What do you do with railways that aren’t in use anymore? Turn them into an active transit greenway that will get you all the way from Halifax to Lunenburg.
It started with a trip to ‘cheap movie night’ at the Bayers Lake Empire Theatres. The trail not only got us there quickly, but it made our movie night feel like more of an adventure (and helped us excuse all of the movie theatre treats). Since then, we’ve been taking progressively farther rides.
The first part of the trail, the one that takes you to the park, is the Chain of Lakes Trail. As indicated by it’s name, it runs along the Chain Lakes and Bayers Lake. These lakes are gorgeous but please resist the temptation to dive in as these are the municipality’s back-up water supply. Chain of Lakes runs parallel to Joseph Howe Drive in the west end of the Halifax core area, before turning west at Springvale Avenue. You can access the trail here, at the Ashburn Golf Course entrance and at Crown Drive off the St. Margaret’s Bay Road. The trail is newly paved in some sections and crusher dust in others.
There are a couple times when you have to cross streets that can be pretty busy in the Bayers Lake Business Park, but there are partial barriers to get you to slow down and indicate the crossings. From the Armdale Roundabout, this trail is about 4.5km long.
Once you get past Bayers Lake, the route becomes the Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea (BLT) Trail. This section is all crusher dust and includes benches where you can relax lakeside. These lakes can be swam in so pack your swimsuit and a towel.
You can check out info on these lakes from our Bus Route #21 post. This 7km section is also more wooded than much of the Chain of Lakes Trail and, from our experience, a little less crowded during peak times. There is a parking lot at the Bayers Lake end but it does seem to often be full.
When you get past Timberlea, you switch to the St. Margaret’s Trail. This one is mostly packed earth so we recommend being careful on rainy days.
However, this is probably the prettiest of the three routes so it is worth the trip out here. There’s the added bonus of the trail connecting to the Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail. There is a bike rack conveniently located at the head of this trail.
This 33km section is the most heavily wooded in some areas and has the most spectacular lake views. We found ourselves feeling pretty envious of the people who lived in the area.
On our most recent trip we took all three in an attempt to reach the Bike & Bean Café in Tantallon, part way along the St. Margaret’s Trail. After a 25km bike ride, Gillian’s furthest ever, we got there to find out it had closed early for Natal Day. However, we thoroughly enjoyed the ride and are glad to have an excuse to take it again.
To find out more about HRM’s greenways, check out http://halifax.ca/trails/.