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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Upper Burnside Waterfalls

Spring is a great time to see Nova Scotia’s waterfalls.  On Sunday last, after a week or more of rain, we went on a waterfalls hunt.  We successfully found 2 out of 3 and so we plan to go back for the third. (We did find falls #3, after circling the same back roads twice. We heard it, but didn’t see it – at least not from below because we had run out of time to search for a clear path through the woods.) The first falls, Unnamed Falls, according to Allan Billard, was the tallest and most impressive.

waterfall in Musquodoboit ValleyThere was a sign in the woods that labeled these falls – “Fantum Falls”.  Neither of the two falls required long hikes to see them, although Unnamed Falls was at the end of a rough path (about 400 m) through woods and brush. The second falls, Burnside Falls, was very close to the road and a worthwhile addition to our list since we were in the area.  The local community has created a small park along the road with a long, steep stairway leading down to the falls.

waterfalls near Upper Burnside in Nova Scotia The waterfalls we planned to see were all in or near the Musquodoboit Valley.  The two falls shown are on my HRM map and directions can also be found by looking at photos by benoitlalonde on Panoramio.  From Halifax, visiting these falls is really a driving trip with stops for short hikes into the falls.

There are some lists about Nova Scotia waterfalls online.  There is also a great little book, that I refer to, Waterfalls, Nova Scotia’s Masterpieces, by Donna Barnett with text by Allan Billard.

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.

Uisge Ban Falls – Cape Breton

Last week we had the pleasure of discovering another Nova Scotian waterfall – Uisge Ban Falls, near Baddeck.  The day was lovely, the company great (nieces and their dad), and the vegetation absolutely lush!

A few mosquitoes, but not too bad since we kept moving.  The falls are located in a deep gorge (150 m), pretty neat all on its own.  As a prelude to Uisge Ban Falls this tributary to the river spills down the walls of the gorge.

The falls are really pretty spectacular (16 m) compared to those around Halifax, alas given the time of day (sun and angles), my photos don’t do the falls justice.  Try here for other photos.

These lovely falls are very accessible by following a short trail in the provincial park there.  Hiking at a leisurely pace with kids of various abilities took us about 2 hours in and out.  Great information is found on moosebait.com.

Saint Margaret’s Bay Rails to Trials – 3

We set out in a light drizzle on Sunday to do the next leg of the Saint Margaret’s Bay Trail.  The trail is easy, and the views should be great on the section we walked…on a clear day!  Not too far along the trail crosses a small stream, I think it is Smelt Brook (should have taken the gps – next time).  This section of the trail is edged on one side by a drop to the bay and on the other by a steep climb to higher land.  The brook practically falls down the hill creating a series of mini waterfalls.

These woods were delightful – pine, fir, spruce and maple.  The path following the brook was well traveled, but not so much that soil had been worn away.  And the farther we walked up the hill the more the moss and forest floor plants edged to the very banks of the brook.  One of the neatest things about these woods are the leafy like  lichens that grow on the tree trunks.

I’ve labeled this post – 3, because we had a walk several weeks ago continuing from where we ended on -1.  Yesterday we walked our third section – from the parking lot on the Station Road in Head of Saint Margarets Bay.  This is a linear trail which means unless you have arranged for rides you walk one way and then retrace your  footsteps – as we did.

Spring Waterfalls – Dawson Brook

On Saturday we returned to Dawson Brook Falls hoping to see the falls with spring water flows before the view was obscured by the leaves of summer.  It was a great short walk.  Follow these pictures along the brook to the falls.  This waterfall in a narrow gorge is actually a series of shorter falls as the pictures perhaps show partially.

The walls of the gorge are lined with moss on the exposed roots of the hemlock and pine trees along the sides/top of this mini-gorge.