- Jack Lake Trails
- Sandy Lake Park/Lions Club Sandy Lake Beach Park
- Power Lines
- Eastern Drumlin & Moraine Brook Lands
- Halifax Water Connector
- Prison Yard/Prison Yard Road
- Other Trails
- Access to Sandy Lake, Marsh Lake Jack Lake
- Sandy Lake to Sackville River Watercourse
Existing trails, roads and access points for of Sandy Lake/Jack Lake lands, copied onto Google Earth Map:
The only parking lots/trail heads specifically maintained for Sandy Lake Park/Jack Lake Park are accessed via Smith Road, which is the first road on the right hand side after going under the Bicentennial/Hwy 102 travelling west on Hammonds Plains Road. (Going towards Truro on Hwy 102, Hammonds Plain Road is accessed via exit 3a or 3b, the latter to go west on Hammonds Plain Road; there is only one exit (#3) going towards Halifax.)
Jack Lake Trails
Approx. 300 m in on Smith Road, there is signage on the right hand side for “Jack Lake Trails” and a parking lot accommodating 10-20 vehicles (depending on how they are parked). The lot is gated, and a sign indicates the area is closed 10 pm to 5 am 7 days a week; also that it is an On-leash area.
A wide trail (3 m+), likely an old logging road, opens onto the Parking lot. That trail goes directly to Jack Lake. Currently (July 1, 2018) the first 30 m or so is being bulldozed, presumably to deal with flooding issues, perhaps also to make ATV/Mt bike access easier.
There are a number of side trails. Currently (July 1, 2018), there is no signage on the main (wide) trail, minimal signage on side trails (none on most).
The trails are used Mt Bikers, walkers, runners, ATVs and in winter for cross country skiing/snowshoeing. ATV use seems to be restricted mainly to the main (wide) trail. Evidently there is some maintenance of the main trail; at least fallen trees are removed. It can be quite wet and there are several large wet areas created by ATV use, with some related splintering of the trail. I have not seen any refuse on these trails. Close to Jack Lake, there is at least one “camp” site, some related construction, fairly well hidden from view. The whole area of these trails is covered by healthy mixed Acadian forest. The edge of Jack Lake is swampy. Several bird houses have been installed at the edge of Jack Lake near the end of the main (wide) trail.
Sandy Lake Park/Lions Club Sandy Lake Beach Park
Another 200 m in after the Jack Lake Trails sign/parking lot, just before the powerline crosses the road, there is signage for Sandy Lake Park and a small parking lot (3-4 vehicles). The road continues to a much larger parking lot, but it is gated and the gate is closed over the winter (Gate #2 on map at top).
The signage states:
– Dog off-leash area ONLY during October – June. Dogs must be ON-leash and under control during beach season July – September
– Warning [about thefts of goods etc]
– HRM sign: Sandy Lake Park, 115 Smiths Road, Bedford. To all users: Park hours 5 am to 10 pm; Dogs must be on leash; emergency 911, maintenance etc 311; symbols for No Smoking, Use Garbage, Dogs on Leash, No Fires, No Overnight Camping, Swimming, Picnic Tables, Hiking.
– A large monument: Bedford Lions Club, opened 2003.
The Powerline crosses the road just past the small parking lot; followed to the right it is popular for walking;; a trail into the woods to the left is popular with dog-walkers.
Another 200 m down the road, there is a small parking space to the right which leads into a woods road and the beginning of “The Loop” travelling counter-clockwise. This road also leads to a privately owned camp by the lake (see map).
After another 100 m (approx 1 km from Hammonds Plains Road), the main road opens into a large, gravelled parking lot accommodating ~ 50 vehicles (SL beach Parking Lot or the “big parking lot”). The road continues down to the beach area, but that section is gated and the gate is normally closed. It is approx. 250 m beyond the big parking lot, downhill, to the beach itself.
Signage at the big parking lot and at the beach repeats information about dogs. The beach area includes a large open grass area, a smaller sandy play area, changing facilities, bathrooms and a canteen type facility but not used as such recently. A sign indicates life guards are present 11 am to 5 pm July 1 to Aug 31, No Dogs on Beach, No Diving, No Alcohol.
There are trails off of the beach area as indicated roughly on the maps above, but there is no signage for the trails.
The beach is sandy, shallow for quite a way out and quite safe for kids. There is sensitive fringing wetland just to the left (south) of the beach.
People also find their own special, more secluded spots by the water along the forested edge southwest of the beach.
There is not much launch of boats from this beach, likely because it’s a fairly long distance from the parking lot to carry heavier craft. This is desirable from an ecological perspective because of the sensitive wetland nearby. Smaller inflatables are sometimes seen. People often fish directly from the beach or partly immersed in water.
There are garbage disposal bins at the big parking lot and by the beach that I assume are serviced by HRM. The Bedford Lions Club conducts volunteer cleanups of the area.
For more about the beach area and dog-walking, view Recreation > Sandy Lake Beach Park
The NSP Power lines are popular walking routes, and for lengthy sections, ATV routes. They are conveniently accessed for walking by Gate #2 on Smith Road. ATVers also enter the area from the west along the east/west running power line between Sandy lake and Marsh Lake.
There is a hemlock-lined ATV route/old logging road beside Peverill’s Brook before it enters Marsh Lake (not marked on the maps above).
Eastern Drumlin & Moraine Brook Lands
These can be accessed via a NSP road that fronts on the Bicentennial Highway/Route 102 going towards Halifax, just after you view the rifle range. It is gated and the gate is normally closed, but there is space around it for ATV access. There is room for only one or two vehicles outside of the gate. About 150 m in there is a large old sand quarry area, well used by ATVs; just before that the Halifax Water Connector road crosses the NSP road.
AS shown on the map, there is a network of trails though the area. Some are old logging roads, accessed now regularly by ATV, others are regularly used by Mt. bikers who have constructed jumps; others going through the rough, ridged, hemlock-dominated Moraine lands are primarily walking trails. The Mt Bike paths skirt the edge of these lands.
If the ATV trail is followed to the northwest, you start climbing up the “Eastern Drumlin” which hosts mature to old growth mixed Acadian forest.
There is a lot of background noise from Hwy 102 in areas closer to that highway; it drops off quite quickly as you get away from it.
Halifax Water Connector
This is a wide, fully maintained, gravelled road not open to vehicle access but it is used a lot by hikers and Mt Bikers, to a lesser extent by ATVs. It can be accessed off of Hammonds Plains Road just before Smith Road travelling west, also from the “NSP Road” close to the rifle range.
Were it not for the fact that this road, followed towards Sackville, passes behind the rifle range (access to that area is blocked), it would be perfect as Active Transportation Route connecting Lower Sackville and Hammonds Plains Road. However, it would require only a short new path/bridge crossing to go from the Connector Road where it enters the NSP road to the Bedford-Sackville Greenway.
Various trails – not marked on the maps – lead off of the Connector Road, also the Prison Yard Road.
Prison Yard/Prison Yard Road
The “PY Road” is accessed via the Connector Road; it appears not to be maintained and is rough in spots but quite walkable. It leads to the larger “prison yard”, which is land cleared to construct a prison but was never further developed. It was scraped down to bed rock and there has been very little natural succession to a forested state. Prominent ridges oriented NE/SW cross the area.
There are trails off of this area towards the Power lines to the West, to Jack Lake, and to the Eastern Drumlin.
My first impression of the “Prison Yard”: with little development required, it could be a great site for a summer (perhaps even winter) amphitheatre/large public events.
I have not yet traversed much beyond Marsh Lake going NE or N towards the Sackville River (view Approximate Tracks). There are likely some little used, informal trails though those areas, as there are through lands to the west of Sandy Lake but not indicated on the maps above.
Access to Sandy Lake, Marsh Lake Jack Lake
I believe the only public access to Sandy Lake is via Sandy Lake Park. I don’t think there are any vehicle accessible, public boat launch sites on Sandy Lake. Currently, the use of power boats is quite limited, perhaps involving only 3-4 craft. This is fortunate because they can be quite disruptive of the fringing wetlands which host turtles, frogs, loon nests etc. and stir up sediments which contributes to eutrophication.
There are no roads providing vehicle access directly to Marsh Lake or Jack Lake. Once on both of these lakes, there are few signs of civilization; at Marsh lake only a power line is visible. The lake is shallow and without beaches and has extensive, meadow-like marshes. Jack lake is a small lake in a boreal-like of landscape, with narrow, marshy borders.
Sandy Lake to Sackville River Watercourse
This route from the north end of Sandy Lake, down Peverills Brook, through Marsh Lake and into lower Peverill’s Brook and to the Sackville River can be paddled (I am told) in spring and fall, otherwise, it is not navigable except for the first 300 m or so at the top of Peverill’s Brook.
- Sandy Lake & Environs well represented in iNaturalist Nature Challenge – let’s keep at it!
- iNaturalist eyes on Sandy Lake & Environs
- Please keep an eye out for the “Hemlock Vampires”
- In a nutshell: why we need to protect lands on the west side of Sandy Lake
- Presentation on “A natural history perspective of the forests, wetlands and surface waters of Sandy Lake (Bedford) & Environs” available on YouTube