A trail that bares all! (You may not want to take your kids on this trail)
A co-worker of my wife's told us about this trail just outside of Halifax. Since we told her about our upcoming trip to the area, she let us in on this unique spot.
Crystal Crescent Beach is one of the few "beaches" in close access to the Halifax region's population. With its beautiful white sands, it's a popular draw. Also along the coast line are huge bouldery rocks left as erratics from the retreating ice sheets from long ago. A trail stretches out along the peninsula taking those interested on a nice stroll along the rocks, hugging the coast, and further inland. We hiked out 4.5K before turning around for home.
From a few parking lots close to East Pennant, the start of the trail serves as local access to a few beaches, and consequently, runs as a wide board walk making for easy hiking. Going with a pack and day hikers makes you feel rather out of place from the rest of the beach goers with their flip flops, towels and coolers. At the end of this posh part of the trail (about 1.5K) things change quite dramatically in terms of your sense of "adventure."
The trail improves to single track, and the beach just beyond would raise a few eye brows and cause a few blushing faces. If you are offended by bathing nudists, well, your only option is to either turn around now, or keep your head down, sans eye contact, and simply follow the trail that skirts just along the inland grasses!
The trail provides you a means of hiking an awesomely rugged coastline. You can choose to follow the peaty path inland, or have fun, walking along bus sized boulders and smaller cobble, and take in the occasional crash and spray of Atlantic ocean swells meeting land. We chose to mix it up a bit, since the path and the rocks are never far from each other.
The trail extends out until Pennant Point, but we hiked only until we saw it in the near distance. Some inland ATV trails were visible, but it's quite boggy and was sure to soak our boots.
For a great hike less than a half hour out of the city, Crystal Crescent trail is a great experience. Going in after a storm would really give a show worth photographing. We were glad to get 'er done.
East Coast editor
From Halifax, head to Sambro along Highway 306. Crystal Crescent Beach is a provincial park, so simply follow the signs to reach the parking lots. Any trail leading right toward the coast will get you on your way.
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Posted By: GruHikes
- Mon Jan 02 03:34:12 UTC 2017
UpsideThis hike displays many of the qualities that make coastal hiking so much fun. The views are spectacular, the terrain is varied, and once you are 2-3 km in you get a sense of remoteness and rarely see many people on the trail.
The rocky coast is accessible almost the entire length and a k or two into the single track you can rock hop your way almost all the way to Pennant Point (though this makes the hike much longer since you need to pick your way through).
Wild cranberries and tea berries line the trail so you are able to get your inner bear on and stuff your face if that is your inclination.
The waves can pound this coastline so blustery days are fun.
At the end of your hike you can swim at the beach if weather allows. DownsideOn warm summer days there will be many old naked men lounging about the 3rd beach and rocks for the 1st km or so of the single track trail. Naked yoga too.
The trail is muddy and soft in wet conditions after a rain or in the spring. Some of the trail is through coastal gorse and puddles abound.
On warm summer days parking / the beach is crazy busy. CommentWhile the OP posted the out and back hike, this hike can also be completed as an 11km loop. There are two ways to get to the point and connect to the western side of the peninsula. 1st option is to rock hop the boulder covered beach - be careful, while the rocks are big, they aren't always settled and I've had some surprisingly large boulders move on me. Pretty easy to twist an ankle. The other, easier but wetter way is to go in front of the large pond you'll see on your right as you approach the point. The pond is backed by a granite wall so you can't miss it. Follow the dodgy trail along and around the pond and you'll find yourself heading through some marsh back to the sea. Pennant point will now be on your left and is worth a visit. The other side of the peninsula has a few highlights (there is a really cool boulder covered hill, a rock causeway accessible at low tide, and some smelly tidal pools) but is not as picturesque as the eastern side. I still recommend it though. Trail is multi branching and unmarked on the western side and will disappear once in a while. But just remember where the ocean is and your direction of travel and you can hardly get lost.
The end of the loop involves traversing the crown of the peninsula and you will want to make sure you catch the turn as if you continue down past this down the trail you will wind up in East Pennant. No big deal, but a bit of an annoying 3k road walk back to the park.
The trail over the top of the peninsula is sort of marked (there is a large board or log across the trail, net floats hanging in the trees and orange hunters tape) and will head off back to the north east over the top of the peninsula. Cross the peninsula and turn left when the trail crosses a larger trail and you'll wind up in a parking lot. Walk down the road a bit and you will find yourself back just below the parking lot where you likely left your car. There is/was a gps track of the loop online somewhere.
Loop takes 3 hours or so - but likely longer since it is so much fun to play and climb rocks etc. and I've spent as much as 5 hours out here just eating, taking pictures, climbing things, log and rock lifting and poking around to see what the last storm brought to shore.
Even on warm days the point can be cool because of the wind. On cold days it can be down right nasty the further south you go. Since being cold is stupid, dress to conditions and put an layer in your rucksack.
I hike this trail all year, but the park is closed Oct - May.