Subpages for Bluff Trail



This question is becoming more and more frequent as people become acquainted with the trail and want to take longer trips that extend into the last two loops: The Bluff Loop and Hay Marsh Loop.

Please note these last loops are accessible by canoe and can be explored in a day trip. You can canoe directly to the Indian Hill Loop at the end of Cranberry Lake or to The Bluff Loop at the end of Frederick Lake where the second and third loops join, or you can canoe directly to the Hay Marsh Loop at the end of Hubley Big Lake in Paradise Cove. The portage at Paradise Cove goes to Upper Five Bridge Lake where the portage joins the Hay Marsh Loop. See map on our website for details. The trail system is designed so that each of the last three loops is accessible by canoe for a day hike.

How can you gain public access to these lakes? You can "put in" on Cranberry Lake at the trailhead (parking your vehicle in The Bluff Trail Parking Lot on the Bay Road) or put in on Hubley Big Lake at the end of Hubley Lake Road (where Birch Hill Lake feeds into Hubley Big). To gain public access to Frederick Lake is more complicated. The best way is to drive into Lake of the Woods on Silver Birch Drive until you come to house number 199 on the right. On the left hand side of the road is a telephone pole and 20 feet to the right is a small ravine running perpendicular to the road down to Black Point Lake run. Just to the right of that ravine, hidden in the dense bush there, is an opening to a path on which you can portage your canoe down to Black Point Lake run and then to the right to Frederick Lake. This is 66 foot right-of-way on Crown Land that can be used by the public. The carry is relatively short. The only hard part is finding the path.

Nevertheless, the question remains: What if you don't have a canoe or just want to camp on the trail?

Since the trail is on Crown Land and since the law permits camping on Crown Land, you would not be violating the law just by camping there. However, even though camping is legal on Crown Land, we discourage camping on the trail for two good reasons.

First, our Letter of Authority from the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources permitting us to build the trail on Crown Land prohibits our designating any campsites.

Second, if we encourage camping we can defeat the very purpose of building the trail, because the vast majority of people do not know how to camp without partly, or over time wholly, destroying the area in which they camp. The primary purpose of the trail is to preserve for us and for future generations the some 22,000 acres of wilderness in which the trail resides. We believe that the trail can help us to do this by making the public aware of its great beauty and consequently helping the public to be motivated to oppose any attempt by government to trade the land away for development. We are an environmental group dedicated to preserving and enhancing environmental values.

What about those few who practice Leave No Trace camping? Surely their camping would not defeat the purpose of the trail.

This is a good point, and for this reason we put the Leave No Trace principles on our signs at each junction of the trail. These principles are further explained on our widely distributed trail brochure, which will soon be available on our website ( If you camp by following these principles, nobody would ever know you have camped. In that case there would be no conflict between the purpose of the trail and camping.

Without going through the principles (visit for details), let me try to convey in simple terms to those who are not familiar with this concept what Leave No Trace camping would mean. The minimal activities of camping that normally leave a mark on the wilderness are sleeping, cooking, and defecating. People clear areas to set up their tents to sleep, they build fires to cook, and near the site they leave feces and toilet paper. People can be much more destructive, of course, by cutting down trees, leaving trash, or burning down the forest, but sleeping, cooking, and defecating are the minimal activities involved in camping.

Is it possible to do these three things without leaving a mark? Can you leave no trace? The answer is "no" if leaving no trace involves fooling forensic experts, but something short of that is possible. It is possible to sleep in the forest, even to sleep sheltered from the rain, and leave no visible sign that you were there. It is possible to cook on a camp stove or by making a small fire in a stainless steel salad bowl, which can be easily carried inverted on the top of your pack. In the case of a fire in a bowl, use small pieces of dead wood and rest the bowl on rocks so that ground underneath is not scorched. Third, it is possible to toilet using natural materials instead of toilet paper and to lightly bury your feces. Unburied feces decompose in about six months while feces buried six inches take twice as long. A compromise is probably best, especially if you cannot forgo toilet paper. Bear scat is not visibly different from human waste except for paper near by, always a dead giveaway that you are not a bear. Defecate well away from streams and lakes. Finally, you should camp some distance from the trail so that you don't encourage others to camp who may be less careful than you.

Leaving no trace can be fun. You can regard it as a challenge that makes camping much more interesting than it would otherwise be and leaves out none of the things that make camping such a pleasure. Leaving no trace can be a point of pride.

We ask you not to leave your car overnight in the parking lot. Have someone drop you off and arrange for someone to pick you up. In this way someone will know right away that there is a problem if you do not return on time.

To sum up: We discourage camping on the Bluff Trail but, if you must camp, please leave no trace that you have been there!