Nova Scotia

Outdoor adventurers encourage Canada Day exploring

Outdoor enthusiasts share their favourite beautiful spots just a short drive from the city.

Get out and enjoy these beautiful spots, a short drive from Halifax

Dale Dunlop (left) and Ryan Barry enjoy a canoe ride. (Dale Dunlop)

Outdoors enthusiasts are sharing a few nearby hidden gems, hoping to encourage people to explore this Canada Day weekend.

"In urban parks, a lot of times you drive up, you have a view, and you don't have to go far," author Ryan Barry, who has co-written a book with Dale Dunlop about local outdoor adventure spots, told CBC's Mainstreet on Thursday.

But Nova Scotia holds a variety of naturally beautiful spots, a great deal of which are only a half hour from the municipality. 

"The idea was to get people active, get them to understand the beauty of what we have within a very short distance of downtown," Dunlop said.

Birch Cove Lakes a favourite

Those might be family-friendly spots, or rigorous hikes, like at the Crowbar Lake Trail in Porters Lake. 

One of Dunlop's favourites is the trail around Birch Cove Lakes near the Bayers Lake Business Park.

"It's ironic that the very first entry in the book has become mired in controversy," he said. 

Apartments, traffic disappear

A proposal before Halifax regional council to develop land within a proposed Blue Mountain Birch Cove Regional Park has been met with strong opposition from the community. A recent public consultation was called "a gong show" by an attendee who said the room was too small, and people weren't allowed to ask questions.

That aside, Dunlop said people should take advantage of that nature now.

"If you take a canoe in there, within minutes the apartment skyline that's behind you disappears and the traffic from the [Bicentennial Highway] disappears," Dunlop said. "Truly, you're in a wilderness area."

View of the proposed Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Regional Park. (

'A natural castle'

Barry encourages visitors to explore the little known snorkeling spot at Indian Island, near Peggys Cove. There are no signs, he said, but seeing its amphitheatre is worth the work. 

"When you get there, it almost looks like a natural castle. It's absolutely amazing," Barry said. 

"Tens of thousands of people go to Peggys Cove, but when you get out there in the barren lands by Indian Island and the beautiful pools where you can snorkel, and you turn the corner and get to the amphitheatre — I think people are going to be truly amazed and blessed."

The amphitheatre on Indian Island, near Bridgewater. (Ryan Barry)

Preserve 'true wilderness'

And while the spots are easy to find, they're not all easily accessible, something Dunlop supports. 

"It's important to preserve the true wilderness areas by making the access difficult," Dunlop said. 

"If you let everyone in there that wants to drive up, then there will be a demand to put washrooms and facilities and litter bins — and that's not a wilderness experience."

Good weather ahead

Weather this weekend is forecasted to hold sun, only a little rain, and temperatures above 20 C.

Barry and Dunlop have co-authored a book, Outdoor Adventures in Halifax: 25 Exciting and Little-Known Adventures Less Than 30 Minutes Away.

With files from Angela MacIvor and CBC Mainstreet