The Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail is a 51 km loop trail that begins and ends at Red Rocks Trail Head in Cape Chignecto Provincial Park near West Advocate Harbour. It offers coastal walks, sheltered coves, rare plants and old growth forests, and spectacular views of the Bay of Fundy from towering 180 m cliffs.
The park has more than 40 km of wilderness trails and remote walk-in campsites. There’s a picnic area, a front country walk-in campground, 7 backcountry wilderness campsites, a wilderness cabin, and a wilderness bunkhouse.
The backcountry and wilderness sites are only accessible from the trailhead at Red Rocks. The coastal trail is physically demanding with steep changes in elevation and you need carry backpacking equipment appropriate for wilderness travel. You can also kayak into Refugee Cove and Seal Cove campsites.
Day 1: Red Rocks Trailhead to Big Bald Rock Brook Campsite (23 km)
We started out on the beach from Red Rocks in a clockwise direction, on a cloudy, overcast day; then we climbed the steep stairs up to McGahey Brook and continued on to Mill Brook in the woods, ascending and descending the coastal cliffs with the aid of stairs while enjoying great views of Advocate Bay and Cape D’Or.
The first really long, steep descent and ascent were at the 6 km mark, down into Mill Brook and then back up – via stairs made of stones and tree roots – to the cliff tops on the other side. Mill Brook is the first of the wilderness campsites, all of which have outhouses and flat spots for tents. There’s a side trail out to the beach at Mill Brook – a good spot for lunch. Once back on the top of the cliffs, the trail flattens out and we passed Arch Gulch Cabin at the 8 km mark.
Another long, steep descent took us down into Refugee Cove, one of the most popular of the backcountry sites in the park. Most hikers do “the loop” in three days, staying at Refugee Cove the first night and Seal Cove the second night, but we did it in 2 days and headed onward and (literally!) upward to Big Bald Rock Brook campsite.
Between Refugee Cove and Big Bald Rock Brook, there are plenty of look offs with incredible vistas of the Bay of Fundy and the coastal cliffs. After passing through meadows, the trail descends gradually down to the junction out to Cape Chignecto at the 17 km mark, and after that, the trail gets a little rougher but the views of the rugged coastline are spectacular. You may have the good fortune of seeing a “Travelocity gnome” and/or seals in this section.
By the time we reached Big Bald Rock Brook Campsite at the 23 km mark, the sun had come out -- and so had the black flies!! In all my years of backpacking at Cape Chignecto, I’ve NEVER seen them as bad as they were that night, and rarely in my life have I experienced them worse. They literally ate through the Deet and our clothes, and at the end of the hike, my face, neck and ears were covered with black fly bites and crusted in bug blood. But none of that took away from the beauty of Big Bald. The campsite is nestled in the woods next to the brook and the beach is lovely. After setting up camp, we took our cook kits down to the beach and ate supper there; then we explored the rocks and watched the sun set behind the Bay of Fundy.
Day 2: Big Bald Rock Brook Campsite to Red Rocks Trailhead (27.9 km)
We had another sunny, spectacular day on the trail. Little Bald Rock Brook to Seal Cove is my favourite part of the park. The trail follows the rugged coastline and the views are never ending. There are a couple good climbs at Keyhole and Carey Brooks but the cliffs aren’t as high as they are before Cape Chignecto. After Seal Cove, the trail travels across a plateau of rolling barrens that offer spectacular views of the coastline and the Three Sisters, a row of basalt sea stacks. We dilly-dallied along taking lots of pictures and enjoying the scenery until we finally headed inland towards Eatonville campsite. For the last 10 km (after Eatonville), the trail follows Eatonville Brook and passes the wilderness bunkhouse, and travels over rolling hills through old growth forest until you’re back at the beach access near McGahey Brook. From there, we hiked the beach back to Red Rocks trailhead and headed home.
If you’re looking for a challenging, coastal hike with never ending views of the Bay of Fundy and rugged coastline, it doesn’t get any better than Cape Chignecto in Nova Scotia. I never get tired of it!
Follow Route 209 from Parrsboro to West Advocate.
From Highway 104, Exit 4 at Amherst, follow Route 2 to Upper Nappan, take Route 302 to Maccan, Route 242 to River Hebert and then follow Route 209 through Joggins to West Advocate.
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Posted By: dafjoel
- Fri Aug 12 10:28:06 EDT 2011
UpsideGreat, well-marked yet challenging trail. Every day has its own set of streams and beaches to relax/play. Excellent view of the coast from cliffs and from coves. DownsideIt is on the East Coast and I am not, anymore. CommentGreat hike. I've done it different ways but would recommend spending the first night at Refugee Cove. Sunrise/sunset is awesome there, it is a good amount of challenge for the first day; it will definitely set the spirits high. The hike is excellent for motivated, fit beginners. The trail is good for anyone that appreciates the ultimate in coastal beauty.
Posted By: tampico57
- Tue Dec 22 10:25:05 EST 2009
QuestionWhat is the significance of the travelocity gnome on this trail ? Easier said, why is it here ?ANSWERS are in this forum: Travelocity Gnome