One of the best times to visit Nova Scotia is in autumn. A quiet hangs over the seacoast and surrounding forests. Nature is dressing for her biggest show of the year. Summer has given way to warm sunny days and cool made for walking evenings. The mosquitoes and black flies are gone and the air smells of ripening wild apples and spruce, and the salty tang of the ever present sea. The Acadian boreal forests that spill over hills and valleys from the edge of the Atlantic coastline make a final show of brilliant colour that defies belief. It doesn’t get much better than this.
The Eastern Shore is a perfect place to explore the natural fall splendor that has made Nova Scotia famous the world over. For the fall traveler, there are almost as many outdoor choices as in the summer, but with fewer crowds. River canoeing, kayaking are popular, but for those who just want to spend a few gentle (and drier) hours communing with nature, the eastern shore offers a network of walking and hiking and trails.
From the Harbour to the Valley, this area definitely tops the list. Loads of hardwood with enough brilliant red maple and bright yellow ash to make your vision blur. Take a walk on the Musquodoboit Trailway (part of the Trans-Canada Trail System). The Valley is one of the most beautiful fall drives in the province. Centered in Middle Musquodoboit, it can be accessed by car through Highway #7 from Halifax or #224 from Sheet Harbour.
Bay of Islands Region
From Sheet Harbour to Sherbrooke, the Bay of Islands is a stretch of unspoiled vistas along the coast. Small fishing communities dot the highway and everywhere, the forests are ablaze and reflected in the rivers, lakes and coves. This area is home to many sea kayak routes and 4 of the province’s 30 proposed wilderness areas. Boggy Lake, Alder Grounds, Liscombe River (pdf) and Big Bog were designated in the 1998 Bill 24. Keep your eye out for the rolling Eastern Shore Drumlins. The tops are covered in red maple and birch. Magnificent.
At Moser River, take a drive up the Wilson’s Falls Road toward Kelly Lake. The Kelly Lake region is closed to bird hunters (although larger game is still unprotected). You might glimpse deer, moose, bear, fox, coyote and lots of smaller wildlife… if you’re really quiet. Seaward, you’ll see hundreds of small islands. Part of this outcrop scattering includes The Eastern Shore Wildlife Management area, a group of 70 islands that have been protected since 1976 for their nesting colonies of seabirds and Grey Seals. The islands, bearing intriguing names like Pumpkin, Frying Pan and Brokenback are popular with sea kayakers and sailboat enthusiasts.
St. Mary’s River
From Sherbrooke to Antigonish, Highway 7 ambles along the St. Mary’s River through one of the most stunning autumn drives in the whole province. The St. Mary’s is world famous for her salmon This is an area of rolling farmlands where Dutch dairy and crop farmers spread their countryside charm over the landscape. On the hillsides, there are huge stands of hardwood that spread their reflected colours across the river, a treasure for painters and photographers.