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Hiking Kejimkujik National Park Seaside In Nova Scotia

Hiking Kejimkujik National Park Seaside in Nova Scotia

Much of the hiking in Kejimkujik National Park Seaside is superb. I loved the desolate beauty of the place – wild flowers galore including the orchids pictured below that I’d never seen before, rocky beaches, stunted trees and spectacular ocean vistas.

What I didn’t love was locking eyes, not once but twice with a black bear before I bolted. I’d been looking out at a wave breaking over a rock in a beautiful section of Kejimkujik National Park Seaside. It was a peaceful and Zen-like coastal scene with nary a soul around. I could have stopped and watched the waves breaking for hours.

Kejimkujik National Park Seaside orchids
Orchids – ones I’ve never seen before

I was all alone. It was about ten in the morning and there wasn’t another car in the Kejimkujik parking lot when I pulled in. I in fact had congratulated myself of having the place to myself.

Aiming to hike the loop trail along the coast
Aiming to hike the loop trail along the coast

I had planned to hike about a kilometre out to the start of a 5.5 kilometre loop hike, do it and then call it a day. I was about 80% done with the loop – making good time even with lots of photo stops.

Nice stretches of boardwalk in Kejimkujik National Park Seaside
Nice stretches of boardwalk in Kejimkujik National Park Seaside

Bears in Kejimkujik National Park Seaside

I should have known something was up. I saw bear scat – fresh too – but mistook it for a dog and figured someone had walked rather then driven in with their dog to hike the trail, perhaps from nearby Thomas Randall Provincial Park.

The scat didn’t have any berries in it – as it wasn’t berry season – and looked pretty darn pebbly if you want to inspect the picture. The scat should have been obvious clue #1.

After admiring the waves crashing on the shore, I turned around to read the blurb about the shepherd’s ruins. It wasn’t until I got my camera out to take a picture of the ocean that I noticed not only a big, beautiful black bear – but her two cubs. And no I don’t have any proof – just the memory of my thumping heart.

Fresh - though not steaming bear poop in Kejimkujik National Park Seaside
Fresh – though not steaming bear poop in Kejimkujik National Park Seaside

There was a section of boardwalk I hiked before I got to the shelter – and I thought it was rather strange that all the ferns coming out through the cracks were torn and beaten up. I actually made some noise through here – just in case. Well duh.

If I’d put two and two together I would have known I was about 15 minutes behind the bears. Sometimes ignorance is bliss – and I continued to snap pictures of the pretty scenes below.

Bunchberry flowers
Bunchberry flowers
Looking out towards Thomas Waddell Provincial Park
Looking out towards Thomas Waddell Provincial Park
A path through the ferns on the way to the coast
A path through the ferns on the way to the coast in Kejimkujik National Park seaside
Beautiful pink flowers - also new to me
Beautiful pink flowers – also new to me
Tough walking on this cobbled section of beach
Tough walking on this cobbled section of beach
No shortage of lobster traps washed up on the beach
No shortage of lobster traps washed up on the beach
Markers leading the way down the beach
Markers leading the way down the beach
Wild iris line the trail in places in Kejimkujik National Park seaside
Wild iris line the trail in places in Kejimkujik National Park seaside
An inukshuk marking the seaside trail
An inukshuk marking the seaside trail
Pitcher plants
Pitcher plants

The Shepherd Shelter in Kejimkujik National Park Seaside

Once I’d seen the bears from the ruins of the shepherd shelter I started to back away. In fact I ducked behind the shelter to see if I could get a quick shot of the bear. But mama was still staring at me. That’s when I decided I was out of there and there was no time for a picture.

You’re not supposed to let a bear see you running – and I didn’t but as soon as I turned the corner and was hidden from view I ran with everything I had in me.

I put many kilometres between she and I before I slowed down to a normal walking pace. For the first 15-20 minutes I glanced back every few seconds. I also picked up a few pieces of driftwood to make myself look larger.

"Ruins of an old shepherd's shelter"
Ruins of an old shepherd’s shelter
Kejimkujik National Park Seaside landscape near the ocean
Kejimkujik National Park Seaside landscape near the ocean

Since I’m writing this blog I obviously survived. In fact I ran into four people on the return and warned them. At that point I had some peace of mind because they were now between the bear and I ….unless she completed the loop and started back in my direction.

The bottom line is that the hiking in Kejimkujik National Park Seaside is sublime, but some bear spray is in order.

Read: Tips for Staying Safe in Bear Country 

Useful park information

  • Kejimkujik National Park Seaside is roughly 185 kilometres west of Halifax.
  • Entrance is free.
  • No camping is allowed.
  • Facilities are basic – a washroom, a phone and some maps.
  • It’s bear country obviously so travel with others and bring along a can of bear spray. If you see fresh scat make a lot of noise!
  • Check out the national park website for more information on the park.

Further reading on things to do in Nova Scotia

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Hiking in Kejimkujik National Park - The Seaside Edition

 

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 20 Comments
  1. How scary and cool! I would have been shaking. I’m visiting the north tip of Vancouver Island in the fall and this is one of the reasons I’m hesitant to hike alone there. Beautiful photos — especially the flowers!

    1. Thanks Christy. Are you hiking the North Coast Trail? It’s very rugged hiking on northern Vancouver Island – with lots of mud. There may be some bears but I bet they’re unaccustomed to humans and will takeoff if they see or hear you.

  2. They say you are not supposed to run, but that might be a good idea when they have cubs. They say that running triggers their predatory instinct, but if they have cubs, that does not apply. They attack when they have cubs out of a fierce instinct to protect their offspring. If you run away that fear is gone and they are not going to leave their cubs unprotected.

  3. It’s kind of a scary story but said in a quite a funny way (or maybe it’s just me?) šŸ™‚ I can picture you running and making yourself look large with driftwood (sorry, I’m laughing now. They say you should play dead when a bear comes but I guess it’s easier said than done. With all that happening, you’ve managed to capture some beautiful photos.

    1. @Salika You play dead if you’re about to be attacked and she didn’t see me running. All the things you’re supposed to do were going through my head the minute I saw her. (And I know hiking alone isn’t always the best idea but I had no choice if I wanted to do this one.)

  4. Leigh, I cracked up when I read the line, “Since Iā€™m writing this blog I obviously survived.” I’d been thinking how brave you were for doing this hike alone but you weren’t alone, not really. Kudos!

    I, too, was surprised to see orchids. They’re so beautiful; the landscape so captivating.

  5. Pretty scary. Again, you’re so brave! The bear poop kind of looks like red beans and rice. :-/

  6. I’ve just come here through a link in a recent post, Leigh, where I was intrigued about your mentioning the bear encounter. Lovely photos here — except you know which one!

  7. I had a similar experience (2011) but saw her on the other side of the trail. I was jogging the trail with a friend and we were about to end the beach rock section and there she was with her cubs. Momma Bear on ins side of the trail and two cubs on the other side. We slowly backed away and headed back in the direction we came – essentially doubling our jog. In July 2016 I walked the trail and there is bear scat ALL OVER THE PLACE – easy to assume the bear population is healthy at Keji Seaside šŸ™‚

      1. I stopped there last year on the way back from Thomas Raddall. They have a warning sign noting that there is a bear in the area. My kids noped right on out of there when they saw it.

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