above the Bay of Fundy
Cape Chignecto Provincial Park
©Outdoor Adventure Canada
Chignecto Provincial Park, located in Advocate Harbour, Nova Scotia,
rises above the Bay of Fundy and has 29 km (18 miles) of coastline.
It is an area full of Mi'kmaq legend. One of the legends speaks
of the Mi'kmaq God, Glooscap, who was moose hunting when his prey
was chased off by three dogs. In retaliation Glooscap turned the
three dogs into what is known as the Three Sisters and he made
the moose immortal by turning him into "Isle Haute".
It is the Three Sisters that first piqued my interest in the day
hikes on Cape Chignecto's coastline.
The trails range in difficulty from
easy to very challenging and all of the trails can be done in
one day except for the Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail which has
a three to four day completion time. The shortest trail leads
to the beach at Red Rocks and is considered an easy trail taking
only a half hour to complete. The next in difficulty is the Christie
Viewpoint Trail which visits an old farmstead, now abandoned,
and provides spectacular views from the Escarpment. The trail
takes under an hour to complete.
The Fundy Ridge Trail and McGahey
Brook Canyon Trail are more challenging and both take about 4
hours to complete. The Fundy Ridge Trail is 5 km (3 miles) long
and has beautiful views. Be sure to check the tidal schedule.
You will reach elevations of approximately 150 m (164 yards).
The McGahey Brook Canyon Trail hooks up with the Fundy Ridge Trail
to form a 9 km (5.6 mile) loop.
The Mill Brook Canyon Trail can be
done as a full day trip or as an overnight trip. It is a steep
trail with amazing views from the top of the canyon. This is not
a loop trail and the total distance for the trip is 15 km (9 miles)
including the return journey. The Refugee Cove Trail is also very
challenging and like the Mill Brook Trail can be done with an
overnight stay. It is a 12 km (7.5 mile) journey with a campsite
at Refugee Cove. The beach is not an appropriate return route
because of the tides. There are large hills on this trail reaching
over 200 m (218 yards) and at times you will descend to almost
the elevation as the ocean.
The Eatonville Trail should only be
attempted by experienced hikers as it is steep and long, about
20 km (12 miles) including the return trip. You will see the Three
Sisters from this trail and visit Eatonville which was a busy
community in the 1890's but is now only the remains of cellars
and mills. If you plan your trip right you can even access the
Three Sisters during low tide. More information about the Three
Sisters and the tides can be obtained from the Visitor Center.
Chignecto is a relatively new wilderness park that was opened
in the summer of 1998. It is the biggest provincial park in the
province, 4200 hectares (10378 acres), and is home to all types
of wildlife including wildcats, peregrine falcons, black bear,
moose and seals. Cape Chignecto Provincial Park is open every
year in May and there is a small fee for using the park.
Cape Chignecto Provincial Park is
heaven for day hikers and backpackers alike. It delights us with
incredible views from the top edge of the Chignecto Fault and
the area is full of culture, legend and history. On your next
trip to Nova Scotia be sure to include a day hike at Cape Chignecto
in your itinerary.
Visit the Cape
Chignecto website for more information on this incredible
Three Sisters Photo courtesy Cumberland Regional Economic Development
Photo of hikers courtesy Nova Scotia Tourism, Culture & Heritage