The passing of the trains left the Annapolis Valley with great trails to enjoy on foot or bicycle
Story and photography by Jodi DeLong
Just a few short years ago, I succumbed to the urge to have a bicycle again, in no small part because of the opening of another section of a trail through Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. Now officially named the Harvest Moon Trailway, it’s a 117-km long route from Grand-Pré to Annapolis Royal, following the route that was formerly the train tracks through the Valley’s heartland. The trail is open to bikers, walkers and joggers, equestrians, and, in some spots, motorized recreational vehicles such as snowmobiles and all terrain vehicles. (Not all sections welcome motorized vehicles. Check locally to make sure.)
Depending on your locale, you can do the entire trail from one end to the other, or you can break it up into chunks and enter at various trailheads along the route. Living as I do in Wolfville, I routinely take advantage of the trailway, and sometimes go off the beaten path to other locations, again without having to deal with vehicular traffic. While I have yet to complete the whole trail, I have my favourite sections that I do regularly, and have gone as far as Aylesford.
Most of the Harvest Moon Trailway is easy, over level terrain, with only a few minor hilly spots. It’s also well-groomed for the most part, with hard-packed and gravelled surfaces, and in at least one community, paving.
Depending on your plans for adventure, there are numerous attractions along the trailway, which may prompt you to go exploring. Starting in Grand-Pré, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can take in the history of the Acadians at the national historic site, visit the French cross that marks the departure point of the Acadians during the Expulsion, and cycle across the dykes to Evangeline Beach. A visit to Domain de Grand-Pré Winery is a must for those with a fondness for the grape, and you can also drop into Tangled Garden Preserves for treats and a visit to the gardens there.
Next on the trail list is Wolfville, where you’ll find numerous places to enjoy local foods and beverages. Be sure to check out Lightfoot and Wolfville Winery, Annapolis Cider Company, The Church Brewing Company and restaurant, terrific Mediterranean and Turkish food at Troy, a wide array of authentic Korean dishes at Danji, and many other great food options. A quick and hilly cycle up University Avenue will take nature lovers to the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens, a must-visit at any time of the year.
there is plenty to do and see (and places to park your bike) in the thriving town of Wolfville.
The stretch of road between Wolfville and Greenwich is home to no fewer than five farm markets, including the famous Hennigar’s (get your ice cream there), Stirling’s, and Noggins Corner Farm. Here you can check out a huge variety of local, fresh foods—meats, cheeses, breads, produce and beverages from cider to kombucha—perfect spots to load up your knapsack for a picnic or two along your way.
Back on the trailway, continue your adventure behind New Minas and into Kentville, where there are an equal number of great attractions and side excursions. You may want to skip over to the Miners Marsh, a wonderful nature preserve which is home to a wide assortment of migratory and native waterfowl and songbirds or check out any number of other biking/hiking trails around the so-called Shire town of the Valley.
Next you’ll travel through the agricultural and residential areas of Coldbrook, Cambridge and Waterville before reaching the Apple Capital of the region, Berwick. This town invites pausing to explore, with delightful places for coffee or a full meal, including North Mountain Coffee Company, Union Street Café, Kellocks restaurant and the Apple Capital Museum. If you’re ambitious (and in better shape than I am), head over the North Mountain to Harbourville and the Bay of Fundy.
At Aylesford, you can visit Oaklawn Farm Zoo, a fascinating and family-run facility that is known for having the largest display of big cats (lions, tigers, etc) and primates in our region. Aylesford is an agricultural community, with several cranberry operations, Holmestead Cheese on South Mountain where they make feta and offer many other cheeses and related products, and of course, more fruit farms and farm markets along the way.
The sprawling communities of Kingston and Greenwood are known for 14 Wing Greenwood RCAF base, where you’ll discover the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum, a fascinating look back at the history of our flying forces. A large static display of planes outside the museum is always open to visitors. Check out Marie et Guy House Bread in Kingston, a bona fide French bakery, if you’re feeling peckish, or any number of other café and restaurant options along the way.
Middleton is known as the Heart of the Valley and has a festival by that name every summer. An easy-going community with fascinating shops, it also boasts the Macdonald Museum, located in a former schoolhouse and home to a terrific clock and watch collection along with other exhibits and a research library.
Back on the trail, your route will take you through scenic farmland and the communities of Lawrencetown, Paradise, Bridgetown and Granville Centre before you reach Annapolis Royal. Here you’ll find everything from a booming farmers market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the local Still Fired Distillery, Fort Anne National Historic Site, and the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, among other delights. There is a bounty of accommodations and dining options in the town, and from there you can make further day trips off the Harvest Moon Trailway to Bear River, Delaps Cove, Port Royal, and other hidden gems around
The Harvest Moon Trailway is part of the larger, provincial Blue Route that criss-crosses Nova Scotia, offering hundreds of kilometres of safer cycling for visitors and residents of the province (and beyond.) Pack a lunch and your bike and get out and explore!
Header caption: Blomidon from the trail.
Intro caption: Info panels about the Landscape of Grand-Pré