Author Topic: Nova Scotia Route Advice  (Read 4325 times)

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Offline whitebirch

Nova Scotia Route Advice
« on: February 04, 2012, 11:19:27 am »
Hi fellow bike tourers!

My wife and I and our five-year-old daughter are planning a 3 ½ month loop trip starting this May.

Here's our route in a nutshell: From our home in Portland, Maine, across Maine, into New Brunswick, ferry to Digby, through Annapolis Valley, over to Halifax, up far north coast pas Halifax (Route 7), onto CBI heading towards Louisbourg, then North Sydney, then ferry to Port Aux Basques, then up to Gros Morne and Northern Peninsula, ferry to Blanc Sablon, and ferries to Rimouski, then biking into Quebec City, and finally dropping down through Eastern Townships and over the mountains and back to Portland.

Fledgling journal here:, with the route shown on the 'Before the Beginning' page.

Here's a bit more about us and our trip: We're planning to take our time, about 25 miles a day, and will be heavy on the sightseeing and getting to know people side of the spectrum, rather than just grinding out miles. We're open to a spirit of adventure, and willing to go out of the way somewhat if there's a particularly scenic or interesting route. We'll be on standard touring bikes (Surly LHT's), with our daughter in a Weehoo (hybrid b/w a trailer and a tag-a-long/trail-a-bike). Dirt roads are not kind to us, although we can handle a mile or two here or there. And we're very slow (and a tad grouchy!) on hills. And we're high on safety - if a road is unsafe, we'll go somewhat far out of the way if there's an alternative.

So here are my questions, if anyone has time to give this some thought:

(1) From Digby to Annapolis Royal - Does anyone know if there is any way to hop a boat across the gut to Victoria Beach or Port Wade and cycle on the north shore of Annapolis Basin, via Granville Road, so we go by Port Royal? It also looks like going along the south shore, the only way to go is along Route 1, which doesn't look too appealing. I was thinking we might just ask around at the docks when we arrive on the ferry, and see if anyone would take us across in their lobster boat for a few bucks. But if folks tell me that Route 1 isn't so bad, then maybe we'll just take that.

(2) Grand Pre to Halifax - I'm hoping that 101 bears most of the traffic, and Route 1 isn't too bad in this stretch. Is that fairly accurate? We really want to see Kentville, Wolfeville, and Grand Pre, and don't want to do much backtracking, so we'll take Route 1 if we have to. Also, I've already done the South Shore, so cutting across on 12 and approaching Halifax from Chester isn't all that appealing.

(3) Halifax to Canso Causeway - We are pretty much planning to follow Route 207 and then 7 along the Eastern Shore, and then cutting across from Larry's River to Lundy to Guysborough, and on from there along 344 to the causeway. Is that the obvious way to go, or does anyone have other suggestions?

(4) Canso Causeway to Louisbourg - In part because of the aforementioned issues with hills, and in part because one of us has been there before, we're not planning on cycling the Cabot Trail. I know, I know, this is blasphemy! We'll save it for another time, we promise! So with that admission out of the way, the question is which is the best route from Canso to Louisbourg? Our instinct is to take Route 4 along the east side of Bras d'Or Lake and then getting to Louisbourg by either (1) taking Morley Road from East Bay to Marion Bridge, then Hillside Road to 22, or (2) Route 4 all the way to 22. Or would folks recommend 327 instead of Route 4? Route 4 is much more direct, and it looks scenic on the map, but is 327 some sort of hidden gem?

(5) Louisbourg to North Sydney - The most direct route looks to be 22 to Churchill Drive (in Sydney) to 4 to 305. Winding around through Mira and Glace Bay and New Waterford looks interesting, but quite a bit more distance. Unless folks highly recommend this, we'll probably do the former.

Thanks so much for any advice you might have!

Rob, Sarah, and Cedar
Portland, Maine

Offline bikerbob

Re: Nova Scotia Route Advice
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2012, 11:18:25 am »
You could contact Gary Conrad at Atlantic Canada Cycling.  He is the guru of bicycle tours in Atlantic Canada. 
In fact he has written  "The Nova Scotia Bicycle Book"
Enjoy your adventure

Offline geegee

Re: Nova Scotia Route Advice
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2012, 12:43:13 am »
I lived in Nova Scotia for a bit, Cape Breton to be specific. In general, the 100-series highways do funnel most of the traffic from the single digit highways they are parallel to, but it usually means that the old road is not as well maintained, hillier and narrower. Many sections of the 100-series are cycleable and have shoulders, and sometimes offer an attractive shortcut. Quite a bit of improvement on Highway 4 on the island since I lived there, it's wider and has less sharp turns than I remember. It gets a bit boring heading into Sydney but it levels out – there's very little flat land in Cape Breton and anytime you head inland you are in for a bit of a climb.

It's too bad sections of the coastal road from St Peter's to Louisbourg remains unpaved. It's truly the rustic part of the island with miles of secluded pebble coves like Gabarus.

Keltic Drive (305) to get to North Sydney is good, you are not missing anything skipping Point Edward.

Northwest Newfoundland is spectacular, but you won't be able to escape hills there! Best of luck, I envy your tour.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2012, 09:25:08 am by geegee »

Offline whitebirch

Re: Nova Scotia Route Advice
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2012, 01:31:17 pm »
Thanks for the help Geegee and Bikerbob! 

Someone else recommended the Trans Canada Trail from the Canso Causeway to Inverness.  Sounds very interesting.  But then it doesn't look like there's an easy way to get from Inverness to North Sydney. 

Anyway, thanks again!

Rob Levin

Offline damselfli

Re: Nova Scotia Route Advice
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2012, 03:59:16 pm »
I'm looking at Nova Scotia, PEI and New Brunswick areas as well as eastern Maine for a late summer bike camping trip, and I am wondering how your journey turned out? If you find time, please post some remarks here about your favorite spots, and things you might avoid next time.