Most Canadians are familiar with the iconic lighthouse, picturesque fishing village and beautiful granite coastline found at the world-famous Peggy’s Cove. It is one of the top Canadian attractions on the East Coast and the Tourism Visitor Information Centre served 22,781 guests from May – October 2016. Considering the population of Peggy’s Cove is around 640, that’s a lot of summer company!
If you go with children, you know to wear sturdy footwear (not flip flops), expect windy conditions (I mentioned it is the edge of the world right?) and adhere to the safety precautions posted. The ever present Sou’wester Restaurant sits atop a high point and offers good, home cooking, a gift shop and obviously, those fantastic views. It’s a great place to rest with kids who will no doubt also enjoy the large lobster tank, usually filled to the rim and teaming with activity. Watching lobster while drinking tea and enjoying some gingerbread desert sounds like a fine way to start a hike day to me.
That being said, there are other wondrous adventures that await you and your active family on the Chebucto Peninsula aside from the breath taking Peggy’s Cove. There are few others that stand out for their natural beauty. These are not places where you’ll be swarmed by people; black flies, yes, so come prepared. These are natural places full of silence, birds and animals and best of all for kids – space to explore.
MiCou’s Island is a 22-acre tidal island, in Glen Haven is a favourite destination for the whole family. It is accessible easily on foot only at low tides, so check the tide schedule ahead of your visit to know when you can cross the sandbar to the public beach. To get to MiCou’s (pronounced Ma-Koos), as it is known locally, just turn off HWY 333, the route out to Peggy’s Cove, on the Indian Point Road. Stay on it until you reach a gravel shoulder overlooking the ocean and the Island just ahead. The 10-minute drive to MiCou’s off the HWY is relaxing and wonderful in its own right. You’ll pass moored boats bobbing in the ocean, gorgeous cottages and interesting homes that have stood the test of time and weather, and through the twisty, coastal road you’ll end up along the shoreline looking out at a protected wilderness space with two wide empty beaches. No cookie cutter neighbourhoods here, just salty air, wind, and lapping waves.
Park on the gravel shoulder and walk over the bank to make your way to the sandbar on the far right. The rocks can be very large and seaweed covered, so steady hands for little ones are needed. The kids love this adventure, snacks and beach gear on our backs, and we wear rain boots if we’ve miscalculated the tides a bit. It’s like a portaging adventure and they squeal with delight once they’ve successfully crossed and made it to the safety and dryness of the beach where an endless supply of nature exploring and fun awaits. Whether you like to hike the Island, there are two trails (not regularly maintained), swim or play on the beach there are plenty of things to occupy all ages.
The Island is managed jointly by the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and the St. Margaret’s Bay Stewardship Association. Everyone is encouraged to treat the wilderness space with respect and leave it as you found it. It is a natural play land for kayakers, the odd dog walker and locals getting away for some quiet time. Tic-tac-toe in the sand, looking for snails in the water and wondering how close we are to those croaking bullfrogs are just a few ways we can easily pass two hours at Micou’s. Of course, the required rock skipping also comes into play as well as searching for treasures to drag back to the car – various shells, favourite shaped rocks etc.; my backseat is full of them. On our latest visit, we were lucky enough to see two deer munching away on a lawn that overlooks the ocean. They were happily enjoying the fresh grass and left us all feeling like we’d finished our visit in a special way.
For longer treks, check out the Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail and the hikes of the Old St. Margaret’s Bay Road, both offer remote wilderness excursions on the Chebucto Peninsula.
A Walking Guide to the Old St. Margaret’s Bay Road!
Want to read more about the region? A second edition of the book A Walking Guide to the Old St. Margaret’s Bay Road was released in 2017 by the Five Bridges Wilderness Heritage Trust. It describes points-of-interest, offers full-colour photos, maps and GPS coordinates to landmarks across this more than 200- year-old road that stretches across the Chebucto Peninsula through the wilderness and protected areas.
Story By Joanne Ellis
Joanne Ellis is a proud Maritime Mom who loves the outdoors and sharing it with her children. She freelances as a communications consultant while trying to squeeze in time for her books and gardens.