I was on my way this afternoon to access the Shaw Wilderness Park via an informal route, and lo and behold, there was the new entrance off of Purcell’s Cove Road with a sign and a parking lot now open. So I parked and embarked on the 350 meters of fine gravel trail leading up to Williams Lake.
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Below: Drumlin to the left
Photo at right:”The Gully”.
For some of the history of how this new park came about, view Halifax’s New Shaw Wilderness Park by Kathleen Hall, posted on the website for the Williams Lake Conservation Company, May 19, 2020.
As you walk towards Williams Lake, the approx. 10 feet wide trail winds along beside the yellow birch-lined Lawton’s Creek to the right and a steeply rising forested drumlin to the left. It was one of my favourite routes to enter the Williams Lake Backlands in days gone by, but was not easy. The trail makes it so, without losing the character of the place.
I caught a glimpse of white by the fast flowing creek – it was the graceful hobblebush in flower.
The gravel trail stops at Williams Lake. Two young men were setting out on stand-up paddle boards; they had accessed the lake via the new trail.
From the end of the wide trail, a single track wilderness trail, well known to visitors of old, is marked out with small red tags. I followed it up to The Gully, that area in the contact zone between the granites and the Meguma rocks where water flows underneath large boulders and then emerges some distance below as a distinct stream.
Several of the the large boulders are covered with polypody fern that remains green all through the year; the striped maple that will soon hang over it were just leafing out. It is surely one of the gems of the Shaw Wilderness Park.
The marked trail continues above The Gully to the point where a trail comes in from the Jack Pine-Crowberry barrens that look out across a treed landscape to the tall buildings of peninsular Halifax. Other trails were being marked out.
I continued on until I could view the “Big Fen”, another favourite sight, and then returned.
It was a short excursion, but walked without hurry. In these days of covid-19, I especially appreciated the new park as a readily accessible “urban wilderness” where one could lose oneself in nature.
I met about 20 people in the course of my walk; I talked to a few of them who were there for the first time. Like me, they were impressed with the place and the new access.
To which I say, Well Done HRM, NCC and Allan Shaw & Co.
– David P