The best weekend mornings start with a burst of invigorating fresh air, and end with a hot coffee and fresh homemade cinnamon buns… at least, that’s how our morning went last Sunday. And I would repeat it for the next thousand Sunday mornings if I could.
Just before 9am, Nick and I jumped into the car and took a quick drive to the Bluff Wilderness Trail for a hike with my cousins. This collection of trails is located just 20 minutes outside of Halifax, on highway 103. Turn off the highway at exit 4 in the Timberlea/Hubley area, and drive just a couple more minutes down the road to the trail parking lot on your right. Keep your eye out, as it’s easy to miss (I did miss it, oops).
At 9:15, we met up with my cousins, and headed off on our adventure. The hike begins on the BLT Rails to Trails path, which connects with the Bluff Trail just a few minutes from the parking lot. Once we arrived at the Bluff, we checked the map and confirmed that we would be doing the Pot Lake Loop as our hike for the morning.
The Bluff Trail is made up of four loops, and you can do any combination of loops that you want; however, the two longest loops require actual preparation and even a night in the woods to complete. For the purposes of our Sunday morning hike, we stuck to the 7.5 km Pot Lake Loop, the shortest trail but not a super short or easy hike by any means.
The trail loops around Pot Lake (if you couldn’t guess from the name ha!), which provides beautiful views along a lot of the trail. Early in the hike, we crossed boardwalks over streams and marshy areas, and climbed up rocky terrain. Because the climax of this trail is a beautiful look-off high up, the first half of the hike is upwards… great to get your heart rate up! And speaking of which, look out for runners on the trail who tend to sneak up when you’re distracted by your surroundings.
After about an hour or just over that, we made it to the look-off. The views were spectacular, overlooking several lakes, as well as kilometers of autumn-coloured trees. Some keen, early-morning hikers were already relaxing at the top with their thermos of coffee or an energy bar. I would definitely take a snack and a hot (or cold, in the summer) beverage to enjoy at the top next time around.
We snapped some pictures and took in the view before taking off again… down the wrong path! It’s important to note that each loop is colour-coded (Pot Lake is yellow), so you want to keep an eye out for the corresponding coloured tags along on the trail to keep you on track. There are many forks in the road that could lead you down other, longer loops, so just keep that in mind before you end up unexpectedly adding multiple hours to your hike.
Our hike down the hill to the end of the loop had less lake views; the path went through denser forest instead. So peaceful! There were, though, more hikers passing by at this point in the trek. I would definitely recommend going earlier in the morning if you’re headed to the Bluff on a sunny fall weekend day. More parking space and less people to pass in the trail. However, everyone was so friendly and cheery so it was very pleasant.
After 2.5 hours, we found ourselves back at the parking lot, tired and very satisfied. My cousin invited us to her place to refuel with some post-hike coffee and freshly made cinnamon buns… I would definitely try to integrate similar treats into your post-hike routine if you can 😉
The Bluff Trail was beautiful and a fantastic morning workout. If you’re around Halifax or coming to visit, I recommend taking the Pot Lake Loop. Like I said, it’s not the easiest terrain, but you will feel accomplished after you complete the loop… just make sure to stick to the yellow-marked trail. My next goal for the Bluff is to try out the second, longer loop… so stay tuned for that post sometime in the near-ish future!
P.S. Have you done any part of the Bluff Trail? If so, share the best (and hardest) part of your hike in the comments below!