Blue Beach Fossils

Blue Beach, Bay of Fundy

Blue Beach is a fabulous place to find fossils.  We had a grand day at this beach on a recent Saturday – low tide, distant rain, warmth – what more could we have asked?  Sometimes there are places you go for fossils, but the fossils are hard to find.  Here, at Blue Beach, there are fossils everywhere on the beach – above the tide line.  Of course most of the fossils are worms tracks*, but still! My nieces were with us and it was thrilling for them to find real fossils.

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Blue Beach is located on the Avon River close the the Bay of Fundy.  Lots of that Bay of Fundy mud to explore.  By the end of our wander along the beach we (all the women/girls) had taken off our boots and sneakers and squished our toes in the mud; there is nothing like it.

This beach is not hard to find, but does require directions.  Check out my Nova Scotia map or the website for the Blue Beach Museum. The beach is an easy hour drive from Halifax into the Annapolis Valley.

IMPORTANT: Take pictures of your fossil finds because → Fossils in Nova Scotia belong to the province and are protected by the Special Places Protection Act.  You must have a permit to dig or collect fossils.

* Actually these long wiggly tubes are the remnants of silt filled burrows that may have been made by creatures that are like worms, but are not necessarily worms; but the term worm tracks is just so much more evocative and easier.

Black Hole Brook Falls

waterfall at Black Hole Brook

As promised, a short note about the water fall we visited on Sunday – after hiking around Bomidon.

It was mid to late afternoon and the discussion revolved around how much day light remained and would we have time to reach the falls (and for me – to come back out!). About half the crew was keen, and so it was agreed to go. A short drive away set us at the start of the walk.  The walk in was indeed short, but in some ways just as challenging as the earlier 10 k walk.  There is no established trail, just a path worn by people on their way to the falls; and there was the brook to cross too. The water was too deep for handy stepping stones.  One lucky soul had worn rubber boots.  The rest of us balanced on a downed tree trunk and leapt to shoreline boulders.  After a short walk we scrambled down the ravine to see the falls at their best.

These falls are well worth the visit.  They are located on one of the many brooks emptying into the Bay of Fundy; in this case, not too far from Baxters Harbour.  I’ve marked them on my map and hope to go back to take a gps settings.

Cape Blomidon

Minas Basinn from Cape Blomidon Provincial Park, Nova Scotia

Last weekend I finally got organized and joined a hike with Scotian Hiker.  This keen hiker plans hikes and shares these plans with folks.  After watching planned hikes come and go for months, I was thrilled to have made the time to complete a hike with other enthusiastic hikers/walkers.

We walked several trails, linking them to make the trip out to the look-off at Blomidon Provincial Park which overlooks part of the Minas Basin.  The company (a small group of dedicated hikers) was great and the walk was excellent.  The various trails included a mix of easy paths and root covered paths in the woods.  The woods were wet and large puddles (and mud) were not uncommon.   We began (check map) at the parking lot on the edge of the park (the park gate is closed at this time of year) and walked towards the look off by heading inland on Bordan Brook Trail, up to the Woodland Trail then over to the the Look-off and back along the Jodrey Trail.   This hike covered about 10 kms and a trail brochure , published by Nova Scotia, details the lengths of the various trails.

Borden Brook has a small falls which was fun to see.

Borden Brook Falls in Blomidon Provincial Park

At the end of the day we added a bonus trip to see a waterfall at Black Hole…more on this later.

Winter views from Smiths Cove

This past weekend we walked the shoreline at Smiths Cove.  This lovely, mostly coble beach on the Annapolis Basin stretches for kilometers.  The water views are open and directly opposite Digby Gut leading out to the Bay of Fundy.   Saturday the temperatures were warm (above 0º) and there was virtually no wind – something that is not alway the case here on the open water.

This shoreline is tidal – as we were reminded on our way back.  We ended up walking over large, sharply edged rocks – likely tumbled down the bank to protect the shoreline.  This uneven and tricky scramble calls for sturdy shoes.

This is not the easiest beach to get to, but exit 24 or 25 off highway 101 will take you in the right direction.  We generally look for an accessible public parking space along highway 1 and walk down to the shore.

After our beach walk we hiked (okay a short steep walk) to the Smiths Cove look-off over Digby Gut.  (Check the map for more precise location.) Its a great view and gives a wonderful contrast to the view from the beach.  The island in this view (Bear Island) appears as shoreline below the north shore to the right of the beach image.

Walking at Joggins fossil cliffs

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Several days ago we were lucky enough to walk the beach at Joggins fossil cliffs in Nova Scotia on the Bay of Fundy.  UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wow.  Imagine looking at fossil plants that are over 300 million years old. {older than dinosaurs by 100 million years}  We took the two hour tour, a beach walk with a guide.  Without the guide, I would never have seen all the things he showed us.  Fossils in the cliffs – easy to see once they are pointed out, indicate where ancient forests grew.  We saw at least two separate locations where the cliffs have broken away to reveal petrified tree trunks.

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And from one of these forests the tree trunk below will be excavated/removed for study soon – maybe even before the end of the summer.  It seems that these particular tree trunks hold inside them the fossil remains of small animal life (insects for example) from past times.  There are some fossils found here that are found no where else.  The discovery of these fossils formed an important part of  our understanding of time frames in the carboniferous age.  The staff and the exhibits do a great job explaining all about the role of fossils found here in the development of ideas about geological and evolutionary processes.

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Fossils are in the cliffs and all over the beaches.  And then there were the coal seams, breaking up to form a beach littered with hard coal pieces.

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Joggins fossil cliffs are about an hour off the main highway in Nova Scotia.  They are well worth the visit, but do time your visit with the tides to arrive near low tide.  Joggins is on the Bay of Fundy with its famous high tides. If you arrive just before or after high tide you will not be able to see much, nor walk very far on the beach.  The petrified tree trunks from ancient forests, a highlight for me, are far enough up the beach that low tide is a must for a good visit.

Tiverton Balancing Rock

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Natal Day Monday is a holiday in Nova Scotia, so – we went to Tiverton to see the balancing rock.  (We also went whale watching – but that was in the Zodiac and not walking!)  The balancing rock is pretty amazing.  A tall column of basalt seems to balance almost on tiptoes on a ledge of more rock.  It is nine metres tall.  The  trail leading to the shore and the  rock covers some boggy ground, great habitat for tamarck (Larix laricina). You can see trees up close along the trail.  Tamarack are the only conifer trees in the area that loose their needles in the winter.

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After the rock the most spectacular part of the trail is the stairs, all 337 steps of the stairs, on the trail, down the shoreline cliff to the rock.  That is a lot of steps, and the kids in our group counted them, just to make sure the signs were accurate.

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This is a trail for the fit, or for those who wish to go at a relaxed pace.  The balancing rock is a popular destination for tourists and locals and other images and information are avaible.

Waterfalls galore at Victoria Beach

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This is definitely the summer to see waterfalls in Nova Scotia.   Last Saturday we pushed through the alders and brush to make our way to the beach on the promise of waterfalls.  We had seen this shore last year from Point Prim and so after all this rain set out to see the waterfalls up close.  We weren’t disappointed.  They were great, even spectacular.

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The shore is actually a bit past Victoria Beach and below what may be more properly called Shag Cliffs.  There is no beach below the cliffs at high tide.  We arrived just as the tide had turned and was beginning to fall and so got wet walking out to the falls.  These cliffs are really something – not too many places in Nova Scotia to see them from below like this.

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Access to this shore is difficult:  the climb to the shore was steep; walking on the cobble beach was uneven and walking farther down the shore to the more distant waterfalls was treacherous – once the tide went out.  (At high tide when we arrived you can’t walk to the falls.)  The rock fall from the cliffs was jagged and sharp.  It had not been worn by the waves at all.  We speculated that these rocks had fallen just this past winter.

For more pictures visit flickr.