Running from now until the end of August, Hike the Greenbelt wants Haligonians to see this city’s remarkably accessible ecological beauty through a month of hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, paddling, running, walking and sailing events around an enormous loop of Halifax’s open wilderness. The 15 free events will showcase the city’s potential greenbelt as HRM gets started on the first ever Halifax Green Network Plan. The Coast asked organizers Tristan (Cleveland, of Our HRM Alliance) and Tristan (Glen, Hike the Greenbelt leader) to choose a few spots out of the Hike’s full 216-kilometre journey. Enjoy, explore and get to know the city’s amazing natural assets with this activity list.
Swim in Sandy Lake
(Friday, August 1, 10am-4pm, 65 Giles Road, Bedford)
Spend the day at the beach with this family friendly event in one of the city’s lesser-known swimming holes. The Sandy Lake area has been identified by the city as future parkland, but is still in need of protection says Cleveland. That’ll prevent circumstances like two years ago when developer Armco used a legal loophole to clear-cut hundreds of acres near Sandy Lake. So grab a canoe (a few will be available at the beach), or kick back and munch down some grub from the BBQ.
Paddle the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes
(Saturday, August 2, 10am-5pm, 225 Chain Lake Drive, Clayton Park)
The so-called “Keji of Halifax” is a massive span of untouched wilderness with a complete canoe loop, all easily accessible from the Bayers Lake Business Park. It’s been almost a decade since plans were put in place to turn the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes area into a park. The province has moved forward protecting the area, but the municipal lands have been harder to acquire. Check out the scenery yourself with your own canoe, borrow one from Our HRMAlliance or rent one on the cheap from MEC.
Cycle from the Halifax Urban Greenway to Saint Margaret’s Bay
(Saturday, August 8, 10am-1:30pm, Halifax Urban Greenway, Bedford)
Cycle all the way from downtown Halifax to St. Margaret’s Bay on the quiet paths and old rail beds of the Halifax Urban Greenway. This four kilometre trek is designed to showcase the potential of the currently un-finished Greenway. Once completed, “it will allow residents to bike on separated trails from Point Pleasant Park to the Chain of Lakes Trail, and from there, right down to Bridgewater,” says Cleveland.
Run the Bluff Trails
(Wednesday, August 12, 6-8pm, 2890 Saint Margarets Bay Road)
Part of the Five Bridges Lakes Wilderness Area—created in 2011 in what Cleveland calls “a major step in the right direction for wildlife habitat”—this area is a popular destination for trail runners. Participants at the run will wind their way through several different landscape types. A walking option will also be available, as well as a 10-minute presentation beforehand by biologist David Patriquin about the area’s natural history.
Hike the McIntosh Run
(Sunday, August 16, 10am-3pm, 16 Sussex Street, Spryfield)
The final Hike the Greenbelt day welcomes everyone on a hike of the Purcells Cove Backlands. Once the feared site of a new development, Cleveland says the landowners are now working with the city to protect the rare ecosystem. That’s great news for anyone using Williams Lake for swimming, kayaking, running or mountain biking. Guides will lead different hiking trips for all ages, and professional birders will be on hand to point out some of the wildlife.
Check out all the event right here, and go see a side of Halifax you might be missing.