Local Adventures

5 Incredible Halifax Hiking Trails (That Are Off The Beaten Path)

Hiking Trail Halifax: Fox Lake Look Off

Panoramic views at the look-off at Fox Lake Hiking Trail, Halifax, NS

One of the things I love best about living in Halifax: the proximity to amazing hiking trails that make you feel as though you’re in the middle of the wilderness, when in reality, you’re just a 10-30 minute drive from downtown.

For the times when you have an itch to get outside—but only have a couple of hours to spare and don’t want to spend most of your time driving to and from your destination—I’ve rounded up my top 5 favourite hiking trails in Halifax.

Depending on your familiarity with hiking trails in Halifax, there’s a chance you may not have heard of all of these before. Many of the trails that get attention or are well known—like Duncan’s Cove or the Bluff, or even park-based crusher dust trails like in Point Pleasant Park, Shubie Park, etc.—while beautiful in their own rights, can often be crowded or may not (in my opinion) offer as much of an immersive nature experience.

With that in mind, the following trails made my top 5 list for several important reasons:

  • They’re all within a 30 minute drive—or less—from downtown Halifax
  • They offer a tremendous “bang for your buck” in terms of natural beauty and sights; bonus points for trails with look-offs, interesting scenery, proximity to water, and so on
  • They tend not to be as trafficked and busy as some of the more popular trails around the city (my motivation for getting outside is typically to get away from crowds, not be part of one!)

So without further ado, my 5 favourite hiking trails in Halifax are…

1. Hobson’s Lake Trail

Location: Trail head is at the end of Colins Road, Halifax, NS


This trail is #1 for me in Halifax, hands down, for so many reasons. Part of the Kearney Lake Trail System, the full loop is over 5km through the woods and granite outcroppings and around three lakes, and takes approx. 2 hours. While I’ve hiked the full loop once, what I love about this trail is that it’s easy—and still extremely enjoyable—to carve the hike up and just do one side or the other. For example, we frequently will just hike to the first lake, Hobson’s Lake, where there’s an opening and access to the lake, a stream with a mini waterfall, and a look-off. The other option is to start on the opposite side and hike directly to Fox Lake. This loop has so much to offer that I’ve broken Fox Lake out as its own in the #2 spot.

In summary, highlights of this trail are:

  • Space at the base of Hobson Lake to sit and enjoy
  • The mini waterfall and stream
  • A look-off to Hobson Lake
  • Rugged terrain and inclines which make for a moderately challenging hike
  • The ability to hike just to Hobson’s Lake for a shorter trip or do the full loop which covers three lakes (including Ash Lake, and Fox Lake, below)

A few tips:

  • Be prepared (clothing, footwear, etc.); it can be wet/boggy in places and inclines/declines can make for challenging portions of the hike
  • There are a handful of signs throughout the trail network; however, there aren’t many trail markers, and there are lots of little offshoots in the trail, so to stay on track you’ll need to pay attention to where you’re going. Halifax Trails has plotted the trail on a helpful Google Map.

2. Fox Lake Trail

Location: Trail head is at the end of Colins Road, Halifax, NS


This spot is so beautiful, and easy to enjoy all on its own even if you don’t hike the full Hobson’s Lake Trail, that I felt it deserved its own place on my top 5 list. Rather than go right when you enter the trail which takes you to Hobson’s Lake, head toward the left to get back to Fox Lake. Before going directly down to the lake, follow signs to the Fox Lake look-off; you won’t be disappointed. This look-off offers a stunning, panoramic view of Fox Lake and is a perfect spot to set up a picnic or just relax and enjoy the view. Hiking to the look-off and back is just under 3km.

In summary, highlights of this trail are:

  • A stunning, panoramic look-off to the lake
  • A granite opening at the base of the lake (perfect for picnics)
  • Rugged terrain and inclines which make for a moderately challenging hike
  • The ability to continue along the full Hobson’s Lake loop, above, if you felt like a longer hike

A few tips:

  • Be prepared (clothing, footwear, etc.); it can be wet/boggy in places and inclines/declines can make for challenging portions of the hike
  • There are a handful of signs throughout the trail network; however, there aren’t many trail markers, and there are lots of little offshoots in the trail, so to stay on track you’ll need to pay attention to where you’re going. The exact trail on Google Maps has been plotted by Halifax Trails, which provides a helpful reference.

3. The High Head

Location: Trail head is at the end of Hages Lane, Prospect, NS


In addition to our proximity to so many beautiful forests and lakes, being surrounded by the ocean is one of the best parts of living in Nova Scotia. Apart from going to the beach, one of my favourite ways to experience being close to the ocean is to explore the coast—and one of the best (and perhaps most underrated) coastal hikes in Halifax has to be at the High Head in Prospect. The trail is part of a nature reserve and hugs the coast for 4km, so you can do the full trail for an 8km return hike or simply tailor it based on how much time and energy you have. There’s so much to love about the views along this trail: looking out to all of the little islands just off the coast, climbing the massive granite rocks to sit and watch the waves crash, or enjoying the incredible view of the sunset (I’d argue this is one of the best places in Halifax to watch a sunset).

In summary, highlights of this trail are:

  • Incredible coastal views
  • Massive granite outcroppings to climb and watch the waves
  • Awesome spot to watch a sunset
  • Rugged terrain which makes for a moderately challenging hike

A few tips:

  • Be prepared (clothing, footwear, etc.); almost every time I’ve been, there have been spots that are extremely muddy/boggy
  • Bear in mind that it’s a designated nature reserve so try to stay on the trails and respect the area
  • The trail isn’t marked, but it’s linear, so you don’t really need a map to find your way
  • If you go to watch the sunset, bring a flashlight for the way back!

4. Susie’s Lake Hiking Trail

Location: Trail head is directly behind the Kent on Chain Like Drive in Bayers Lake, to the right (actually)


The juxtaposition of a concrete, lifeless industrial business park leading to wilderness and immersive beauty in a matter of minutes makes this trail and the lake it leads to all the more special. Who would have dreamed that a Kent parking lot would double as an entrance to a hiker’s paradise? At first you’ll have to climb down a small hill of cement scraps, but the trail will lead you through the woods and granite eventually leads to Susie’s Lake where there are multiple points at the base of the lake to relax or swim. The highlight of this trail, though, is the look-off to the lake on the top of a massive slab of granite. The full loop is about 3km, but to get back to the look-off only takes about 15 minutes, which makes it another great place to watch the sunset.

In summary, highlights of this trail are:

  • The stunning look-off to the lake
  • Great place to watch the sunset
  • Space at the base of the lake to swim or relax
  • Rugged terrain which makes for a moderately challenging hike

A few tips:

  • The trail isn’t marked, and there are lots of offshoots, so it can be easy to get off track; recommend using the Google Map plotted by Halifax Trails.
  • If you go to watch the sunset, bring a flashlight for the way back

5. Nichol’s Lake Hiking Trail

Location: Trail head is at the very end of McDonald Lake Road, Hatchet Lake, NS

Waterfall at Nichol's Lake Hiking Trail, Halifax

Winter hike to the waterfall at Nichol’s Lake (can you spot me?)

This trail is our most recent discovery and it was a real treat, leading to a small waterfall and river which flows into the lake. Of all the hiking trails listed, this is likely the least challenging physically; it’s a crusher dust trail and the inclines were fairly gradual. There are lots of trail offshoots and different access points to the lakes if you care to explore around, including a lovely sandy spot which would make a great place to swim in the summer. The waterfall area makes a great place to stop and relax or bring a picnic; to get to the waterfall area first, stay right when the trail splits.

In summary, highlights of this trail are:

  • The small waterfall on the river
  • Multiple access points to the lake
  • Terrain and trail style make it less challenging than some other hikes

A few tips:

  • Be prepared (clothing, footwear, etc.); even though the trail was crusher dust, there were a few spots that were muddy or with large puddles
  • Despite the trails being so established, there are no Google Maps of the trail; however, finding the waterfall is easy (just go right when the trail splits), and if you wish to explore around and want to keep your bearings, pull up Google Maps with your location settings on to see whether you’re pointing toward the lake/river vs. the parking area where you came

Have you hiked any of these trails? Which are your favourites (listed or not)? Let me know in the comments. For more adventures in real time, follow me on Instagram.

Happy hiking!