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10 Day Trip to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

10 Day Trip to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

Old Sep 28th, 2014, 07:22 PM
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10 Day Trip to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

We are planning a 10 day trip of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, flying in and out of Bangor, Maine in early October and could use some advice. We are traveling without kids and our main interest is in scenery, hiking, quaint towns, leisurely drives, wildlife. We will try to work in museums/history, local music, and a bit of city (presumably Halifax), but those goals are secondary. Our favorite scenery are cliffs, rocks, waterfalls, crashing waves, fall foliage, and winding roads. For hiking we prefer multiple short hikes (e.g., 0.5 to 2 miles each) over lengthy day hikes, but for the right scenery we’ll do longer hikes of up to 5 miles or so.

Definite plans so far include Fundy tides, Cabot Trail, and getting at least as far as Lunenburg/Mahone Bay area. Beyond that, we are flexible depending on time. Here is our tentative itinerary:

Day 1 – Fly into Bangor (arrive around 1:00 eastern time), head straight for NB and try to end up close to Fundy National Park (e.g., Alma, if we can get there in daylight).

Day 2 (and maybe 3?) – Fundy National Park, Hopewell Rocks, and that general area.

Next few days – Cape Breton, especially Cabot Trail and nearby areas.

Next few days – Head from Cape Breton, through Halifax, to Lunenburg/Mahone Bay area. Depending on time, possible routes back to Bangor we are considering are (1) inland route back across Amherst-Sackville crossing; (2) inland route to Digby + ferry back to NB; (3) long southwest coastal route through Yarmouth to Digby + ferry back to NB; or (4) even longer coastal route around southwest coast, through Digby, Wolfville, Truro, and back across Amherst-Sackville crossing (we know this last alternative is very optimistic!).

With that in mind, a few questions:

1. For day 1, should we head straight to FNP area, or is there anything worth the time investment along the way? (E.g., St. Andrews, Grand Manan, St. Martin/Fundy Trail Parkway?)

2. Best way to see Fundy tides in the FNP/Hopewell area? We know seeing low tide is a must, and we hope to see both low and high tides. Any suggestions? E.g., Would it make sense to catch one tide (low or high) at FNP and then the other tide (high or low) at Hopewell? Or is it worth trying to catch both low and high at a single location, so as to best appreciate the contrast? If so, which single location would you recommend?

3. For Cape Breton – since we like coastal scenery, our current thought is to follow the west coast of Cape Breton (Route 19, I think) after crossing the causeway, stay over in Cheticamp, do the Cabot Trail clockwise through Ingonish and St Ann area, perhaps staying the night in between (Cape North area, or really anywhere it makes sense in light of hiking and daylight). If we do that general route, and leave Cape Breton via either the west or east side of Bras d’Or lake (route 105 or 4, I think), we’d miss the inland part of the Cabot Trail between Baddeck and Margaree Harbour. Would that be a mistake? If so, is there a better 3-4 day route you’d recommend? Any preferences for heading south on the west side of Bras d’Or lake (route 105) vs. the east side (route 4)?

4. Big decision for us is Fortress of Louisbourg. We like history but aren’t really history buffs, so we’re wrestling with this one. It sounds interesting (and scenic as well?), but if we skip the Fortress (and also skip Sydney), it’ll leave a lot more time for the latter portion of the trip (Lunenburg and the southwest coast). Any suggestions re that trade off?

5. Any particular roads you’d recommend, given our preference for scenic roads, especially coastal? E.g., When we first head into NS from NB, take Route 6 along Cumberland Strait, or the Amherst-Parrsboro-Truro route that one commenter on another post recommended, or take what looks like the shortest route (Amherst-Truro-to points east via route 104)? And after leaving Cape Breton, we’re inclined to head to Halifax via Route 7 along the coast; but one commenter or another post suggested that route isn’t all that nice. Other opinions about that?

6. Particular hikes you’d recommend along Cabot Trail (we hear great things about Skyline; anything else?) or in Fundy Nat’l Park?

7. Thoughts on where/how to spend a day (or half day) in Halifax?

8. Thoughts on the four alternative routes from Lunenburg back to NB and Bangor that I’ve noted in my rough-draft itinerary above? Obviously very much time-dependent, but if you’d put any of those alternative routes in the “definitely try to do” or “waste of time” categories, that would be helpful for us to know.

I know we have a lot of questions. Thanks for any thoughts or advice.
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Old Sep 30th, 2014, 07:17 AM
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For your NB portion of your trip may I suggest Sussex as a hub between Bangor and the ocean. We are a town of 6000 and have 16 of the NB covered bridges in our area, are know as the Mural Capital of Atlantic Canada and have museums, hiking/walking trails, all types of sports venues, an indoor aquatic centre, biking etc. etc. Lots to do and see here, centrally located in the Golden Triangle an hour +/- from Saint John, Moncton and Frederiction. 30 minutes from the ocean with easy access. Check out our 4 star B&B at www.jonahplace.com and the Town website www.sussex.ca. Hope that helps on the first leg of your trip.
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Old Oct 4th, 2014, 07:33 AM
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LOL - good lord, you guys are better studied than I ever am, when browsing these posts.

So lets start with what I can add: Strongly consider the hike to Cape Split, NS. You drive to Wolfville, then out to Scots Bay... park... and then a gentle-ish hike of 5 hours round trip where at the (middle) you are out on the end of a cape, right in the middle of the Minas Channel. I am not a hiker, but I just knew I wanted to do it, and I just went... with snow on the ground, and in the middle of March.

Your listed interests seem in a way tailor-made for NS.

As to the best way to see the tides... Tide-watching is impractical in that nobody wants to waste six hours between high and low, so strategic planning is ideal, where you always have the tide schedule on-hand, and ideally cause yourself to cross back to the same area when the tide is opposite.

RE: question #5 ... Amusingly I have taken all 3 of those routes, and I'm the one who likes the Parrsboro-Truro path... mainly because it is peaceful and scenic in places... with the Fundy shore right there.

The route #6 path... found me in a cute little place called Pugwash... and I recall a railroad car there of some prominence... and then a rainy, tree-lined path which sorta went on longer than I wanted it to.

The #104... rolling hills and fields... surely the sort which is most ideal for your path back OUT of NS.

Oh, darn it, I learned something about NS, from another poster here... (the darn-it was my not remembering)... but now I solved that:

Near the town of Joggins, NS (not so far from Amherst)... investigate the http://jogginsfossilcliffs.net/

As it is Fundy tide-related, I was interested in their related questions even though I've never been... It could be of interest to you, given what you list above.

As for tide-watching... I... just love the simplicity that is seeing both high and low at the same place, for the mere black-and-white contrasts.

If you do it right, in various spots, you can have some of your 'hikes' be long walks out to the edge of the water, in as much sand as you've ever covered at the water's edge.

Question #1... I would go straight through at a decent clip to the Alma/FNP area

#4 - (and this sounds hasty)... but I lean toward skipping Sydney, et al ... given all you've said.

to #5 again: SOME coastal routes around NS can really draw you in, and (maybe even leave you regretting).

If you are daring enough to go toward Canso... and then southwest toward Halifax along #316 (toward #7)... know first that there is perhaps still a FERRY at Isaac's Harbour... which, when I was there, left once an HOUR, ON the hour... and it travels about the distance you can hit a golf ball.

... which is fine, if, like me, you arrived at 6:55pm... but how would you feel if you arrived there at 7:10pm, and had to wait for what would be then seem like THAT idiocy?

... then, that coastal drive (along #7) just goes and goes and GOES and goes and GOES... leaving you drained by the time you reach Halifax.


Hope you'll get back here to read all of this.
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Old Oct 5th, 2014, 12:19 PM
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NorthwestMale, Thanks! This is great information. We are leaving on our trip soon so this came just in time.
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Old Oct 5th, 2014, 02:56 PM
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I must've been in a hurry when I wrote: "...what would be then seem like THAT idiocy"

cross out the "be" in there, and it should read better.
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Old Oct 5th, 2014, 03:03 PM
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Oh, and you should research the Cape Split hike a little bit... at least in my previous posts.

You have two-ish options, the second of which is only for people far more bold than I.

The main Cape Split hiking path puts you on a bluff, overlooking the end of the cape... which is called "Cape Split" because, at high tide, the extreme end of the cape is (wait for it... wait for it...) split from what we'll call the mainland by the high tide.

(you could have to wait hours out there, on a bluff, before the tide would turn around so you could go back)

I went on the main trail, and ended up on the bluff high above the split part, and that is what I endorse for you.

(pictures/online descriptions would clarify what I mean)
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