Currently, formal trails in the Backlands include
– a walking trail located in the Shaw Wilderness Park maintained by HRM/ Nature Conservancy of Canada – see update;
– a walking trail in Purcell’s Cove Conservation Lands (PCCL) maintained by the Nova Scotia Nature Trust;
– a suite of existing and planned mountain bike/walking trails in the McIntosh Run Watershed constructed and maintained by the McIntosh Run Watershed Association.

All of these trails were developed or officially recognized post-2000.

There are many informal trails. Over time, the various groups working to maintain the ecological integrity of the Backlands while facilitating public access and enjoyment of these lands would like to see utilization of only the formally recognized and maintained trails.

Halifax Trails ( recognizes the Shaw Wilderness Park Trails and the McIntosh Run Trails but not the single-track walking trail in the PCCL:

Screen capture of Trails Map on HalifaxTrails. Click on image for larger version (accessed June 20, 2023)  View Google Map

Screen capture from Halifax Trails Click on image to go to Halifax Trails

Under Best Trails in Purcell’s Cove Backlands, highlights 4 trails:

Colpitt Lake : Check out this 4.0-km loop trail near Fergusons Cove, Nova Scotia. Generally considered a moderately challenging route. This is a popular trail for birding, hiking, and snowshoeing, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.”

Purcell’s Pond and Flat lake Loop: Head out on this 6.8-km loop trail near Halifax, Nova Scotia. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 1 h 38 min to complete. This is a popular trail for hiking and running, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day. The best times to visit this trail are April through October. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash

Kings Quarry Trail: Explore this 2.3-km out-and-back trail near Fergusons Cove, Nova Scotia. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 35 min to complete. This trail is great for birding, hiking, and snowshoeing, and it’s unlikely you’ll encounter many other people while exploring. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash. 

Flat lake Loop [PRIVATE PROPERTY] This trail is on private property. Please head somewhere else unless you’ve been invited by the owners.

The initial sections of the Kings Quarry Trail and the ‘Purcell’s Pond and Flat lake Loop’ overlap with Nova Scotia Nature Trust trails on the Purcell’s Cove Conservation Lands.




NS Trails (
“We have more than 10,000 kilometres of trails to explore throughout Nova Scotia, spanning wilderness areas, rural communities and urban centres alike. Our vast networks of outdoor trails are a great source of pride for Nova Scotians. The Nova Scotia Trails Federation (NS Trails) is the collective voice of the trails sector. We are proud to provide resources and support to more than 140 volunteer community groups and municipalities across the province, helping them to build and maintain safe and enjoyable trail experiences for all. We are also the official provincial partner of the Trans Canada Trail, the longest trail network in the world.”
Under Resources:

MRWA to add 16 km of new trails in Backlands (Halifax, NS) 19Apr2023
Post on this website Apr 19, 2023

Michael Haynes: How urban development, climate change have shaped Halifax’s hiking trails
Suzanne Rent in the Halifax Examiner June 20, 2023. “…A lot has changed in the hiking world and for hikers since Michael Haynes published his book Trails of Halifax Regional Municipality in 1995. Haynes now has a third edition of Trails of Halifax Regional Municipality, which was published by Goose Lane Editions of New Brunswick. This edition has 50 new and revamped routes that he said are fun, easy hikes for people interested in hiking and don’t know where to start. He considers this book a family-friendly hiking guide.”

First excursion on new entrance to Shaw Wilderness Park made a good impression
Post on this website, May 20, 2023

Bikes, bears, and biologists: can mountain biking coexist with nature?
By Kathryn Helmore June 7, 2021 in Good review of issues relating to trails and wildlife.

It’s not trails that disturb forest birds, but the people on them
EurekAlert Nov 12, 2018. Forest trails that are used more frequently for human recreation have fewer birds and not as many bird species – even when the trails have been used for decades. It cites this paper: Effect of Recreational Trails on Forest Birds: Human Presence Matters, by Yves Bötsch et al., 2018. In Front. Ecol. Evol., 12 November 2018. ABSTRACT “Outdoor recreational activities are increasing worldwide and occur at high frequency especially close to cities. Forests are a natural environment often used for such activities as jogging, hiking, dog walking, mountain biking, or horse riding. The mere presence of people in forests can disturb wildlife, which may perceive humans as potential predators. Many of these activities rely on trails, which intersect an otherwise contiguous habitat and hence impact wildlife habitat. The aim of this study was to separate the effect of the change in vegetation and habitat structure through trails, from the effect of human presence using these trails, on forest bird communities… These findings imply that the mere presence of humans can negatively affect the forest bird community along trails. Visitor guidance is an effective conservation measure to reduce the negative impacts of recreationists. In addition, prevention of trail construction in undeveloped natural habitats would reduce human access, and thus disturbance, most efficiently.”
*Update Sep 20, 2023: In 2022, NCC (Nature Conservancy of Canada) contacted David Patriquin to suggest a name for the single track trail in the Shaw Wllderness Park (he had conducted ecological studies of the area). David in turn met with Mi’kmaw linguist Bernie Francis and anthropologist Trudy Sable to consider possible Mi’kmaw names for the trail and some associated landscape features. They walked the trail, had several meetings and made their recommendationsto NCC/HRM in Nov of 2022. The names have been accepted and will be posted on signs and related information provided in 2024.