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The hike to Cape Split is a great one for families & couples
The hike to Cape Split is a great one for families & couples

Cape Split Hike in Cape Split Provincial Park

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One of Nova Scotia’s great day hikes has got to be the hike to Cape Split in Cape Split Provincial Park, just a 40-minute drive away from Wolfville. The trail was upgraded in 2021 so you don’t have to wait for the killer views until you get to the end of the  hike, where they literally take your breath away. Now, with six additional lookouts along the route, you can enjoy some Bay of Fundy views along the length of the loop hike.

Find a comfortable spot in the grass once you’ve hiked to the headland at Cape Split. Sit back and admire the Spires and the offshore rock stacks along with the crazy currents and standing waves where the waters of Minas Basin meet those in the Bay of Fundy.

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A view of Cape Split off in the distance
A view of Cape Split off in the distance
The hike to Cape Split
A view of The Spires off of Cape Split

Details of the Cape Split hike – which changed in 2021

In 2021, there were some big changes to the Cape Split trail. It is now possible to hike it as a 13.2 kilometre loop trail though both old growth and coastal conifer forests while enjoying views of both the Minas Basin and Scot’s Bay. So instead of an up and back hike you can walk up the Minas Basin side to the tip and then back along the Scot’s Bay side. With the addition of lookoffs, it’s a far more interesting hike along its full length now.

Length: 13.2 km as a looped trail

Open: You can do the Cape Split hike from dawn till dusk year round.

Time needed: 4 – 6 hours

Lookoffs: There are now seven lookoffs; Minas Basin Lookoff and Fundy Shores Lookoff to the east, Cape Split Lookoff at the tip, and Big Cove Lookoff #1 and #2, Lobster Hole Lookoff and Scot’s Bay Lookoff on the westerly side of the cape

Dogs: Allowed on leash

Trail conditions: Be prepared for wet, muddy sections

The main Cape Split hike (as opposed to the more treacherous but not recommended hike along the coast because of speedy tides) takes you inland for just over 6 km all the way to the Cape Split Lookoff. For the first 30 minutes or so it’s really not very interesting in the forest.

But then you start to climb a bit and the woods thin presenting a forest with a much more open feel. Plus you start to get peek a boo views of the water. I can well imagine in fall once the leaves are gone that it would have quite a different feeling. For two weeks in May, the wildflowers through the woods are supposed to be excellent. Keep an eye out for the Cape Split purple trillium in the spring.

Exercise extreme caution as any of the lookoffs and near any cliffs as they are continually eroding and not very safe.

It didn’t use to be till the very end of the hike that you got the view – and it will always be a big reason for doing the hike but now with numerous lookoffs that are safe to access, the desirability of the hike has gone way up. And so has the scenic factor. On a Sunday afternoon, there were probably two dozen people up enjoying the scenery along with a picnic lunch.

When and if you do the Cape Split hike, try to time your arrival at the tip with the mid-point of the incoming tide. The turbulent tidal currents can be heard for miles – and have been called The Voice of the Moon.

very pretty forest walking after about 30 minutes
Very pretty forest walking after about 30 minutes
Beautiful tree limbs can be seen the closer you get to the end of the trail
Beautiful tree limbs can be seen the closer you get to the end of the trail
Some of the side trails near the end of the hike offer VERY airy views
Some of the side trails near the end of the hike offer VERY airy views – exercise extreme caution
The first thing you see at the end of the trail - and the top of it is covered with birds
The first thing you see at the end of the trail ; the top of the rock is covered with birds
The Cape Split hike and people looking precariously perched
People looking precariously perched depending on your vantage point
She made me nervous sitting at the edge
She made me nervous sitting at the edge
Like lemmings to the sea - there's an attraction to the edge
Like lemmings to the sea – there’s an attraction to the edge
I felt like their mother - worrying about them at the edge
I felt like their mother – worrying about them at the edge
Turbulent tidal flow creates standing waves
Turbulent tidal flow creates standing waves

Bird watching at Cape Split

The gulls were in abundance – but the little ones still hadn’t learned to fly. I saw a few of them make a couple of feeble attempts but not much happened – and rather a tough start to flying when you’re at the top of a 200 and some foot cliff.

Gulls nesting at the top of the cliff at Cape Split
Gulls nesting at the top of the cliff
Lots of young gulls at Cape Split
Lots of young gulls at Cape Split
The hike to Cape Split is a great one for families & couples
The hike to Cape Split is a great one for families & couples

Look for agates 

And as a side note, it’s possible to find agates around the shores of Cape Split – but because of the huge fluctuation in tides its worth going with someone who knows the area and the hazards. On the beach where Little Split Rock is the dominant feature, you can find agates as the tide drops because they glisten when they’re wet.

Cape Split Trail Map

Map of the Cape Split hiking trail
Map – pre 2021 of the Cape Split hike
The final piece of the hike to Cape Split leaves you here
The final piece of the hike leaves you at the edge of a cliff

Directions to the trailhead

Leave Wolfville on Highway NS-358N. Stay on it until you reach Scot’s Bay. Then turn left (west) on Cape Split Road and follow to to the trailhead. It’s about a 35 minute drive from Wolfville.

For more information on Cape Split, visit the Nova Scotia Parks website.

Catch a sunny day and you'll want to hang out at the tip for at least an hour
Catch a sunny day and you’ll want to hang out at the tip for at least an hour

Where to stay the Cape Split hike

In Canning stay at the Farmhouse Inn B&B. I did one year and thoroughly enjoyed it. 

In Wolfville try the Tattinghouse Inn, rated superb. The Locust and Starr Inn with a garden and terrace is rated as exceptional.

Location map

                       

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The hike to Cape Split near Wolfville is one of Nova Scotia's top day hikes

 

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