With Nova Scotia’s extraordinary coastline dotted with hikes revealing ocean vistas and panoramic views - it’s no surprise that hiking is the top outdoor activity. Hiking Nova Scotia’s coast and wilderness in the winter offers a different experience. The pictures taken on your winter hikes, will warm the hearts of friends and family as you capture, literally, some of the most beautiful landscapes!
Throughout the winter months in Nova Scotia, many parks and trails are kept accessible through a grooming process that packs the snow down to create a firmed packed surface to walk on. This is done by machines or by other hikers who’ve explored the trail before you. People are welcome to use Provincial Parks understanding that use is at their own risk, safety is their responsibility, the Parks Act is still in effect (eg dogs must be leashed, no camping, etc), they should follow “Leave No Trace” (eg. pack it in, pack it out), and they should be prepared for winter weather and icy conditions etc.
There are many places throughout the province that you can borrow or rent snowshoes for your next adventure.
Here are some of the best spots to hike and adventure in Nova Scotia during winter.
Top Nova Scotia Winter Adventuring Locations
Yarmouth & Acadian Shores
- Ellenwood Lake Provincial Park: A 2-km trail provides a relaxing hike for most age levels and hosts a wide variety of plant life, birds and animals. roomed x-country trails, managed by the Friends of Ellenwood. They also loan equipment.
Bay of Fundy & Annapolis Valley
- Cape Split Provincial Park: The current trail is approximately 6 km one way (12 km/7.5 mi. return), with a return travel time of four to five hours in the summer – expect longer for winter hiking. The view is an amazing panoramic of stunning cliffs and open ocean.
- Blomidon Provincial Park: Renowned for its spectacular views, Blomidon's 759 ha (1,875 acres) include 180 m (600 ft.) high cliffs, a variety of habitats, striking natural features, abundant wildlife – and the world's highest tides wash its shores. Hike the all-season trails, 13 km (8 mi), through mature hardwoods, with numerous panoramic views of the Minas Basin.
- Kejimkujik National Park and Keji Seaside: Experience the forested beauty and natural wonder of the only Parks Canada site that is designated both a National Park and a National Historic site. During the winter, Keji is known for maintaining groomed trails for visitors to access the beauty of nature under a blanket of snow. Call ahead.
- Smilieys Park: This winter (2018) trails are planned to be groomed for cross country skiing.
- Victoria Park Provincial Park: Now more than 125 years old, Victoria Park is a 1000-acre treasure in the heart of Truro. The beautiful and dynamic urban park boasts incredible natural features, including a dramatic steep-sided gorge, a winding river, cascading waterfalls, and a stately old-growth Eastern Hemlock forest. Challenge yourself with a 175-step climb to the top of Jacob’s Ladder. Spend an hour or spend the day.
- Ski Martock: Located near Windsor, Martock is serious about snow. Downhill ski on the mountain and cross country ski or snowshoe on the many trails.
- Bay to Bay Trail: A 10-km multi-purpose trail through picturesque woodlands; part of Trans Canada Trail. Can be accessed from several points along Rte 324. This trail connects to the Rum Runners Trail which connects communities and beaches between Halifax and Lunenburg.
- Graves Island Provincial Park: The park offers a 3-km (2-mi.) coastal walking trail overlooking the picturesque Mahone Bay. Graves is a popular spot for cross country skiing and snowshoeing.
- Tom Tigney & Foot Bridge Walking Trail: located along the abandoned Halifax and Southwestern railway line, the trail is not groomed but is open for year round use as snow cover in this area of Nova Scotia is minimal. Local residents describe walking the Tom Tigney Trail and the Foot Bridge Trail as “Going around the River”.
- Get out to visit Canda's favourite lighthouse, Peggy's Cove!
- Dollar Lake Provincial Park: Park is situated on a large lake 27 km (17 mi) north of Musquodoboit Harbour. The park is the perfect escape in a quiet, woodland setting offering a wide range of outdoor opportunities. There are groomed trails for cross country skiing.
- Taylor Head Provincial Park: Explore a variety of natural habitat, interesting geological features, wildlife species, scenic look-offs, secluded beaches and 16 km (10 mi) of unspoiled coastline.
- Wentworth Provincial Park: The park is a popular area for birdwatchers and offers wooded and open areas with a small meandering river and trails.
- Ski Wentworth: Located on one of Nova Scotia’s snow belts, enjoy some of the best skiing our province has to offer. Downhill ski, cross-country ski and snowshoe all in one spot!
- Cape George Hiking Trail: The hiking trail offers a series of connected loops, varying in length and difficulty (total 33 km/20 mi), from the coast through meadows and old-growth forests to cliffs affording spectacular views of the bay, with elevations up to 600ft. The trail offers panoramic views at various points, including Ballantyne's Cove.
- Sugar Moon Farm: Stop in for the best pankcake breakfast, EVER! Then, explore some of the 30km of trails along the Rogart Mountain Trail. These trails are perfect for hiking, snowshoeing and back-country skiing, in addition to snowmobile/ATV trails. And Sugar Moon supplies the snowshoes!
- Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park: A 40-minute drive from Halifax, Crystal Crescent is a top pick! The 10km hiking trail wanders along the granite coast with views of turquoise waters and takes you through some unique wooded areas and coastal barrens.
- Uniacke Estate Museum Park: Arrive at an elegant home now home to a museum that overlooks Lake Martha in Mount Uniacke, and explore the English country landscape, do some birdwatching and stroll or hike along eight modern walking trails.
- Cole Harbour Heritage Park Trails: Get ocean views as you explore the rolling hills of old farmland and sheltered woods. This trail also connects to the Salt Marsh Trail for more lovely views. Both trails are great for snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
- Halifax Oval: The Oval is the largest outdoor artificially refridgerated ice surface in Atlantic Canada. Get outside and enjoy free public ice skating in the winter. There are also skates and helmets available for use at no charge, and learn to skate and speed skate programs.
- Shubie Park: Known as the jewel of Dartmouth, Shubie Park offers well groomed trails and woodland and river views in the heart of Dartmouth. Bring some birdseed and small birds will eat out of your hand! Yes, it’s that magical. This trail system also follows the historic Shubenacadie Canal and connects by pedway to Dartmouth Crossing and Mic Mac Mall.
- Citadel National Historic Site: If you are visiting downtown Halifax, make sure to make the hike up to Citadel Hill for a wintery view of Nova Scotia's capital city and most visited National Historic Site!
- Point Pleasant Park: Point Pleasant Park situated in the south end of the Halifax peninsula is a historic 75-hectare wooded park crisscrossed with 39 km of easy winding trails and wide paths, many wheelchair-accessible. Visitors can experience preserved ruins of early fortifications, coastal ecosystems, as well as cultural resources.
- Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail: A challenging 4-loop wilderness trail over 30 kms, for experienced hikers only. Each loop will take approximately 3 to 4 hours to complete. The trail passes through several landscape types, including patches of hardwood and evergreen forests, fens and open granite barrens.
Cape Breton Island
- Uisge Ban Falls Provincial Park: Gaelic for “white water”, Uisge Ban Falls is found 14.5 km north of Baddeck (Highway 105, exit 9). A 16-metre waterfall and a trip along the North Branch Baddeck River highlight its two beautiful trails.
- Louisbourg Lighthouse Trail: This 2km trail runs along the coastline across the harbour from the Fortress of Louisbourg, offering visitors of all skill levels the opportunity for an enjoyable walking experience with unsurpassed vistas.
- Franey Trail: Reach the top and enjoy 360-degree views of the Cape Breton Highlands and open ocean on this 7.5km loop.
- Ski Ben Eoin: Near Sydney Cape Breton, enjoy downhill skiing, cross country skiing and exploring trails on snowshoe.
- Celtic Shores Coastal Trail: Groomed for cross country skiing and snowshoeing, this coastal trail offers 92-km (57 mi) stretching from Port Hastings to the Town of Inverness on the west coast of the spectacular Cape Breton Island.
- North Highlands Nordic Cross Country Ski Facility: There are over 10 km (6 mi) of groomed trails, which are groomed daily (weather permitting), for classic and skate technique. Visitors can enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and winter walking trails.
Guided winter hikes series:
Hike Nova Scotia offers a series of guided hikes around the province. Check out their schedule: https://www.hikenovascotia.ca/projects-guided-hike-events/
Do you like to cross country ski? Cross Country Ski Nova Scotia hosts a series of events throughout the winter: http://www.crosscountryns.ca/events
Enjoy winter hiking and adventuring in Nova Scotia!