Distance: 12.5 km
Elevation gain: ~200 mView mapDownload GPS track
Cape Split is a popular and absolutely spectacular hike on the south shore of the Minas Basin in Nova Scotia. Based on the size of the parking lot and the number of people we met on the trail on a weekday, it likely gets crowded on weekends, so start early!
The trailhead is located at the end of the Cape Split road, which begins at the end of Highway 358 in the Annapolis Valley. It's not hard to find. Initially the wide trail climbs gently through mixed forest where several small springs keep things muddy. After about 2 km the trail levels out and becomes largely dry, following the cliffs on the north side of the peninsula. From this point forward to the climax vista at the end, the scenery is spectacular. The forest is nearly all old growth hardwood and at this time of year - mid spring - the forest floor was blanketed in white flowers. Coupled with patches of green grass and moss and a blue sky, it was the closest to a mythical enchanted forest I've seen. With leaves on the trees in the summer, I imagine things only get better.
The vista at the end, however, is what most people come to see. The peninsula of land on which you stand sticks out into the Bay of Fundy and forms a relatively narrow channel through which the worlds highest tides must flow into and out of the Minas Basin. This results in what is known as a tidal bore, whereby the ocean swells and surges past the cape. The sheer scale of it must be seen to be believed. Midway between high and low tide is when things are most spectacular with very little activity at high or low tide, so time your hike to be here between tides. Two huge rock pillars isolated by cliffs beyond the cape provide nesting grounds for seabirds too, so bring your binoculars to watch them.
One word of caution: The banks of the field at the end are severely undercut. Areas with grass, bushes, or even trees can be overhanging nothing but air, so stay back from the edge!