal
Beautiful views from Annapolis Royal

Further reading on adventures in Canada

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

9 not to be missed outdoor adventures in Nova Scotia

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 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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