October 2002: Cape Chignecto Provincial Park


Advocate Harbour, Nova Scotia

Retreating glaciers helped carve Cape Chignecto that juts like an arrowhead into the eastern side of the Bay of Fundy, home of the highest tides in the world. Featuring 600-foot sheer cliffs and miles of broken shoreline, this wilderness has rarely been pierced. Acadain settlers were displaced by the British in 1755 and a lumbering community called Eatonville once supported 350 people in the late 1800s but only traces of that settlement remain. Red spruce, balsam fir, red maple, sugar maple, beech and birch have long since reclaimed the land. Today Cape Chignecto, a relatively new attraction, is Nova Scotia's largest provincial park and the only one operated by the local community.

Cape Chignecto Provincial Park is a hiker's paradise - save for a scatterign of picnic tables there are no other activities here. The centerpiece trail is the coastal footpath that travels west along Advocate Bay to Cape Chignecto from the Red Rocks Visitor Center and continues north along Chignecto Bay to Eatonville Harbour. Covering 30 miles through old growth forest, the cliffs are broken at regular intervals by plunging ravines. A 6-mile overland trails returns canine hikers to the starting point.

For those unable to devote days to this spectacular clifftop trail, a variety of day hikes up to nine miles in length poke out from the main trailhead. These range to a short stroll to the Red Rocks guarding the stony beach to steep 650-foot descents in canyons at McGahey Brook and Mill Brook. These rollicking trails are well-blazed by the local caretakers and the cliffside lookouts are fenced to keep dogs and humans from an untimely tumble.

The opportunity for your dog to play in the world's highest tides. The waves for canine swimmers are particularly frisky on Advocate Bay beaches where the water can rise at the rate of one foot per minute on the incoming tide. These tides can be quite dangerous, trapping unwary hikers against the cliffs so heed all posted warning signs.

Cape Split (Scotts Cove). Cape Split, a hook-shaped peninsula separating Minas Basin and the Bay of Fundy, is a short distance from Cape Chignecto Provincial Park across the water but to reach it by land you must drive a couple of hours around the bay. From the trailhead at the end of the road at Scotts Cove this 5-mile linear walk (on private land) leads to the tip of the peninsula that has been ripped apart by the relentless tidal action in the bay. The hikign is easy, slightly uphill, through dark and often wet woods. You seldom glimpse the surrounding sea until emerging onto grassy, unprotected ledges high above the water. Careful navigation can lead to the treacherous beach below before turning back on this rewarding hike.

Cape Chignecto is reached by remote, two-lane Route 209, off Highway 2, west of Parrsboro to the south and Amherst to the north.