Trail length - 5.6 miles
Difficulty - Pretty friggin’ easy
Google Map Directions from Halifax - http://g.co/maps/w2z52
Trail conditions - Decent (some ice)
Today, I decided to check out the Bluff trail near Timberlea. The wilderness area is a short drive from downtown Halifax (only about 20 minutes), and is very easy to find. The trail is maintained by the Woodens River Watershed Environmental Organization, and exists on “crown land”. It consists of a series of four loops which go deeper and deeper into the wilderness. The WRWEO built these trails in hope that it would spread awareness about the delicate beauty of this area. They ask hikers to stick to the trail in order to prevent damage to the fragile ecosystem.
The trail was well maintained, and seemed well traveled for February. It was also very well marked and easy to follow. This of course only applies to the first loop (Pot Lake Loop), I can not speak for the other loops as I was too lazy to get up early enough to make that long of a trek. I imagine they are just as nice, but with less traffic. There were signs posted all over the place warning about bears and moose, I didn’t see any, but it seemed like the kind of place that could harbor that kind of wildlife. It would be nice if there was more snow on the ground to check for footprints, but alas this has been the winter that jack frost forgot.
The trail starts out on a really wide footpath that I thought was the Bluff trail itself but was actually more of a portal trail. There were lots of dog walkers and the sound of the nearby highway 103 initially had me thinking this wasn’t going to be such a wilderness experience after all. I even think I went the wrong way at first because I didn’t see any sign for the Bluff Trail at the portal (make sure you take a right from the parking lot). To my relief the real Bluff Trail quickly left behind the Sunday dog walkers and the noisy highway and immediately felt out there. It starts out going along Cranberry Lake and there are some really nice views right off the bat like these sweeties right here:
I mean Christ you could just sit down, drink a beer, and turn right around feeling satisfied with your day at this point, but there was more trail to see, so I pushed on.
The trail very gradually climbs up out of the woods and onto the bluff. From this vantage you get even more vistas and lots of cool little low-growing, wetland plants. There are tons of rocks to sit on and eat your lunch, about halfway around Pot Lake I sat down with my PB & J and a beer to celebrate getting the eff out of the city.
Nothing quite like cracking a bottle of suds out there in the wilderness. The little bit of alcohol helped to warm my bones and provided a little extra spring in my step for the return journey as I came around the horn. On the way back you enter into a more wooded area that has a couple of icy patches due to shade from the trees, but it was nothing this one-beer-buzzed Ranger couldn’t handle. Eventually the loop was done and I returned to the incessant drone of cars on the highway, which you actually have to pass underneath to get back to the parking lot. By the time I got back to the car it had only been two hours altogether which seemed short. I’m sure I would have taken longer to enjoy the trail in the summer but it’s hard to walk leisurely when all of your voluntary muscles are clenched against the icy grip of old man winter.
Overall, this walk is highly recommended. It is not too strenuous, and you get a lot of bang for your buck. I only wish that I could have been less of a lazy ass and gotten going earlier to check out some of the other loops, next time (maybe)!
This hike gets:
4/5 trail beers!
If you’d like to see my route and find out where some of the pictures were taken, feel free to check out my EveryTrail account here:
Remember, if you do choose to go on any of these hikes, especially in the cold months, be sure to be prepared. I like to bring enough stuff so that I could potentially spend a night out there if I had to, here’s a sign pointing out important items you should bring:
-Walker, NS Ranger