Camping at Bluff Wilderness Trail

Hi friends! It’s been far too long. Life has changed a lot since my last post. I am now married AND a new mom to a sweet (human) baby girl. Our first baby girl, D the dog, has had to do some major adjusting. And so have I! But with our daytime routine finally coming together (again), I wanted to catch up on a few of the dogventures we’ve had over the past two years. I’m not sure what the future holds for this blog, but it feels great to be back for now.

Today’s post takes us all the way back to May 2017.

For J’s 30th birthday, I wanted to plan something special. The previous summer, we did our first backcountry camping trip at Kejimkujik National Park. We had so much fun. There is something really incredible about being in the middle of nowhere with nothing but yourself, your gear, and your friends, to rely on.

After that canoe trip, we were excited to try our first backpacking trip. We just didn’t know when we would be able to fit it into our crazy busy summer schedule.

So although the summer weather still hadn’t really arrived, I decided to plan a surprise trip – a quick one nighter – for J’s birthday, and for our very first backpacking camping experience.

Since this was our first time, and we had just two days to work with, I wanted to make sure we weren’t going to spend half of the day on Saturday and Sunday driving to and from the trail. After a little bit of research, I decided on the Bluff Wilderness Trail in Timberlea, Nova Scotia.

The Bluff Wilderness Trail is a great option for a weekend hike because you can get there in just 30 minutes, and you can easily complete the trail with two days of hiking.

Needless to say, J and D were both very pumped when I revealed our surprise weekend plans.

We headed out mid-morning on Saturday.

The Bluff Wilderness Trail is comprised of four stacked loops, which is great because you can do any length of hike that you want, and you can even change your mind partway through. We decided that we would probably go to either the 2nd or 3rd loop. Our aim was to camp at the “Crow” site, which appeared to be closest to the lake.  This site is located on the 2nd loop, and we wanted to do the majority of our hiking on Saturday. So we decided to hike in a clockwise direction, along the outside of Pot Lake Loop (1st loop), Mi’kmaw Hill Loop (2nd loop) and The Bluff Loop (3rd loop). (All of this will make more sense if you take a peek at the trail map.)

A quick word on camping in the Bluff Wilderness Area. Camping is not encouraged, but it is allowed. Leave-no-trace (LNT) camping is the goal, so that means you must carry out all of your garbage, and if you want to have a campfire, you should bring a stainless steel bowl to use as your base. There are only four individual sites in the area. You could probably fit two small tents on each site. The “sites” are really just flat areas where you can pitch a tent. There are no fire pits, no outhouses, no garbage cans. There is also no way to book the sites, so it is first come, first serve. For more information about camping in this area, click here.

If you’re planning on camping in the Bluff Wilderness Area, you should have a close look at the location of the campsites on this map. They were not marked on the on-site trail maps along the way, and the sites themselves are easy to miss. I would encourage you to print this map and bring it with you, and also follow your progress using Google Maps.

We did not make it to the Moose campsite (which is located on the 4th loop), but between the three other sites (Squirrel, Crow and Coyote), the only one we would consider worthwhile is the Crow site, where we stayed. While all three sites are simply flat spots in the middle of the trail, at least Crow was close to the lake. Still, these aren’t the kind of sites where you would want to spend time lounging around. Again, there are no campfires allowed, and the trail passes directly through the middle of these sites.

I should also mention that the Bluff Wilderness Area is an on-leash area, and I urge you to read and respect the Trail’s policy on this.

It took us about 3 hours to hike the approximately 16km to the Crow site on Saturday, and about 1.5-2 hours to hike back on Sunday. It was the perfect distance for our first backpacking camping experience.

For more information, including directions and a map to the parking lot, click here.

Have you hiked or camped at The Bluff? How was your experience?

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