If you are sick of the grey winter weather and excited to get outdoors in the warmer months to come, hiking is a popular way to get fresh air and enjoy the sun.
Many provincial parks that have hiking trails offer amenities such as bathrooms and water fountains. The trails are often kept up to ensure people have an enjoyable hike.
However, Janet Barlow with Hike Nova Scotia, says there are lesser known trails in the Halifax region that offer great views, clear trails and amenities for the beginner or the advanced hiker.
Hike Nova Scotia is a non-profit organization that works with Nova Scotia Trails Federation and Recreation Nova Scotia and is funded by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness.
“I have hiked these trails and when I have been on (them), I don’t see as many people as you would hope to see,” says Barlow.
Here are four underrated hiking trails that offer something for every type of hiker:
The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail
Located in Beechville, this is a looped trail that takes about three hours to do. According to halifaxtrails.ca, it is open to hikers, snowshoers and cyclists and stretches about 32 kilometres.
“It’s a somewhat challenging trail, because it has rocky areas which bring you up high to see beautiful views,” says Barlow.
Barlow says what makes this trail more unique is that you can stay overnight if you have permission.
“It’s so beautiful. One of my favourites.”
Crowbar Lake Hiking Trail
In Porters Lake, Crowbar Lake Hiking Trail system offers an 18 kilometre footpath that follows a small lake. The trail system breaks down into four smaller trails, each offering different views of the scenery surrounding Porters Lake.
Each section of the trail allows hikers to return to the beginning of the rail easily, so hikers can customize their walk. There are bridges, benches and boardwalks available for less experienced hikers.
“There is a short incline, and can be challenging, but you can hike for as long as you want,” says Barlow. “The key is to know your limits.”
Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park is a busy spot for Nova Scotia tourism, but according to Barlow, there is a hidden gem for hiking found next to the beach called Pennant Point.
The 13 kilometre coastal hike starts at Crystal Crescent and passes by two more beaches in the process. Halifaxtrails.ca rates the trail as moderate because it has washrooms, parking and a partial boardwalk available for those who need it. Barlow says because the sea breeze is always present in the summer, the bugs stay far away.
“The hiking trails take hikers up onto the rocks and you can hike all the way to the end of Pennant Point with beautiful views,” says Barlow. “And when you are done your hike, you can always go for a dip in the ocean!”
Located in Spry Bay, Taylor Head Provincial Park is about an hour outside of Halifax.
According to Barlow, there are several options to take depending on your hiking limits, so you can tailor your hike to what suits you. Although the walk can be lengthy, Barlow says it isn’t as challenging as the Bluffs or the Crowbar trails. There are boardwalks and look offs for all hikers to enjoy and the terrain is well maintained with markers along the way.
Because it is a provincial park, bathrooms are available but are closed in the colder months.
“And of course, the beach is there too, although I find the water pretty cold,” Barlow says with a laugh.
See where these hidden hiking gems are.