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One Of Nova Scotia’s Great Day Hikes: The Hike To Cape Split

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

One of Nova Scotia’s great day hikes has got to be the hike to Cape Split, just a 40 minute drive from Wolfville. It’s not a knock your socks off kind of hike – that is until you get to the end of the trail. And then the views will literally take your breath away.

"A view of Cape Split off in the distance'

A view of Cape Split off in the distance

"A view of The Spires off of Cape Split"

A view of The Spires off of Cape Split

What the hike to Cape Split is like

The main hike (as opposed to the more treacherous but not recommended hike along the coast) takes you inland for eight kilometres all the way to the tip. For the first 30 minutes or so it’s really not very interesting.

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.

There are a number of side trails off the main trail – taking you out to a cliff edge. Exercise extreme caution as these cliffs are continually eroding and not very safe.

"The first 30 minutes of the hike isn't very interesting"

The first 30 minutes of the hike isn’t very interesting

"Open forest trail"

The trail opens up after 30 – 40 minutes of hiking

"trail through the woods"

Beautiful tree limbs can be seen the closer you get to the end of the trail

It really isn’t until the very end of the hike that you get the view – and it’s the whole reason for doing the hike in my opinion. On a Sunday afternoon there were probably two dozen people up enjoying the scenery along with a picnic lunch.

"Cape Split sea stack"

The first thing you see at the end of the trail – and the top of it is covered with birds

"precarious perch at Cape Split"

People look precariously perched depending on your vantage point

"girl on the edge of a cliff"

She made me nervous sitting at the edge

"Like lemmings to a cliff"

Like lemmings to the sea – there’s an attraction to the edge

"Looking over a cliff face"

I felt like their mother – worrying about them at the edge

"Turbulent tidal flow"

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 cliffs"

Gulls nesting at the top of the cliffs

"There is safety in numbers"

There is safety in numbers

"family at Cape Split enjoying the view"

The hike to Cape Split is a great family hike

Distance and time needed for the hike

Although the hike to Cape Split is reported to be eight kilometres one way it doesn’t feel that long. In fact the signs suggest allowing 4-5 hours but I did it quite comfortably in 75 minutes each way. Leashed dogs are allowed on the trail. I saw one idiot on an ATV and I have to think he was breaking the rules though he said otherwise.

When and if you go 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.

Looking for agates at Cape Split

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.

"map of the trail to Cape Split"

Have you ever done the hike to Cape Split? Which trail did you take?

More Nova Scotia reading

One of Nova Scotia's Great Day Hikes: The Hike to Cape Split



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 26 Comments
  1. Beautiful shots Leigh….I haven’t been up there for awhile, and am inspired to go again soon. Have done it on foot, with snowshoes, and on my mountain bike (mid week late fall, with little traffic), usually taking the main trail. Kristen has gotten lost on a few of the other ones when looking more at the flowers….

  2. Many, many years ago- we took an amazing hike through the woods of Cape Breton past a long-abandoned town to what I think was a bay. It was just us on the trail and the views at the end were magnificent. I wish I could remember where we were, but I haven’t a clue. I just remember it was wonderful day and a lasting memory.

  3. Cape Split is one of my favorite hikes. It’s just so beautiful and it’s amazing to watch the birds and the waves below.

  4. I hiked this trail 42 years ago with my new companion . We are still together
    although the Cape Split Trail was our first trial . We started out late in the day and arrived
    in the dark . We managed to pitch our tent and in the morning we woke up to a stunning view .
    It had rained during the night and the matches got wet . My girlfriend walked away angry at my incompetence but I knew she’d come back and she did . We’re thinking of going back on a pilgrimage hike . We’ll be better prepared this time . Hope we can still pitch a tent there .

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