The Lilies are so Perfect (Indian Path Commons, Lunenburg County, NS)

Title an homage to Mary Oliver

I set up in my favourite tent site in my favourite South Shore campground by the ocean on a Friday night, with Saturday plans for a nearby trail I'd never done.

The first thing you need to know about Indian Path Commons is that you should ignore everything you read and see online that is not this post. Of the few references I found, all were out of date or inaccurate. The main trail is a 2K linear (one-way) which offers paths to scenic spots via two loops, each about 1.5K. In all then, it is about 7K.

Google is also wrong about how to access the trail head. There is a Fish Peddler Road, which Google Maps shows as connecting Rose Bay in the South and Indian Path Road, to the North. Fish Peddler Road from Rose Bay is now just a few metres of remaining single-lane roadway. It ends shortly after it begins. So you must, in fact, take Indian Path Road to Fish Peddler Road. Making things more interesting, there is no signage for Fish Peddler Road from Indian Path. Knowing where it should have been it was fairly easy to spot, and you can follow the signs to the Lunenburg Gun Club. Continue on this dirt road to the trail head on your right (which is very well signed, and has a roomy parking lot).

I have now spared you some of the "adventure" I had that day.

I was, as usual, saddened to see I was all alone on this trail on a beautiful Saturday morning. My car sat in a parking lot large enough for maybe eight cars.

A note of safety for this and any Nova Scotia trail, but especially Lunenburg County trails: Black-Legged Ticks are prevalent and Lyme Disease is everywhere. Take every tick precaution.

This little trail system is, in short, lovely. It was still relatively early in the season and yet there was no deadfall, no obstacles. It looked as if it had been built yesterday. Most importantly, while there were sadly no signs of human life, neither were there signs of human pollution.

I did the linear return and both loops. The Yellow Loop takes you right down to the side of a creek, which is utterly delightful, as it bubbles along beside you. A caution (and note to the Trail Association): There is a spur trail that forks to the left at the map noted "Look Off" on Yellow Loop. It is, however, completely unsigned. I followed the spur briefly where it seemed to fork again so doubled back in the interests of staying "not lost". Some signage here would be a great feature.

All trail sections are otherwise well marked, and most importantly the footpath itself is always very visible.

The Blue Loop was the wildest of all, the one where I felt the most "alone in the woods". Some softer trail sections had partially visible tracks and I stopped to try to identify them. Man? Deer? Large dog? Deer walking large dog? While I was laughing at myself (happens a lot), a large rustle in the forest came beside me. I called out firmly and the beast darted away, I caught only a glimpse through the leaves. In all likelihood a small deer, but I hauled out my hiking pole, and listened for sounds of being tracked for the rest of Blue. My first close encounter with wildlife on any trail (all flavours of dung aside).

Blue Loop leads you steadily to a small pond (you can see all sides) which is truly beautiful. The incredible stillness of it, yet thriving with so much life. Pitcher plants and lily pads lazing in the sun and mist, bull frogs engaged in animated conversation. It was like stumbling into a wildlife coffee shop, where the regulars had all shown up for their weekly Saturday morning social.

I left the pond reluctantly, finished Blue, the Green linear and my return to the trail head on Green. There is a small section near the end of Green where a rustic sign invites you to take the "Alternative Route via Stream". Do it; it's a very small trail section, it's prettier, and you beat a small hill.

At one point on Green I stopped for water. To my surprise, a pretty little Palm Warbler came out of nowhere and perched right on the rock in front of me. And this was the very special feeling I had on these trails: So completely uncontaminated by people that the wildlife were -- not fearful or acclimated -- just curious. I was that day just another creature in the wilderness.

Green terminates at an old road, so no worries about knowing when you're at the end.

I left Indian Path Commons more than a little enamoured of the place, and feeling very protective of it. I was torn on whether or not to even write this, perhaps instead keep the place as secret and beautiful for as long as possible. I am also aware, though, of the amount of time, expense and effort it takes for a Trail Association to create and maintain such a beautiful space, so I have decided it is better served by its purpose: For you to walk it, love it, and leave it exactly the way you found it.

How to find it (note earlier caution about Fish Peddler Road):


  1. Hiker Bee, I don't know if I can replicate from memory the comment that I left for your yesterday and that is now aloft in cyberspace, but no worries because after revisiting your post today I find that I am inspired anew. I often find myself coming back to this site to relax and enjoy your view.

    The way you write about the Nova Scotia hiking trails allows me to live vicariously through you to have a taste of adventure but from a safe distance. It's almost as if I was there along side of you, but be glad I am not because I am not brave and if ever I sensed that there was an unknown presence of wildlife in my midst, I would certainly not be an asset on the hike.

    Your writing and photographs often evoke in me sweet memories that are rooted in a familiar place, the birthplace of my parents and home to me for the first eight years of my life. I have only returned once, when I was sixteen going on seventeen (I'm thinking of The Sound of Music now :), and then I returned home to Toronto to discover I was expecting my first child. I could say I never looked back but that would not be true. Nova Scotia is imprinted on my soul. Whenever I look back with love and longing, I look to the East.

    These memories of my childhood home are a part of me. I will always remember the forest behind my house with sunlight peeking through tall trees as if I was under heaven's spotlight and being protected by the angels. I was certain there were bears. I was right. Yet this was my playground too and so I staked my claim, but never would I venture into the forest too deep by myself.

    I loved berry picking and the challenge of filling a bucket. That was not always so easy because I ate as I picked. Many idling hours I spent alone in open fields with colourful wildflowers and butterflies beckoning and bees a'buzzing. It was only little me and my imagination and Nature's critters smaller than I. How I enjoyed collecting polliwogs and frogs and toads from the clearest babbling brook near my Nanny's home. There stood the Catholic church on the hill across from her house a reminder that God was always watching and inspiring my best behaviour.

    When I close my eyes I can still conjure up the smell of wood, whether it be from a glade of trees or oak wood on the staircase and creaky stairs in my Nanny's home or the crackling of wood burning in the old country stove, with the added aroma of pies baking: All of it is impossible to forget and nor would I would wish to.

    Thank you for sharing your writing. It enlightens in a practical sense for those wanting to explore the landscapes you beautifully describe, and for those like me who wander into the inner terrain that is often elusive, your words twinkle like lights on a starless sky.

    This excerpt from your post is my favourite passage and illustrates your talent better than any words I could write. "The incredible stillness of it, yet thriving with so much life. Pitcher plants and lily pads lazing in the sun and mist, bull frogs engaged in animated conversation. It was like stumbling into a wildlife coffee shop, where the regulars had all shown up for their weekly Saturday morning social."

    Your ability to inspire is why I keep coming back to visit. It feels like home.

    Shine on.

    C. Lynn Richards

    1. Shine on <3 I always sing that song in gazebos (how could you not?)


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