Crowbar Lake

view of West Lake, HRMCrowbar Lake Hiking Trail is part of a system of 18 km trails less than an hour away from Halifax.  We had a great day hiking there last month – a really great day!  I recommend this trail system. The trail traverses dry granite ridges and boggy low areas.  When I made a list, several days after the hike, of plants observed and remembered – it reflects typical Nova Scotian habitat for the eastern shore: pine, spruce, witch hazel, clintonia, bunchberry, twin flower, jack in a pulpit, sphagnum moss, pitcher plant, orchids, blueberry, and leather leaf.

We also saw some Indian Pipe, Monotropa uniflora.  It’s not rare, but not always seen or noticed. An interested flowering plant with no chlorophyll. A great photo and explanation from one of my favorite blogs, Botany Photo of the Day.

Monotropa uniflora on Crowbar Lake Trail, July, 2013The trail goes up and down – really up and down those ridges.  We made it as far as part way around West Lake – the second loop; and this took about 4 hours.  To complete all the loops would be a long day…maybe this fall.  The trail is narrow and fairly well maintained by volunteers in a provincial wilderness area, Waverly – Salmon River Long Lake Wilderness Area.

A previous hike is here.

And our friend along the trail:

American Toad

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Morrel along the trail

morrel mushroom in OntarioMorrel mushrooms are always a pleasant surprise to me.  While walking the blue trail at Trent University a few weeks ago we were lucky to spot them.  This trail is not a long walk, but very enjoyable as it passes through cedar woods, along maple swamps and old fields. – Lots of different things to see as you walk along the trail.

wetland with maplesTrent U. has a nature area with a selection of trails.  And although we only walked one, some follow the banks of the Otonabee River for a bit.  In the spring these trails are quite wet and rubber boots (which we did not have) are recommended.  Local visitor centres carry a pamphlet with a map and info and the university website also provides maps and background about the trails.

And yes, for those who may be wondering, Nova Scotia also has morrels!

Woods trail at Taylor Head

On Saturday last, we walked the beach trail and the spruce woods trail to a look-off at Taylor Head Provincial Park.  The weather was fabulous for our visit to the park! This was our fist time along the Bob Bluff Trail and it offers great views out to the ocean from a trail that winds through old spruce woods.  In fact, while the trail is well marked and easy to follow, it does not appear to have a lot of traffic.  The low scrub along the way overhangs the trail and made me wish for long pants instead of the shorts I was wearing.   Now, we plan to return in the fall and walk the entire Bull Beach Trail – we only did about 1/2 or perhaps a bit less; partly because unless you work out a car shuffle, this linear trail must be a to and fro hike – not quite so fun when prickles are scratching or tickling your legs!

Nova Scotia

Other posts about this park highlight other trails.  Check out my map and the Friends of Taylor Head.

Old Annapolis Road Trail

Spring flowers continue to abound in the woods and on our hike this past Sunday, I had a chance to take a few more flower pictures.  Besides flowers we saw an American Toad – very common and very photogenic!

Coptis groenlandica

There were signs of squirrels all along the trail – pine cones that had been taken apart piece by piece to free the pine seeds. It’s been years since we’ve seen frogs eggs, so I couldn’t resist sharing that image too.

The trail is a lovely walk in the woods; and the forest under story is wonderfully intact compared to some other areas near Halifax.  Mountain bikers also use the trail and so some low sections are churned up, wet moss, duff and earth.

The trail, the Old Annapolis Road Trail, is close to Halifax, but somewhat complicated to find.  Michael Haynes book, Trails of Halifax Regional Municipality, provides excellent directions and I have marked the trailhead location on my map.

This trail was previously maintained by the Bowater-Mersey Paper Company Ltd., however the company is now owned by Resolute Forest Products and they are not maintaining the trail.  This may (almost certainly will) be an issue in the future as the various boardwalks and bridges decay, but on Sunday the everything was fine.  The trail is located on land managed, if not owned by the paper company.

Spring flowers in Nova Scotia

painted trillium along Bluff Wilderness Trail in Nova Scotia

Lady's Slipper  along Bluff Wilderness TrailIt was a fabulous long weekend and there was time for so much more than usual  – a long hike, extra work, bike riding, a walk to the waterfront and lazing in the sun …

Some of the blooms we saw on our weekend walk/hike were painted trillium, pink lady’s slipper, rhodora, clintonia (blue bead lily), and northern starflower.

Even though these flowers bloom in the spring, they are not strictly speaking “spring ephemerals”. The Nova Scotia Wild Flora Society explains why. The bloom may be ephemeral but the plant itself is not so quick to fade.  Perhaps next time out we will see some real spring ephemerals, but being ephemeral…

Our hike along the Pot Lake Loop of the Bluff Wilderness Trail was just grand. Besides all the blooms, there were great views from high points on the trail. We stopped for lunch  on a granite rock above Pot Lake.  As we absorbed the quiet, a loon swam in the lake. Bluff Wilderness Trail, Nova Scotia The trail climbs up to the edge of a watershed and is somewhat rigorous. It is located in a wilderness area that is easily accessible from the HRM BLT trail, very close to Halifax. The Woodens River Watershed Environmental Organization supports this trail. They have done a great job and their website has excellent information about the trail, its natural environment and why they felt a trail would be a good thing.

If you drive to the area, parking is indicated on my map.

Up and down and around

Harbour Lookoff on Musquodoboit Trail “Strenuous climbs and panoramic views”  that’s what the sign at the trail head says and it’s all true! Several weeks ago we spent over 4 hours on the Admiral Lake and Bayer Lake Loops of the Musquodoboit Trailway.  We had a fantastic day. The hiking really was tough for this weekend hiker and it was a good thing that we began at noon and that the days are longer now.

Some views look all the way out the Atlantic Ocean (above).

view of Bayer Lake, Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia

Other views look over inland lakes, like Bayer Lake in Musquodoboit Valley.

Witches broom describes an abnormal plant growth.  There was a great example growing half way up a spruce tree along the trailway.  The growth hormones that promote this growth can be stimulated by a number of causes from fungus to insect damage.  I’ve posted a couple extra pictures here as well.

The Musquodoboit Trailways website has lots of information about their various trails and directions on how to find them.  These trails are about 40 minutes from Halifax.  Just a note:  I have placed these trails under degree of difficulty – medium because my rating system does not include a harder level; the loop trails really are challenging and you should allow time and be very fit.

Old growth forest

Cape Blomidon from South Mountain The view near the Wolfville Watershed Nature Preserve across a part of the Minas Basin to Cape Blomidon is excellent – truly. Last Sunday Scotian Hiker and co. completed a loop hike around part of the preserve.  Many in the group had been there on previous hikes and even skied there years ago, but for some of us, it was our first time.  I am so glad I found the time to go. It is a fabulous walk through some of Nova Scotia’s rare old growth hemlock forest.  The preservation of these 605 acres is the result of an agreement between the town of Wolfville and the Nova Scotia Nature Trust.  Following Ravine Trail led us over an old concrete dam – part of the old water supply system (and still a back-up system) for Wolfville.  This dam is along either the Duncanson Brook or Little Indian Brook as is this waterfall. There are now at least two rough trails in the preserve as well as the parking lot. The preserve is fairly close to Wolfville, but definitely off the beaten track, so it is important to plan how you will get there.  Check the map.