Exploring trails is a beautiful and exciting way to keep active at any age. Something a bit magical happens when you hear the sound of wind and birdsong, and the smell of moss and earth. From stunning coastal views, to secluded, mossy woodland, to sweet single track, the Northumberland Shore has something special for every interest. Lace up your hiking boots and hit the trail with this guide to a few great destinations near you.



(Pictou waterfront through River John)
Pictou to Lyon’s Brook
Length: 43km
Difficulty: Easy, flat, combination of paved and gravel surfaces
Part of the Trans Canada Trail System

Waterfront Trail (3km)
Uses: Biking, walking, snowshoe, cross-country ski

The Jitney Trail begins at the Pictou Marina and continues for 3 kilometres along the beautiful Pictou waterfront. The first kilometre of the trail is paved and offers panoramic coastal views, benches and interpretive signage to share the story of the community and the historic railway that once operated along the route. Stop at the historic landing site of the Ship Hector, which brought many of the first Scottish settlers to Nova Scotia in 1773.

Short Line Rail Trail (40km)
Uses: Biking, walking, snowshoe, cross-country ski, off-highway recreational vehicles, equestrian

At the “Gut Bridge,” a lovely look-off in the community of Lyon’s Brook, the Jitney Trail crosses Hwy 376 and follows the restored Short Line Railway for 40 kilometres as a wide, mixed-use gravel trail. This section welcomes walkers and runners, cyclists, off-highway recreational vehicles, and equestrian riders. The trail is built and maintained by community volunteers, and passes through several lovely rural communities along its route. The trail crosses ravines and bridges, through shady tree canopy, farms and fields of crops and grazing animals. A highlight of this trail is the 366ft River John Rail Bridge offering outstanding views of the river and surrounding ravine. As part of the Trans Canada Trail, the Jitney connects directly with the Short- Line trail in Colchester. A great trail for a day’s cycling adventure between Pictou and Tatamagouche.

How to find it: The Jitney Trail can be accessed at a number of points. Parking areas can be found at the Pictou Marina, In Lyon’s Brook at Haliburton Rd., and at several locations along the rail line. In River John, access the trail from West Branch Rd.



Length: 8 km
Difficulty: Moderate, hills, crossing streams, natural surface
Uses: Hiking, biking
Part of the Cape to Cape Trail System

A scenic climb through historic homesteads where remains of farm equipment and old rock walls can be glimpsed through the forest that has reclaimed the area. From the summit there is a gorgeous, panoramic view of the Northumberland Strait and Prince Edward Island. The trail also connects to Smith’s Rock Chalets, where visitors can stay overnight in a mountaintop retreat.

How to find it: Park near the Scotsburn Elementary School, 4100 Scotsburn Rd. The entrance to the trail is located just behind the tennis courts at the adjacent park.


Length: 5 km
Difficulty: Moderately to challenging, some steep climbs, crossing streams, natural surface
Uses: Hiking
Part of the Cape to Cape Trail System

Travel along the Six Mile Brook, through mixed woodland, on a historic route once used by highland settlers to access their homesteads on Dalhousie Mountain. Visit the Willis Cemetery at the end of the trail and see the names of these early pioneers. A special feature on the trail is the Jack and Doris McLaughlan Bothy, a cabin where hikers can camp overnight. It is free to use, available on a “first come, first served” basis and a wonderful place to spend the night immersed in woodland seclusion.

How to find it: Find the trail head by taking Six-Mile Brook Rd, across from Salt Springs Provincial Park. The road turns to dirt, and ends at a gravel quarry. There is a parking area and sign kiosk to the right, over a small bridge.


A system of connected hiking trails that, when complete, will be the longest hiking trail in Nova Scotia, and bring hikers on a multi-day adventure from Cape George in Antigonish to Cape Chignecto in Colchester County. A work in progress by a group of dedicated volunteers.



Total Length: 4.3km (combined)
Difficulty: Easy, flat, gravel surface
Uses: Hiking, walking, biking
Part of the Trans Canada Trail System

These two trails make up a popular, connected route from New Glasgow to Stellarton, along the Trans Canada Trail. Following the East River, this route offers ample rest areas with seating, small parks, and expansive views of the river and surrounding landscape. Points of interest on this route include the Town of New Glasgow’s Riverfront Marina and Saturday Farmers Market, the Nova Scotia Museum of Industry, as well as access to downtown shops and restaurants in both communities.

How to find them: There are many ways to access this trail along the route, and ample parking. New Glasgow (Samson) access points are Kinsmen Look-Off, Carmichael Park, George Street Pedestrian Bridge, Rotary Park and Duff Cemetery. In Stellarton, (Albion) enter the trail at Bridge Avenue, or behind the ballfield at Foord St.


Total Length: 6.2 km
Difficulty: Moderate, some climbs, natural surface
Uses: Hiking
Part of the Cape to Cape Trail System

Visit Sugar Moon Farm, a working maple syrup production farm in the Cobequid Hills, and take a step out onto Rogart Mountain Trail. The trail passes through mixed deciduous woods, including many mature sugar maples, of course! Find old stone walls, several brooks and look-off areas, Jane’s Falls, and views of Nuttby Mountain, the highest peak in Nova Scotia.

How to find it: Find the trailhead at Sugar Moon Farm on Alex MacDonald Road, off Route 311 in Earltown.


Length: 26 km
Difficulty: Easy, flat, gravel surface
Uses: Walking, snowshoe, cross-country ski, off-highway recreational vehicles
Part of the Trans Canada Trail System

This 25-km multi-use rail trail has numerous access points, and connects directly with the Jitney Trail in Pictou as part of the Pictou to Oxford route on the Trans Canada Trail. It features access to Creamery Square, the Tatamagouche Farmer’s Market, and the Train Station Inn. From the trail, users can view Tatamagouche Bay, and cross impressive bridges over French and Waugh rivers. The section through Tatamagouche is known as Butter Trail, named after the Tatamagouche Creamery.

How to find it: Parking and access are available at these locations:

  • 24 Station Road, off Main Street, Tatamagouche
  • 29 Creamery Road, off Main Street , Tatamagouche
  • 40 King Street, near Patterson Wharf Park, Tatamagouche
  • Nelson Memorial Park, 153 Loop of Hwy 6, west of Tatamagouche
  • Sutherland Steam Mill Museum, 3169 Hwy 326, Denmark


Length: 40km (various trails)
Difficulty: Beginner to Expert
Uses: Mountain bike

On the site of a former alpine ski resort, Keppoch is a dynamic and exciting series of trails for mountain biking, hiking and winter activities. The facility is open year-round and hosts a variety of activities and events. There are washroom facilities, a well-appointed club house, and a seasonal shuttle that transports bikes and riders to the summit for an exhilarating ride down the mountain.

How to find it: 193 Keppoch Rd, Antigonish Co., NS B2G 2K8


Length: 37 km (various trails)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderately Challenging
Uses: Hiking
Part of the Cape to Cape Trail System

The Cape George Heritage Trails consist of a series of connected loops and linear sections on Cape George peninsula, overlooking St. Georges Bay. Fantastic panoramic views can be experiences at various points along the trail system. Depending on the trail, the degree of difficulty can range from easy to challenging. Rest benches are available throughout, and the trails are well signed. Enjoy coastal walks, waterfalls and even a bubbling natural spring. A must-hike in Northern Nova Scotia.

How to find it: Trail heads are accessible at the following locations:

  • Cape George Heritage School – 578 Hwy 337, Cape George
  • Cape George Point Lighthouse – 152 Lighthouse Road, Cape George Point
  • Ballantyne’s Cove Tuna Interpretive Centre – 57 Ballantyne’s Cove Wharf Road


Length: 1.6 km (plus opportunity for coastal walk)
Difficulty: Easy, gravel path
Uses: Walking, biking

This 1.6 km loop trail passes through wooded areas, and out to an interpretive viewing platform where visitors can learn about the diverse fossils that are plentiful in the beach rocks below. Another viewing area overlooks Arisaig Brook and a small waterfall. The rocky beach is a perfect place for walking and rock hounding. Powerful tidal erosion has left unique holes in the cliffs. Photo and exploration opportunities abound on this lovely shoreline. Exercise caution when exploring near the actively eroding cliffs.

How to find it: Arisaig park is located at 5704 Hwy 245, Arisaig, Northumberland Shore


“The Great Trail” will be connected from coast to coast…to coast, this year to mark Canada’s 150th birthday. Watch for official opening events locally, and across the nation, on August 26th, 2017.

The Trans Canada Trail links 15,000 communities along 24,000km, the longest recreational trail in the world.


Looking for more trails? Find information here:


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Sally O’Neill is a hiker, trail builder and lifelong outdoor enthusiast. She is the coordinator of Active Pictou County and represents the Highland Region on the Nova Scotia Trails Federation. She believes most problems can be solved by sun on your face, and wind in your hair.