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Tough walking on this cobbled section of beach
Tough walking on this cobbled section of beach

Kejimkujik National Park Seaside Hiking

The Port Joli Head hike

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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.

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.

Kejimkujik National Park Seaside orchids
The northern pitcher plant
Aiming to hike the loop trail along the coast
Aiming to hike the loop trail along the coast

Hiking plans in Kejimkujik National Park Seaside

I had planned to hike about a kilometre out to the start of the 5.5 km loop hike around Port Joli Head, 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.

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 Raddall 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.

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.

Nice stretches of boardwalk in Kejimkujik National Park Seaside
Nice stretches of boardwalk in Kejimkujik National Park Seaside
Fresh - though not steaming bear poop in Kejimkujik National Park Seaside
Fresh – though not steaming bear poop in Kejimkujik 
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 
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 seaside
An inukshuk marking the seaside trail
An inukshuk marking the seaside trail
Pitcher plants
Pitcher plants

The Shepherd Shelter

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
Landscape near the ocean

Since I’m writing this blog I obviously didn’t have any ongoing bear issues. 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.

More hiking information for Kejimkujik Seaside

There is also the 5.2 km Harbour Rocks Trail. It’s an out and back hike.

No matter what hike you do, you can knock it off in a half day.

Highlights in the park include secluded rocky coves, wildflowers in season, beaches, rugged coastal scenery and wildlife.

The best time to hike is between May and October. 

Read: Tips for Staying Safe in Bear Country 

Useful park information

  • Kejimkujik National Park Seaside is roughly 185 km west of Halifax and 25 km southwest of Liverpool via Highway 103 and St. Catherine’s River Road.
  • 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 the coastal trail in Kejimkujik National Park (Seaside area) in Nova Scotia

 

 

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