Once the stomping ground of pirates and buccaneers, Nova Scotia now boasts treasures and adventures of another kind. Breathe in fresh Atlantic air just a few steps away from vibrant and welcoming communities. Immerse yourself in the wild landscapes and warm communities of Cape Breton, where Celtic traditions meet ancient Mi’kmaq heritage. No matter what you’re seeking, you’ll find your place on the province’s sections of the Trans Canada Trail.
Discover our Featured Hikes in Nova Scotia.
Bealach Brèagha Trail
Head out from Inverness on this lovely wilderness trail. “Bealach Brèagh” means “beautiful mountain pass” in Gaelic, reflecting not only the Scottish Gaelic culture and heritage of the area, but attesting to the route’s mountainous passage overlooking Lake Ainslie, Nova Scotia’s largest natural freshwater lake.
Two options are available: Margaree River Trail Walk, a level, easy walk beginning in Scotsville that follows the Margaree River, and a great stroller-friendly option for families of young kids. For a moderate hike, try the MacLean Mountain Lookoff. Climb to the top of the lookoff at East Lake Ainslie for stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Keep an eye out for eagles’ nests along your route.
Bras d’Or Lake Water Route
Bras d’Or Lake Water Route is a wilderness water trail on Bras d’Or Lake, located in Nova Scotia’s stunning Cape Breton Island.
The lake was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2011, and offers unique blend of both fresh and salt water. Home to a variety of sea life and birds, such as bald eagles and the great blue heron, the water route stretches just over 300 km and is a mecca for paddlers of all ages! The trail offers incredible view, and with plenty of water access point, it makes it easy to stop and explore the diverse and welcoming communities all along the way.
Celtic Shores Coastal Trail
This trail runs from Port Hastings to the Town of Inverness on the west coast of Cape Breton Island. Ideal for off-road cycling and long-distance trekking, it’s an easy, flat rail trail that offers the beauty of the Atlantic coast and access to the vibrant Celtic culture of local communities.
The magnificent landscape features picturesque wilderness and tranquil streams. This exceptional trail system is great for hikers, runners, bikers, horseback riders and skiers. Along the way, you’ll find active fishing harbours and warm water beaches in Port Hood, West Mabou and Inverness. Highlights include the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique, the Glenora Distillery in Glenville, and the Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs golf courses in Inverness.
However you choose to explore the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail, you’ll be treated to awe-inspiring natual beauty, and the vibrant Celtic culture of the region.
Situated near Truro, Nova Scotia, the Cobequid Trail is a 19-km walking and cycling trail network through central Colchester County.
The trail is great for walking and cycling in the warmer months, and cross-country skiing in the winter. Journey along a relatively flat trail, built along a former railway, through Acadian dikelands and farmland, through forests and along brooks following the beautiful Salmon River. Discover We’kwampekitk (the Mi’kmaq name for the Truro area), which means “the bay runs far up”.
Great for long-distance cycling, running or leisurely walks and wildlife viewing, the trail also has plenty of rest areas for you to stop and enjoy the views!
Guysborough Nature Trail
The Guysborough Nature Trail section of the Trans Canada Trail is located within the village of Guysborough. Plenty of short and medium options are available, or for the more ambitious, the trail from Guysborough to Country Harbour Cross Roads spans over 60 kilometres!
Take in lovely views of waterfalls and cross over a cable suspension bridge. In the summer, stop to pick blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and chokecherries. In the winter, head out for a cross-country ski or snowshoe. Several access points are available in Guysborough and along the route.
Guysborough Rail Trail
This section of the Trans Canada Trail runs east to west between Country Harbour Cross Roads and the town of Springville. Built on an abandoned railbed, this gravel trail is great for cycling, walking, hiking and horseback riding.
You’ll come across several bridges, each offering incredible views if the Salmon River. You can also check out Salsman Provincial Park and Boylston Provincial Park.
Harvest Moon Trailway
Traversing the Annapolis Valley, the Harvest Moon Trailway follows a former railbed and makes its way through beautiful towns, connecting the charming seaside town of Annapolis Royal and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Grand Pré.
This easy, flat trail is a great option for families, but is also good for long-distance trekking. Discover the area’s rich Acadian heritage as you travel along the Annapolis River. You’ll pass over two iconic railway bridges, travel through farmer’s fields, apple orchards, and the picturesque towns of Berwick, Kentville and Wolfville.
The Harvest Moon Trailway was one of the first trails to mapped in Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow’s accessibility mapping project. Thanks to the AccessNow platform and technology, people have access to a navigational resource to discover trail accessibility. The app can be downloaded/updated via Apple’s App Store or Google Play.
The Jitney Trail in Pictou is a beautiful recreational trail that runs along the Northumberland Shore from Pictou to Brown’s Point, the land site of the ship Hector, known for being part of the first significant Scottish migration to Nova Scotia in 1773.
Pictou is home to several historical points of interest including the Pictou Academy National Historic Site of Canada monument and the Pictou Railway Station National Historic Site of Canada. Check out the charming town of Pictou and take in classic Scottish architecture, its charming shops, museums and restaurants. Continue on the Trail and learn all about the history of the Trail and the region with the help of interpretive panels.
The Mastodon Trail begins in Carroll’s Corner, a rural community located in the Musquodoboit Valley. This wide gravel and crusher dust trail winds through mature forests of hemlock, maple, oak and pine trees, traverses open fields and crosses brooks, then concludes at a lookout overlooking the largest open pit gypsum mine in the world.
This trail route is also a well-known discovery site for ancient mastodon bones and other fossils. Stop at one of the benches along the trail and imagine mastodon roaming thousands of years ago.
Salt Marsh Trail
Situated on traditional Mi’kmaq territory, the Salt Marsh Trail is a pleasure to explore. This scenic trail on the old Musquodoboit rail bed crosses a shallow wetland via a long causeway and four bridges. Each bridge offers spectacular views of the water, coastal and migratory birds, fish, and sometimes clam diggers, depending on the tide. The flat, easy and popular trail is ideal for walking, biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fishing and bird watching.
Enjoy the dramatic tidal changes or stop at a bench along the trail to have a snack or simply enjoy the ocean vistas. The wooded sections of the trail light up with colour in the fall.
Short Line Railroad Trail
Explore Colchester County along this scenic trail that follows the former railway line along the North Shore. Managed and maintained by the Tatamagouche Area Trails Association, the Short Line Railroad Trail is great for walking, hiking, cycling or horseback riding.
The trail section through the village of Tatamagouche is known as the Butler Trail and you’ll be treated to incredible views of the Tatmagouche Bay from the impressive bridges that span over the French and Waugh Rivers. In Tatamagouche, don’t miss Creamery Square, home to a farmers market, heritage centre, arts centre, and boat shop. In Nelson’s Park, check out the stunning views and stop at the playground to let the little ones burn off some energy. In the winter, this trail is an excellent choice for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling or snowshoeing.
Short Line Trail
Running from just outside Tatamagouche to Oxford, the Short Line Trail was built on an old railbed in Cumberland County, making it a great choice for walking, hiking or cycling.
Journey out to Oxford, wild blueberry capital of Canada, and check out the shops and cafés, or park — and take a picture — at the giant blueberry for access to a family-friendly riverside hike. Near Wallace, cross over the Wallace River Railway Swing Bridge, which used to swing to allow vessels through, then stop for a bite and a break at a local restaurant.
Town of Stewiacke
The Town of Stewiacke features an ideal trail system for walking, hiking, cycling and cross-country skiing. This family-friendly trail winds along the Stewiacke River, boasting beautiful views, then loops around the local recreation grounds to Mastodon Ridge, home to a mini-golf course, ice cream shop and fun fort—a real treat for little ones—plus the Coldstream Clear Distillery for the grown-ups.
The river brings some added attraction: you can see the tidal bore come in from the Bay of Fundy twice daily! Check the tide tables in order to catch this, and keep an eye out for eagles and other birds.
Town of Trenton
Walk, hike, bike or cross-country ski at the Town of Trenton trail. Wind through trails amidst century-old trees, keeping an eye out for birds and other wildlife along the way.
Travel past the Trenton Airport along the Airport Route, which features an inclined section, making it ideal for advanced walkers or hikers. Easier options are the Founders Trail or Tree-O Trail, featuring nature views and peaceful vibes.
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