This is the trail it all started at. Where I first found my passion for trail running and spending more time in the great outdoors. Yep this is where it all began….the legend, the mystery, and well yeah. Prior to this I was your stereotypical muscle bound slow pitch fun loving dad. But now I am that care free, passionate about nature, and happy runner who keeps enough muscle mass on to keep my wife satisfied. Many hours were spent grinding it out on the trails of Musquodoboit to get me to where I am today.
For those of you have hiked or ran these trails I am sure you understand how spectacular they are. Although there may not be any huge summits or it may not hug the ocean’s shore, the views are amazing. If you want challenging single track with lots of winding ups and downs this trail is for you. If instead you want to take a long easy run past some lakes and wetlands you have that here as well.
The Musquodoboit Trailways starting point is at an old rail station located right in the heart of the quaint community of Musquodoboit Harbour 35 minutes east of Halifax. Maps are located both in the rail station and also inside an old caboose during the summer. The rest of the year you can find a printable map at the trail associations’ website here is the link
Although the trail starts at the rail station a majority of the people using the trails jump on them behind the community centre. It is only a couple of blocks over and has ample parking. Here you begin on an old rail trail that currently extends for 14.5km in one direction. I have run this return trip several times and recommend it for someone who doesn’t want to hit the hills. Lots of great views of nature along the way.
As soon as you head up the trail you know you picked the right one as you cross an old rail bridge over the Musquodoboit River. Be sure to take a quick second and admire the wetland. As you continue along the rail trail you will likely pass many friendly locals who will say hey. Be prepared that lots of people do have their dogs off leash as everyone here pretty much knows each other. My dogs I think were more popular in the community then I was, at least by name.
Quickly as you run along the main trail you’ll come upon a turn off on your right. This is in fact a trail and I have spent many a times running along here. If you stay on it after several hundred meters you will join up with the Bayer Lake Loop. The other option is to continue along the rail trail until you come upon the first access to Bayer Lake Loop and follow the trail in this direction. If short on time but you still want a challenging run with a look off I highly recommend this loop. Tied in with the main trail this works out to be approx a 5 km round trip.
When travelling along Bayer lake loop you will quickly realize that this is not going to be a simple run. There are rocks and roots everywhere right from the get go, this is typical of trails on the eastern shore. Be sure to keep those feet moving fast. Within a couple hundred meters you will quickly climb a granite ridge which provides a great view of a Bayer Lake and the surrounding hills. As you traverse the ridge you’ll have an opportunity to travel fast over technical terrain. On to the decent be sure to keep your feet moving in order not to smash your face of a rock. It is rocky and drops quickly.
The other main trail that I spent many a time running was the Admiral Lake Loop. It also begins at Bayer Lake Loop starting point but you continue to carry on past the intersection. Again the initial km or so is very rocky but fun. After climbing a rock waterfall you will be rewarded with some excellent single track and great views in all directions. This is when you realize how remote the area is. Right from the beginning you will experience roots and constant climbing and descents which will continue on throughout the run. This 5km trail is challenging as it has an elevation gain of 395m and elevation loss of 387m. Even the best of us will get that heart rate racing on this trail.
My highlights for Admiral Lake Loop include The Cave, which is two massive granite stones forming a tunnel, and Jesse’s Diner. If you brought a snack I suggest you stop at the diner, enjoy the view and then begin your decent. It is a quick one as it drops a couple hundred feet real fast. This was my main hill while living in the harbour that I used for repeats.
Both Bayer Lake Loop and Admiral Lake Loop finish at Bayer Lake. What a way to finish. On really hot days I liked to step into the water for a quick cool off before I headed back into town. If with your family there is a picnic shelter there that you can stop and hangout at.
Be sure to check out the Musquodoboit Trailways Association site as there are also a couple of other longer trails along the North and South ridges. Personally I never ran them but I do know others who have and feel that they are challenging but rewarding runs. With the remoteness of the trail system including the smaller ones be cognizant of your surroundings as there is an abundance of wildlife in the area. Both bear and coyote are common.
After your run be sure to head back into the Harbour and enjoy some eats at the local shops including Dobbit’s Bakery and Uprooted Market and Cafe. Both of these are See R Dad Run recommended. There is also a great little community market on Sunday mornings that has fresh local vegetables and some amazing baked goods. If the beach is more to your liking guess what you’re in luck. Just south of the village is one of the best sandy beaches on the east coast Martinique Beach.
So be sure to check out this great hidden gem of a running trail system on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia.