Hirtle’s Beach Gaff Point Trail Nova Scotia Best Coastal Hike

Hirtle’s Beach Gaff Point hike is my favorite hike in Nova Scotia. So far. A return trip to Nova Scotia is necessary to hike more of this glorious Maritimes province. During a month staying in Bridgewater Nova Scotia I visited many of the South Shore beaches, along with trips to Annapolis Royal, Bay of Fundy, Blue Rocks, Cape Sable Island, Lunenburg, Ovens Natural Park, Peggy’s Cove, Walton, Wolfville, and finished up with a weekend in Cape Breton Island driving the Cabot Trail and hiking the Cape Breton Highlands.

 

Nova Scotia best hiking trail with beautiful coastal views, beaches, and forest, HIrtle's Beach Gaff Point hike is the one

 

Gaff Point hike VIDEO of various terrain and coastal views

 

 

 

House on the hill overlooking the ocean at Hirtle's Beach Nova Scotia

House on the hill overlooking the ocean at Hirtle’s Beach Nova Scotia

 

Still there is plenty more to see in Nova Scotia so I look forward to visiting again and exploring more of the Land of Evangeline.

 

Beach + Hike = Perfect Day Outdoors!

 

Watch the waves crash into the rocky shoreline from Gaff Point trail at Hirtle's Beach on Nova Scotia's South Shore

Watch the waves crash into the rocky shoreline from Gaff Point trail

 

Hirtle’s Beach Gaff Point is an incredible hike that starts right at Hirtle’s Beach. This makes it the perfect outing for both beach people and hiker people. Your partner doesn’t like hiking? No problem. Leave them at Hirtle’s Beach with a blanket, picnic basket, a good book, and some sunscreen, and off you go to hike Gaff Point to enjoy the incredible coastal views.

Did you know your chances of visiting the coastline in Nova Scotia are quite great? Considering nowhere in Nova Scotia is more than 67 km (42 miles) from the ocean.

 

 

Grassy trail near the forest at Hirtle's Beach Gaff Point trail South Shore Nova Scotia best hike

Grassy trail near the forest at Hirtle’s Beach Gaff Point trail

 

Come with me as I show you this incredible coastal hike on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. And be sure to check out the video of Gaff Point hike to show the various terrain and beautiful Nova Scotia coastal views.

 

Hirtle's Beach Gaff Point hiking trail begins right at the beach

Hirtle’s Beach Gaff Point hiking trail begins right at the beach

 

Getting to Hirtle’s Beach Gaff Point

Lunenburg to Hirtle’s Beach

  • Take Nova Scotia Trunk 3W approximately 12 km (7.5 miles)
  • Turn left onto NS-332 W (signs for Riverport) and continue for 4.3 km (2.5 miles)
  • Left turn onto Kingsburg Rd and continue for 1.5 km (1 mile)
  • Turn right onto Hirtle’s Beach Rd and continue for 1.5 km (1 mile)

Lunenburg to Hirtle’s beach is about 20 km (11 miles) and takes around 20 to 25 minutes

 

Gaff Point trail view of Hirtle's Beach from the hill

Gaff Point trail view of Hirtle’s Beach from the hill

 

Halifax to Hirtle’s Beach

  • Take NS-102 approx 3 km (2 miles) to exit 1A for NS-103 (signs for Peggy’s Cove, South Shore, Yarmouth) and continue 79 km ( miles)
  • Take exit 11 for NS-324 (signs for Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, Blockhouse) and continue for 10 km (6 miles)
  • Turn right on NS-332 (signs for Riverport/The Ovens) and continue for 13 km (8 miles)
  • Left turn onto Kingsburg Rd and continue for 1.5 km (1 mile)
  • Turn right onto Hirtle’s Beach Rd and continue for 1.5 km (1 mile)

Halifax to Hirtle’s Beach is about 115 km (71 miles) and takes around 75 to 90 minutes depending on traffic

 

Hirtle's Beach Gaff Point hiking information

Hirtle’s Beach Gaff Point hiking information

 

Hirtle’s Beach Gaff Point Trail Description

In the parking lot look for the sign board at the boardwalk right by the parking area. There is info about Gaff Point hike and this is the trailhead.

 

Gaff Point trailhead is the boardwalk at Hirtle's Beach

Gaff Point trailhead is the boardwalk at Hirtle’s Beach

 

Basically Gaff Point hike goes from boardwalk to sand beach to rocky beach to dirt trail along the base of the hill or choose to walk atop the hill (if no horses present in the field) and back to rocky beach, then into the forest and along the coast for much of the hike until you loop around and get back to the rocky beach and sandy beach.

 

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Gate from the horse field to Gaff Point hiking trail

Gate from the horse field to Gaff Point hiking trail

 

Hiking along the cliffs with stunning views of waves crashing into rocky coastline is an amazing experience. This hike rates right up there with some of the trails in the Cape Breton Highlands such as Middle Head or Skyline Trail. I actually enjoyed Gaff Point more than the Highlands hiking trails.

Learn about Hike the Highlands Festival in Cape Breton Highlands

 

Rocky coastline view from Gaff Point hiking trail

Rocky coastline view from Gaff Point hiking trail

 

The thing I love about Gaff Point hike is the variations in terrain and views along the trail. Plus the fact that it’s a loop means you cover more unique territory along the hike compared to an out and back trail.

 

Rocky shoreline at Hirtle's Beach - Nova Scotia South Shore

Rocky shoreline at Hirtle’s Beach – Nova Scotia South Shore

 

Hike the trail clockwise or counterclockwise?

Most people seem to do a clockwise direction around the Gaff Point trail. You don’t have to go clockwise though. I chose to hike Gaff Point counter-clockwise because I reckoned the blaring bright sun would be at my back for a good portion of the coastal trail. I figured it would be better for photography.

Gaff Point Hirtle’s Beach trail will be gorgeous no matter which direction you choose to hike it. Enjoy!

 

Yellow trail marker on a tree at Gaff Point hiking trail

Yellow trail marker on a tree at Gaff Point hiking trail

 

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Rocky coastline portion of Gaff Point trail Nova Scotia South Shore

Rocky coastline portion of Gaff Point trail Nova Scotia South Shore

 

 

Secret beach at Gaff Point hiking trail

While I searched online for info about Gaff Point hike I noticed a couple of claims of a secret beach. The beach these folks are referring to is a little off the main trail but it’s super easy to find, considering I managed to find it without even trying. There is a rope that leads down to the beach from the side of the cliff and hiking area and you’ll see it in my video.

 

Gaff Point trail through the forest along a timber boardwalk

Gaff Point trail through the forest along a timber boardwalk

 

What to bring to Hirtle’s Beach Gaff Point hike

  • Hiking shoes or sturdy running shoes are necessary for this hike due to the terrain you will cover. Trust me, you don’t want to attempt this hike in flip flops, the rocky beach will have you crying and cussing in no time!
  • Water bottle
  • Sunscreen, sunhat, sunglasses
  • Long pants are recommended since you will be in tick territory. There is a sign near the forest area warning of ticks. Spray with insect repellent, tuck your pants into your socks, wear a hat, and do a tick check after the hike.

Find out more about ticks and Lyme disease here

 

Ticks and Lyme disease - use insect repellent

Ticks and Lyme disease – use insect repellent

 

  • Insect repellent – something that will keep ticks away
  • Snacks or a picnic lunch
  • I always pack a first-aid kit with basics like bandages, hydrocortisone cream, alcohol wipes, eye drops, antibiotic cream
  • It’s a good idea to get in the habit of bringing the 10 Essentials on every hike.

Read now: What are the Wilderness Survival Skills Needed to Survive on Your Own?

 

Hirtle's Beach facilities include bathrooms, trash & recycle bins, bicycle rack, and picnic tables

Hirtle’s Beach facilities include bathrooms, trash & recycle bins, bicycle rack, and picnic tables

 

Gaff Point Coastal Trail map

Gaff Point Coastal Trail map

 

Hirtle’s Beach Gaff Point visitor info

Type of hike –  Loop trail

Distance – 6.5 km (4 miles) round trip

Elevation gain – 70 m (230 ft)

Time – allow 2 hour to 2.5 hours

Difficulty – Easy

Best time to hike – May through September

Dogs allowed on trail – Dogs must be on leash

Facilities at trailhead – trash and recycle bins, toilets, bicycle parking

 

Hirtle's Beach Gaff Point trailhead

Hirtle’s Beach Gaff Point trailhead

 

Much of Gaff Point trail offers beautiful ocean views

Much of Gaff Point trail offers beautiful ocean views

 

Hirtle's Beach Gaff Point hiking trail - shoreline depends on the tide

Hirtle’s Beach Gaff Point hiking trail – shoreline depends on the tide

 

Nova Scotia best hiking trail with beautiful coastal views, beaches, and forest, HIrtle's Beach Gaff Point hike is the one

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About the Author

Susan Moore's first solo travel experience was traveling around SE Asia for 7 months in 1993. It was life changing and extraordinary. Currently Susan is living a nomadic life, working and roadtripping around the USA and Canada. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

2 Comments

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  1. Jo Harmon says:

    OH MY this is so beautiful! the color of the water is amazing. Excellent video

    • Susan Moore says:

      Thank you Jo! I loved this hike so much! Still learning the basics for video, at least I managed to link all the clips together. Will have to learn how to add text and do some editing as well. And I best remember to clean my lens before shooting :/ Thanks for stopping by Jo :)

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