Dams on Avon River

Excellent Day Sunday.  On the way back from Annapolis Royal we stopped to walk one of the trails, Moses Mountain, described by Michael Haynes in his book Hiking Trails of Nova Scotia.  The trail is really a primitive road used by NS Power to access two dams and power and pump houses. Haynes describes a walk/hike here as a circuit, but notes there is no bridge over the Avon at the west end of the circuit.  During the spring, in particular-this spring, on this Sunday, the water was too high to cross without hip waders. In warmer weather bare feet would be fine too.  We chose to follow the trail in the other direction, heading east. The walking is easy and in short order we began to climb.  The road lead to two dams*.

Avon River, MacDonald Dam

The MacDonald Dam is the smaller of the two – not too far from the power house.

The larger dam (below), Falls Lake Dam, is fairly dramatic hidden away in the woods as it is.  The falls before the dam was built must have been impressive.  It is still possible to get a sense of these falls and I hope that when we return and walk the other side of the river we will have a better view.

Avon River, Falls Lake Dam in Nova Scotia.

Our entire walk, about 7 km, took approximately 2 hours.  Directions to the start, as outlined in the book are clear, but since we came from the opposite direction, we did use a Nova Scotia map as well.  Location posted on my NS google map.

Moses Mountain is closer to the west end of the trail. Two young men we met at the river were hoping to cross and climb Moses Mountain.  They decided to follow the river’s edge looking for a place to cross.  Since we never crossed the river, we had no opportunity to climb Moses Mountain.  Another reason to return and do the alternate side of the trail.

It is important to note that Haynes’ book says that the NS Power bridge at the Falls Lake Dam is open.  When we were there (April 13, 2014) it was not open, so no circle walk would have been possible.

*Nova Scotia is dotted with small dams built through the 1930s and 1940s as part of a power generating system and these dams continue to function today.

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Dawson Brook Falls

Easy to find – no, but worth it – a delightful surprise in the woods.  Especially since we had already walked into and out of the woods once, before finding the path.  On our second attempt we opted to follow the stream.  Pine and spruce woods give way to pine and hemlock sprinkled with fir here and there.  These are lovely old, tall trees some of which have trunks that are 2-3 ft in diameter; too wide for my arms to surround.

These falls occur on Dawson Brook, which is just a small stream, but the falls are about 20-30 ft – quite a drop.  We set out today (early spring) hoping to see the falls with enough water to see waterfalls.  There was water – liquid and frozen.  The ground was frozen too, in fact the path was quite icy, limiting where we could go on the steep sides of the brook/gorge.

Dawson Brook Falls are actually close to the road, but there is no well marked trail and directions from different sources seem conflicting.  The best directions we found were in Waterfalls, Nova Scotia’s Masterpieces; but you may also find directions on various trail web pages.

Walking on the edge

Recently, we took the time to stop and walk the trails at the Mount Uniacke Museum in Mount Uniacke, Nova Scotia.  I have wanted to walk the trails at Mount Uniacke for a long time – since a friend mentioned them about 10 years ago, but we always drove by, perhaps because we were always going from there to here and here to there and not Mount Uniacke.  So, on Thanksgiving weekend we took the time to stop and walk.  The Estate was re-developed by the province (Nova Scotia museum system) a number of years ago (over 10) and has some wonderful trails.  There are easy accessible trials and longer trails  through the “wilderness”.

We had a wonderful, restful day.  I can’t say we strolled – since I rarely stroll, but it was a day of quiet exploration; first along an easy trial following original paths on the ‘estate’ and then along some the less accessible trails.

The museum has developed a clear and easy to use trail guide, available on site and on their web pages.  The trails on site are well marked and the times are accurate for average to brisk walkers.

Mount Uniacke, Nova Scotia is on the edge – on the edge of changing weather systems, on the edge of different water sheds.  It is a high point between Halifax, Nova Scotia and the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia.  It is here, as you head to the Annapolis Valley that you will leave the cool air of the Atlantic Shore behind for the warmth of the valley.  Check out these maps of elevation and water sheds (one and two) in Nova Scotia for some background about this subtle geographic separation between shore and valley.