Nova Scotia has soooo many awesome trails that walking around a provincial park may not at first come to mind.Of course ,parks like Blomidon and Cape Split are well-known, but don’t rule these smaller gems like Graves Island out of you walking repertoire.
To be honest, we were headed to Polly’s Cove trail, but once again Google maps thwarted our best efforts to find the trail head.Curses!
Graves Island is a popular provincial park located on Highway 3 just about 5 km east of Chester. We love it for summer picnics and mackerel fishing-it has a great little boat launch. The campground is busy all season-and why not? Perched on the lip of the Atlantic, the park has great views of some of the 365 islands dotting Mahone Bay, including the comparatively large Big Tancook.
During the warmer weather, there’s usually some sort of watercraft whizzing along and there’s a teeny beach for those braving the bracing even- in -August -chill of the Atlantic .
No swimming on this day, however. Cheated out of Polly’s Cove (for now) we looked for a hike that would shake the cobwebs out of our heads and give us a chance to stretch our legs. Graves Island is of course closed and gated this time of year but there is a parking lot near the boat launch,and it’s not a long walk across the causeway to the park proper, and including the trail around the islands, it’s just over 3.5 km.
There’s been an interesting historical feature added since I last walked the trail. Placards, fastened somewhat crudely to trees along the way tell the story of the history and settlers of the island. The province of Nova Scotia acquired Graves Island in the 1960’s and it was officially opened as a provincial park in 1971.
Much of the Graves Island trail has great water views and there’s a few benches so one can stop and meditate on the surrounding beauty. Today, though, my attention needed to be on the trail, – as the park is closed there is no winter maintenance-and there were a great many icy patches to pick my way across. I did manage to stay upright almost all of the way around. No harm no foul. Besides, footprints in the snow proved it was still a popular spot even in January.
What You Need to Know About Graves Island
- Civic address: 230 Graves Island Road, East Chester, NS
- Graves Island offers a 95 site campground, including 81 open (33 water and electric sites), and 14 wooded, with reservations being taken typically in early April.
- Graves Island is a drumlin, formed by receding glaciers. The island is 111 acres.
- Mackerel fishing is usually pretty good from mid July to the end of August and no fishing license is required for fishing tidal waters.
- 2019 may be your last opportunity to enjoy the Annual Mackerel Snappers Picnic. If you enjoy Grilled Mackerel, New potatoes, Cucumbers & Cream, Tea, Coffee or Juice and Dessert this is the event for you.It usually takes place the second Saturday of July .Call Della 902-275-2174 or Tammy 902-275-3107.