Cape Chignecto by kayak

Cape Chignecto by kayak near Amherst, NS

This trail was given a rating of 4 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 4 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 4 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 4 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 4 out of 5 stars
20 kms
Sea Kayaking
Amherst, NS
User smburt
Cape Chignecto is located in Central North East Nova Scotia, separated from New Brunswick by Chignecto Bay, a smaller arm off the Bay of Fundy, home to the world's highest tides, and odd ball currents.

Besides being a kayaker's playground, this is a geologist's dream. This area is host to a rugged coast line due to the Cobiquid fault line, giving way to fossil and rock hounding. The hills reach upwards to 200m (highest in mainland NS) and offer up basalt sea stacks, mixed forests, and a cross section of the earth's geographic changes over millions of years.

I've paddled this region a couple of times, and one thing to note is that the Bay of Fundy can have some rough seas even on the nicest days. Be prepared for fog, weird currents, wind, and rough seas. On both occasions, I've experienced it all. Be aware of the tide patterns too, as it is best to plan your launches and arrivals on the dominant current flow.

The big attraction to this paddle is the basalt sea stacks called The Three Sisters. One legend tells how the native god Gloosecap turned his sisters into stone on his departure from the land.) At high tide, you can play around them by kayak. At low tide, you can beach and explore these and other rock formations, and caves in the area. Here, there is strong evidence of the tectonic activity when the continents were seperated some forty million years ago.

On my first trip, we drove to Apple River, and taking a secondary dirt road, drove all the way to Spicer's cove. There, we met an elderly couple who watched over our car, while we ventured out for a two night stay in Seal Cove, right in the Cape Chignecto Provincial park. We had to register and pay for our site at the administrative office in person, so that made for a lot of extra driving. When we finally launched off, seeing a potential back country site right in the little cove by the Three Sisters had me wishing we had picked that spot to set camp. It's very close to the main attraction. Either way, the location is still in the park, and thus registration is a must. This can be done by phone.

Our second trip, we launched further back right in Apple River Bay where there is an old bus converted to a shelter. That area provided a great beach launch site, and a place to get changed and fueled up for the trip. (see map and waypoint) On our return, it was a site for sore eyes!

The currents in the area really reflect the geography of the coast line. Coming out of a protected cove gives rise to areas of rough seas, that on one occasion, literally drew us in, as we debated an alternative route. When in doubt, paddle... hard!

Following the coast line is truly a wonderful visual experience. Most of the terrain is high cliffs with hidden rocks here and there along the coast depending on the tide levels. There were lots of features that would make for a slow explorative doddle up the coast. There isn't much to offer for emergency landings, so if seas are getting worse, have an emergency escape plan well in advance.

Our site at Seal Cove had pit toilets and a water source, all the amenities typical of a back country site run by the Province. It is also a major site for the 50k Cape Chignecto coastal trail, so expect to see hikers tenting or passing through. On our second visit, when we landed at what is called Eatonville Harbor, right at the Three Sisters, the major water source (Eatonville Brook) was brackish. If you look around enough, you will find a trickling water source from the rocks toward the south. Treat it accordingly, but the water is good. You may also find my lost GPS unit, now likely a gift to the sea gods!

This trip is definitely worth a two+ night's stay. make a base camp and go exploring up and down the coast. There are documented let in spots along the hiking trail, making it possible to work your way out of Chignecto Bay.

Shannon Burt


Head to West Apple River from the 209 from Amherst, or from Truro, head towards Parsboro, and continue on to Apple river. Head toward Spicer's Cove.

Please check the bottom of the Description (above left; click) for the author's written directions.

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By smburtPosted By: smburt  - Sat Apr 14 13:13:59 UTC 2007 This trail was given a rating of 4 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 4 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 4 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 4 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 4 out of 5 stars Upside They've built a trail to the three sisters, so expect to see more people milling around the area. Could be good, could be bad... Downside The bus at Apple Bay I wrote about has since been removed. All that is left is just the memories and photos... Comment This trip in one form or another is offered by a few kayak tour outfitters, so wither with your own boat and skills or along with a guided group, this is definately a worthy visit.
-Shannon Burt
East coast editor

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