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Exploring Parks in South West Nova Scotia

We decided to plan four nights of exploration in the Southwest portion of Nova Scotia


August for us has always been prime camping weather; the days are warm, the nights are cool and most of the bugs are long gone. So with that information, we decided to plan four nights of exploration in the Southwest portion of Nova Scotia.

Our first destination was at Thomas Raddall Provincial Park (GPS:N43 50.687 W64 55.182); almost halfway between Liverpool & Shelburne.

The park, which overlooks Port-Joli Harbour, is just one of three nature & wilderness reserves in the immediate area: Port Joli National Migratory Bird Sanctuary and Kejimkujik Seaside Adjunct National Park.

This provincial park quickly became our favorite within the provincial park system. The size & distribution of the campsites, facilities, access to hiking trails, white sand beaches and a relaxing atmosphere were the qualities we noted.

We decided to hike along the historic Port Joli Road down to the day-use beach area. Along the way we encountered a well maintained house and learned that the immediate area was settled by the MacDonald family in the mid 1800’s. A short distance past the house was the family cemetery. Spruce & old growth trees now eat up most of the view. I could imagine a very different looking landscape with the view of the ocean intermixed with the other early homesteads & fishing operations from that period just a few minutes away.

We were not far from a discovery we did last year (GPS: N43 54.556 W64 49.509): Carter’s beach. This is a public beach area. There are no parking lots or facilities. However the white sands along this area is considered the best in the province by some.

This year, we decided to drive in the other direction towards Shelburne. We ended up on historic Dock Street. Unknown to us was the rich shipbuilding & Loyalist history preserved at the various museums along the street. Across the harbour was our original destination: The Islands Provincial Park, the province’s first camping park.

I wanted to visit an Earthcache located at the park. An Earthcache is a special kind of geocache, where its goal is to educate about a specific geological aspect. The great part is that you can learn about an area and sometimes its forgotten past. This specific passage in the listing page caught my eye. All you need is a GPS and the starting waypoint (N43 45.866 W65 20.121).

[blockquote class=”{classname}”]Beginning in 1890 a high-quality granite known as “Scotia Grey” was quarried right here in what is now The Islands park. Remains of a quarry site can be seen behind the park office building along the edge of the campground road. This quarrying continued on and off until the 1960s. Its stones were used in architecture, for monuments, and for cobblestones in Nova Scotia as well as in Europe.

As you spend time exploring the park you will find evidence of drilling of many of the erratics. These general are not good quality granite blocks and it was used only in the building of foundations or bridges. The good quality granite used in buildings and monuments comes from deep under ground. While the granite quarry in the park was once a deep open pit it has since been filled in for safety reasons.[/blockquote]

With many places yet to visit, we had to continue on with our schedule. We packed our camping gear and headed inland to Kejimkujik National Park & Historic Site of Canada (GPS: N 44 26.283W 65 12.488).

We had a few goals during our stay at “Keji”; hike a trail or two and sign up for the petroglyph tour. But after reading the latest visitor guide, we decided that we needed to do more.

We got up early the next morning and proceeded to Jake’s Landing (GPS: N 44 23.956 W 65 13.105) to the boat launch. We were able to rent a canoe for an hour and opted for the easy paddle up the Mersey River. This was a great option as we discussed the possibility of paddling off to one of the many islands to camp at a back country campsite on our next visit.

After our paddle and a short hike, we drove deeper into the park towards Merrymakedge to enjoy some good old fashioned canteen food (GPS: N 44 23.083 W 65 12.466). Merrymakedge has an interesting history which we learned later that evening during the petroglyphs tour which is a must for any first-timers in to the park.

Back at the campground we took advantage of the internet cafe (GPS: N 44 24.293 W 65 14.806) to update the various news applications on my iPad via wifi. It made for great reading by the campfire.

My next 2 posts will be about Keji and a new geocaching program that will be offered in the park starting on October 16, 2010.


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