This is a great hiking area located at the entrance and parking lot for the Maskawa boat club (Kearney Lake Road) that leads into the Birch Cove Wilderness area and features well marked trails that access multiple areas of the “Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area” about .7 km from the trail head.
The trail begins on provincial land leased by Maskwa Aquatic Club and features plenty of parking at the trail head (91 Saskatoon Drive). Before you begin you may wish to get a map of the trails since there are many loops and trails that “criss cross” and you can end up doing circles if you are not familiar with the trail system. This is even more important if you are checking out the trails farther in such as Ash Lake and Fox Lake areas.
Terrain is varied and hilly with some of the more challenging hills in the Halifax region. There are trails that do not climb all the hills so it is really a matter of choice if you prefer to avoid some of the hills.
If you are looking for variety these trails offer a lot, passing through rocky pine forest, marshy wetlands, hardwood stands and granite plateaus and offering hill tops views, you won’t be bored with the range of terrain these trails pass through.
Labrador Castle, is a granite ridge which juts above the surrounding forest as the highest point of land inland of the East River exit (exit 7) on highway #103 approximately 30 minute drive south of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Trailhead and Parking is located at the carpool parking lot which is on the corner of the exit road and the old #3 highway.
There are several routes that lead to the top of the hill one of which is to follow the old rail trail where it crosses under the highway just north of exit 7. The St. Margaret’s Bay Area Rails to Trail passes underneath the highway near the exit.
Follow the tracks inland, west. After crossing the East River take a right at the first logging road. Follow the logging road and stay to the right when it forks (uphill generally). This will continue uphill and come close to the top where you can watch for colored trail marker for a short path to the “Castle Rock” and the top that you can climb and then view the surrounding area of Chester basin and see the Tancook Islands in the distance.
It is a gradual climb and and relatively easy hike except for the short climb at the very top and worth the effort for the nice view. The logging road that forks to the left along the way also leads to power-lines nearby and offers extending the hike for those looking for longer hikes or even mountain biking.
Spider Lake trail is a series of interconnected trails mostly used by mountain bikes and ATV riders. That said, there are many “off shoots” and the main trail “Skull Trail” is a great single track ( no ATV’s) that goes all the way back to Lake Major around the back side of Spider Lake. This is a great trail area with very scenic trails but can be very confusing to get on the hiking portion of the trails and avoid getting confused on the other trails especially in the first part of the trail system.
The best place to park is at the usual trail head on Marjorie Anne Drive and take the Spider Lake Trail northwards. The first part of the trail is an old road and is wide so it’s often used by ATV’s – it can be very muddy depending on weather conditions 🙁
Keep an eye out for a single track trail on the right after a kilometer ( approximately) and take that trail onto the Skull Trail and follow it northeast toward Lake Major – Once you are on the Skull Trail – Enjoy! – easily one of the nicest hikes in the HRM!.
This was a fantastic exploration last May (2012) that was a complete loop around the “Birch Cove Lakes Area” (Crown lands of the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes area of Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM).
A long circuit that began at Starbuck’s on Lacewood Drive and entered the area at the south west corner of the Lacewood Drive and intersection with the 102 highway – just after the underpass.( it’s flagged with pink tape at the corner)
Entering the woods at the intersection we followed the trail counter clockwise around the Birch Cove lakes that are also part of the canoe route that connects these lakes.
You may have hiked Evil Birch, even cycled the Whopper Dropper. But what about in between? Well, those exist, albeit in need of a little attention. I like to call them part of the Suzie’s Lake Trail Complex, as Suzie’s Lake becomes the focal point of these inter-connected trails.
Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park – This beautiful beach park, at the mouth of the Halifax Harbour, has 3 white-sand crescent beaches to enjoy with boardwalks to the first 2 beaches and 2 pit-toilet facilities. The park is also the trailhead for a hike to Pennant Point, 10 km/6 mi each way, giving you an opportunity to explore the area’s wildlife including bird watching.
This is an 11km hike that starts at the parking lot at Crystal Cresent Beach and continues past 2 other small beaches, (the 3rd beach is the infamous “nude beach”). The hike follows the shore behind the beaches and there is a board walk that stays above the marsh areas and leads to the “Pennant Point Trail” that begins at the end of the 3rd beach.
Once you pass the 3rd beach the trail moves up onto the rocks and wanders along the shoreline for 6 – 8km and then cuts back strait over the peninsula to return to the parking area completing the loop.
The trail along the point offers a spectacular view of the rocky Nova Scotia shoreline and waves crashing against the rocks. The shoreline is very similar to Peggy’s Cove, Polly’s Cove and Duncan Cove hike areas. Because it is part of the Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park there is plenty of parking and washroom facilities near the beaches.
A great coastal hike 45 min from Halifax.
The White Lake Wilderness Ridge Trail is located in Musquodoboit Nova Scotia and runs parallel to the old railway track. The trail forms a loop that returns along the rail trail to the parking lot / trail head for a 19km hike. (Also Known as the granite ridge trail.)
The info shown here is for a hike of half the trail retuning along the rail trail at the halfway point for a total of 19km.
Trail head is at the Musquodoboit Trailway North ( Gibraltar Rock Loop trail – 1.1km). Follow the Gibraltar Rock Loop trail upward for 1.3km and then onto the North Granite Ridge trail for another 9.4km and return on the rail trail another 7.5km. The trail winds its way along the granite ridge, traversing areas of old growth hemlock, ascending a number of lookoffs of the Musquodoboit River Valley and Granite uplands descend to the Musquodoboit Trailway and then return to the Gibraltar parking lot, a total distance of over 19km.
The “Whopper Dropper” is an extensive system of trails behind the Burger King in the bayers lake shopping area. This system of trails was mostly developed and is extensively used by Mountain Bikers but are also used by Hikers. There are many loops and side trails that can sometimes be confusing if following the single track trails.
The trails can diverge in many directions and create many different loops especially on the granite plateau areas directly behind the Burger King. This granite plateau is great for biking and is relatively easy compared to the more “technical” and “difficult” single track trails that extend in many directions.
Terrain is varied from open granite areas with low shrubs and bushes, wooded areas with single track trails that wander through wooded areas that feature stands of pine trees near the lakes and stands of hardwood like Birch and Oak in other areas.
Used extensively by mountain bikers the trail features many technical challenges such as ramps, ladders and ramps built for mountain biking.