Autumn is one of the best times of year in Nova Scotia; the changing leaves light up the province with vibrant colour, making it the perfect time for outdoor adventures!
The best part? You don't have to go far from Halifax to experience the beauty of the season - this fall leaf watching itinerary will take you on an autumn adventure from lunch in Cole Harbour, to the Eastern Shore for a colourful hike, and up into the Musquodoboit Valley, where you'll be treated to a symphony of fall colour.
- Get in the fall frame of mind with a stop at Cole Harbour Heritage Farm
- Head out for a hike in Musquodoboit Harbour where you'll find tons of scenic lookoffs from which you can enjoy the fall colours in their full glory!
- Take a long, lazy drive through the colourful Musquodoboit Valley
Get in the fall frame of mind with a stop at a historic hidden gem
As you begin to drive away from the city toward Musquodoboit Harbour on the Eastern Shore, stop in for a bite to eat and a cup of tea at an authentic heritage farm tucked away in Cole Harbour.
Cole Harbour Heritage Farm Museum preserves the spirit of what was once a thriving farming community dating back to the early 1800's. Have lunch on the Victorian veranda of the Rose and Kettle Tea Room, where just like the farm kitchen of old, the kettle is always on and delicious, nostalgic smells fill the air.
The menu at the Rose & Kettle is a blend of old English influences, Nova Scotia favourites, and most importantly, Cole Harbour kitchens - all created from scratch and using the Farm garden’s own produce wherever possible. Learn more.
Take a (very colourful) hike!
Take a wooded hike along Musquodoboit Harbour's Rail Trail, an abandoned rail corridor where the famed "Blueberry Express" once ran. The trailhead is located on Highway 7 at the Musquodoboit Railway Museum.
The 'Blueberry Express': The railway line, which was opened in 1916, ran from Windsor Junction, through Dartmouth, and then followed the shoreline, skirting beaches and fishing communities before turning inland, and eventually reaching the Musquodoboit Harbour Railway Station before following the river into the rolling farmlands of the Musquodoboit Valley.
As the story goes, the train ran so slowly that one could jump off, pick some of the plentiful blueberries growing by the side of the tracks, and then hop back on!
The Trails: You can choose to walk the well-groomed Musquodoboit Trailway rail-to-trail (15 km / 6-8 hour trek), or take one of the secondary routes branching from the main Musquodoboit Trailway:
Admiral Lake Loop | 5.5 km | 4-5 hours
Bayer Lake Loop | 2 km | 45 mins
South Granite Ridge Trail | 8.8 km | 6-7 hours
North Granite Ridge Trail | 9.25 km | 6-7 hours
Gibraltar Rock Loop | 1.3 km | 1.5 hours
During the autumn months, the blazing yellow of sugar maples, larches, and ferns; and the bright reds of the red maple and red oak truly steal the show.
TIP: Digital cameras and smartphones mean taking photos has never been so easy, but taking great photos doesn’t just happen.
→ Seek out the colours of fall with the experienced photo guides of Picture Perfect Tours for a guided tour along the Eastern Shore as they share tips, techniques and hidden spots on this undiscovered wild coast. Learn more.
On your way back to the city, take a detour through another stunning Nova Scotian valley
The Musquodoboit Valley is a different side of the Halifax region, featuring inland, wooded terrain, laced with rivers and valleys. The forests and farms are a gallery of fall colours, full of places to stop and take in nature’s show.
Fall colours are everywhere in Nova Scotia, but Elderbank Waterway Provincial Park and Musquodoboit Valley Provincial Park are good places to swing by for a look, or stop for a picnic. Or, just follow Route 357 as it follows the Musquodoboit River to see the colours of fall reflected in calm blue water.
Fun fact: Scientists have a number of theories as to why trees change their leaf colours in fall, but there’s no definitive answer. We’re just lucky they do!
Where to Stay
If you're planning on staying in the Halifax region, the Hampton Inn & Suites Dartmouthis a modern and convenient home base for exploring the Eastern Shore and Musquodoboit Valley.
Bonus - it's right beside Shubie Park – a 16-hectare urban park located at the head of Lake Micmac in Dartmouth. The maple, oak and birch trees shine brilliantly yellow and red, contrasting beautifully with the deep greens of the hemlock, red spruce and white pine trees.
A free hot breakfast will start your day right, and a swim in the indoor pool is a relaxing way to end a day on the road.
Pack & Prep
- Download Leafsnap to identify the trees you are looking at.
- Collect fall leaves for family craft projects.
- A hat, gloves, boots and a warm jacket take the chill off fall outings.
- Don't forget to bring your camera! Trust us, you'll want to capture the colour!
NoteThe Rose & Kettle Tea Room at Cole Harbour Heritage Farm will not be offering indoor service, but will have an outdoor menu only available from 11am-3pm on Wednesdays at Saturdays.