Halifax's Picturesque Parks
Called "The City of Trees," Halifax is known for its many lovely parks. Point Pleasant Park offers harbour views and paths for biking, jogging or just plain strolling. The Public Gardens are a colourful oasis of Victorian floral splendour in the midst of the city. Inside the massive stone walls of the Halifax Citadel - Canada's most visited National Historic Site - uniformed re-enactors dressed in the kilts and feather bonnets of the 19th century Highland regiment that once garrisoned the fort, bring to life the sights and sounds of Halifax's military history.
CN Railway Cut
Working railway alignments are usually a source of industrial blight, to be avoided at all costs. However, any line servicing the Ocean Terminals on Halifax Harbour in the South End required a massive cut through the bedrock to get a train from sea level on Bedford Basin to sea level on Halifax Harbour.
Though smaller now than the 300 acres originally reserved in the 18th century for settlers to graze their livestock, the Common remains a pleasant stop on a tour of Dartmouth. Visitors can follow the walking path to the top of the hill and enjoy a breathtaking view of Halifax Harbour. A cairn commemorates the 1750 landing of 353 settlers from the ship Alderney, and the founding of the original town of Dartmouth. Incorporated within the Dartmouth Common is the Leighton Dillman Scenic Garden, named for the man who put years of single-handed volunteer effort into creating the garden. Average duration of visit: an hour.
Ferry Terminal Park
Located adjacent to the Dartmouth Ferry Terminal.
Enjoy the scenery in and around this park from its boardwalks, which follow the shores of Halifax Harbour. The ship Alderney landed here, carrying the first 353 settlers to Dartmouth in 1750. The park's inlaid granite "Compass Rose" is a replica of the compass detail on a 1749 map of the harbour. Allow half an hour.
Bordered by Robie Street, Cogswell and Bell Roads.
Originally set aside as a pasture in the late 1700s, Canada's oldest city park now serves as a major recreational area. During summer, children clamber about the large playground, and athletes of all ages can be seen every fine day, playing baseball, football, soccer, cricket and other sports till dark on the wide open spaces. Allow half an hour.
Halifax Public Gardens
Bounded by Sackville, Summer, and S. Park Sts. and Spring Garden Rd.
Main entrance is at the corner of Spring Garden and South Park.
This 7 heactare (17 acre) park is the oldest formal Victorian gardens in North America, this city oasis had its start in 1753 as a private garden. Its layout was completed in 1875 by Richard Power, former gardener to the Duke of Devonshire in Ireland. Gravel paths wind among ponds, trees, and flower beds, revealing an astonishing variety of plants from all over the world. The centerpiece is a gazebo erected in 1887 for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. Park has historic fountains, statuary, duck pond, tree-shaded walks and summer 2 pm Sunday afternoon band concerts, set among colourful flower beds and magnificent specimen trees. Open to the public from May until November, dawn till dusk. Allow 30 minutes.
Halifax Urban Greenway
Chebucto Road to Young Avenue.
The Halifax Urban Greenway follows the Canadian National Railway cut from Chebucto Road to Young Avenue and will include urban hiking and biking trails linking the Armdale Rotary with Point Pleasant Park. Where feasible, it is hoped that the trail will be able to be developed along the railway cut alignment.
Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens
32 University Avenue, Wolfville, NS
The Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens provide a meeting place for science and nature on the campus of Acadia University in Wolfville Nova Scotia. All the plants are native to the Acadian Forest Region. A great resource for information on home gardening and landscaping with native plants. Open 7 days a week, dawn to dusk.
Hemlock Ravine Park
Entrance at the top of Kent Ave. off the Bedford Highway (Rte. 2) or behind Grosvenor Wentworth Park School, off Kearney Lake Rd. (Grosvenor Rd. to Castlehill Dr. to Downing St.).
When Edward, the Duke of Kent, arrived in Halifax in 1794 to serve as commander in chief of the Halifax garrison, he built an estate for his French mistress, Julie St. Laurent, here on the shore of the Bedford Basin. When Edwards' royal responsibility returned him to England in 1800, he married a German princess and fathered Queen Victoria. The tiny, elegant music rotunda (now privately owned), only one of the estate's remaining buildings, perches on a hill between the water and Bedford Highway. The park, however, is open to the public with its graceful pathways lead from St. Laurent's heart-shaped Julie's Pond through the towering old hemlock trees. Allow an hour.
Point Pleasant Park
Entrances at the south end of Tower Road and the south end of Point Pleasant Drive, Halifax. Only minutes from downtown, this magnificent 186-acre forested park covers the southern tip of the Halifax peninsula, jutting into the mouth of the harbour. Its 39 kilometres of nature trails now draw those who like to walk, jog or cross-country ski. The park is also a sanctuary for trees, animals and birds. Picnic tables and barbecue areas are available. On the western side of the park is the Sailors' Memorial, in remembrance of the Canadian naval and merchant sailors who lost their lives during the world wars. It is also the site of the Prince of Wales Tower National Historic Site-a Martello tower built by order of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, in 1796-97. The city rents the 186-acre park from the British government on a 999-year lease for the princely sum of one shilling a year. The Tower is open July 1 to Labour Day, 10am to 6pm. Point Pleasant Park is open daily, year-round. Allow two hours.
North end of Barrington St., below the A. Murray MacKay Bridge
This open green area offers an unparalleled view of the Bedford Basin. Seaview Park is the former site of Africville, a black community relocated in the 1960s, with its commemorative plaque. Africville produced a number of celebrated citizens, including three-time world champion boxer George Dixon (1870-1909). Today, the spirit of Africville lives on as former residents and their descendants strive to preserve this important part of Nova Scotia's heritage. Allow half an hour.
Sir Sanford Fleming Park
On Dingle Rd., off Purcell's Cove Rd., 2 km from the Armdale Rotary.
This 95-acre park; has two major walking trails winding through four natural habitats second-growth woodlands, a heath barren, saltwater habitat and a frog pond. There's also a beach at Fairy Cove. Dominating the park is the Dingle Tower, an imposing landmark built by Sir Sanford Fleming in the early 1900s to commemorate the first legislative assembly in the British Empire (1758). Fleming was an interesting person: he developed the concept of standard time zones and his leadership was instrumental in the completion of Canada's first transcontinental railway. Allow two hours.
Halifax has a number of undeveloped natural areas:
- Pine Hill Drive to Marlborough Woods Bridge
- Marlborough Woods Bridge to South Street
- Lovers' Walk (South to Coburg)
- The Horsefield (Conrose Park)
- Quinpool to Chebucto
Parking at the Musquodoboit Harbour and Gibraltar trailheads and at The Musquodoboit Harbour Railway Museum.
The developing Musquodoboit Trailway system winds its way along the Musquodoboit River between Musquodoboit Harbour and Gibraltar Rock and climbs its overlooking granite ridges, through the woodlands of Nova Scotia's unspoiled Eastern Shore. This was the first section of the Trans Canada Trail to open in the Halifax Region, and is a non-motorized recreational trail is ideal for walkers, cyclists,wheelchairs and strollers.
Starting at the Caboose Information Centre at the Musquodoboit Railway Museum, the trail runs for a short distance behind the village, crosses Highway 357, runs around the Arena, ballfields and Peace Park, and gets to official trailhead (Kilometer 0) by the parking lot.
The trail crosses the salmon-rich Musquodoboit River on a 130 ft. trestle bridge, passes the jutting crag of Skull Rock to reach the Admiral and Bayer Lake loop trails. The trailway runs a kilometre cliffside along the rocky eastern shore of Bayers Lake. A picnic shelter and toilet are at the 2.5 km marks, just before the Bayers Lake bridge. See the old mill and factory foundations at the southern and northern ends of Bayers Lake.
After Bayers Lake, the trail continues for several kilometres through mixed coniferous and deciduous forest, and finally passing meadows formerly cattle pasture, now a rich habitat for waterfowl and beaver. At about 4 km, near the River Oaks Golf Club you pass a boulder shaped like a dinosaur; and next to a bridge over a small brook a fir tree is growing out of the fork of a mature maple.
At the 6 km mark you'll see several spectacular ridges that form the western boundary of the White Lake Wilderness area, home to several bald eagles.
After the 7.5 km. mark (where there is a picnic shelter and toilet) you pass a nearby bridge overlooking Kelly Meadow, which offers canoe access into White Lake. The trailway crosses a pheasant preserve before passing Crawford Bridge, where Highway 357 crosses the Musquodoboit River. For the final 4 km., trail, road and river run side by side under the cliffs of Gibraltar, near the site of the Crawford farm and an old road leading to Gibraltar Lake. At the 13.4 km mark, you pass the start of the Gibraltar Lake loop trail, which can also be accessed near trail's end, at the 14.5 km mark.
23 individual lakes within the city of Dartmouth form a recreational haven for swimming, water-skiing, cross-country skiing, fishing, boating and sailing. The lakes range in size from 1 to 140 hectares, with the largest lakes being Banook Lake, Micmac Lake, and Charles Lake. Lake Banook is the site of many regional, national and international competitive paddling events.