Our Top 3 Hikes in Halifax: A Guide to the Best Trails in the Area

OnSide Academy
January 18, 2023

Halifax known for its stunning scenery, historic sites, and outdoor activities. One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of Halifax is hiking through some of the amazing trails – some that are just minutes away from the downtown core.

We think that hiking is a great way to express your fitness in the real world, and take in some scenery that only those who are physically active are able to enjoy.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, there is a trail for you. In this article, we’ll take a look at our top 5 hikes in Halifax, showcasing the best trails the area has to offer.

1. Bluff Wilderness Trail – Timberlea

bluff hikers approaching a lake

photo courtesy of Nova Scotia Gov.

The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail – this might be our favorite hike in HRM. This is a rugged, challenging 4-loop trail that is only for experienced hikers – the distance can be anywhere from 9km to 30km depending on which loops you decide on.

You’ll see some seriously diverse landscapes out there – patches of hardwood and evergreen forests, fens, and open granite barrens. You’ll get to take in some of the most beautiful views of the surrounding wilderness and lakes you’ve ever seen. And at one point, you’re gonna hike through a stand of large old growth red spruce between Pot and Cranberry Lakes. The third loop takes you over the Bluff plateau, one of the highest points near Halifax. And for you canoe enthusiasts, there’s even canoe and portage routes to access the wilderness lakes.

It’s wilderness out there, so you’re gonna want to bring enough water and food, and a map and compass just to be safe. Check the website for any additional required safety items. And remember, no facilities are available on the trail, so you gotta pack out what you pack in and leave no trace. And for you dog lovers, dogs are allowed on leash.

The trailhead and parking lot is located at 2890 St. Margaret’s Bay Road, Timberlea, and you can find a map and directions on the website. So, if you’re feeling adventurous and ready for a real challenge, this is the trail for you – you won’t regret it!

2. Polly’s Cove

photo courtesy of Halifax Trails

The Polly’s Cove is a beautiful 4km hike on the ocean right around the corner from Peggy’s Cove – the iconic lighthouse of Nova Scotia.

The trials here are fairly well marked throughout the year and you’ll want to make sure you stay on the trails as much as possible to avoid disturbing the ecosystem. It’s a moderately challenging route, but it’s worth it. You’ll see some beautiful views of the ocean, and you might even spot some birds or wildflowers. Just be prepared for some rocky and muddy terrain.

Depending on where the tide is, you can explore all kinds of pockets on top of the ocean. It goes without saying that you need to take the ocean seriously, but for the most part the trails are tucked far enough away from any tide activity.

Just before Peggy’s Cove there are two small roads that lead into the trial off of Prospect road. You can find the exact location on All Trails.

3. Kearney Lake / Blue Mountain Trail System

photo courtesy of Halifax Trails

The Kearney Lake Trail system is a unique and breath-taking hike. Similar to the Bluff Wilderness trail, there are a few different trails options. The best thing to do before hand would be to choose your route and check out the map from all trails.

These trails are great for experiencing the wonders of interior Nova Scotia just minutes from Halifax residential areas. This is also a convenient option because the easy access you can use next to the Maskwa Aquatic Club

Most of these trails are best for experienced hikers since these trails are maintained by the community. Depending on the time of year you head out, some of the marking could be less than ideal if members haven’t had a chance to refresh the trail markings.

There’s a very accessible 2.1km loop at the beginning of the trail and many other options beyond that. There are also a number of excellent swimming spots that local frequent all summer.

The wilderness of HRM

Any time you’re going out on a hike, it’s important to be prepared for the the worst case – getting lost. If you are unsure or not comfortable heading out on your own, ask someone who has been there before to accompany you.

Another important point to make when you’re hitting the trails, make sure you clean up any mess you make. Any thing that goes in with you must come out. If you’ve got the capacity, collect any other debris or garbage you see along the way.

We’re very lucky to have such amazing scenery to hike through in HRM – go put your fitness to use and soak in the wonders Halifax has to offer.

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