Hiking Cape Split with Kids

Hiking Cape Split with Kids

Cape Split is one of those quintessential Valley Hikes to do at least once in your lifetime.

I remember doing it several times in elementary school, then with friends in high school. The last time we hiked it, Daniel, my first born, was 6 weeks old, so we could carry him in the snuggly.

Family Photo

But, we had yet to attempt it with our boys (7,9).
For one thing I was terrified of the end – the sheer cliffs and the drops. They aren’t great listeners, and they have no fear. Many people, and dogs, had died by falling off the edge!



It’s the same reason I haven’t taken them to Peggy’s Cove. I’m scared.

Ok, I was scared of the constant complaining that usually happens on hikes, too. And attempting a 16km hike would test all of our limits.

But, on a beautiful day in November, we decided to risk it and take the kids, and one of their friends, to hike Cape Split.

It was one of the best days we have had in a long time!

A bit of information from Tourism Nova Scotia
The website says Cape Split Provincial Park Reserve is a 447 ha natural environment park located in Scots Bay, Kings County. The park is considered a provincially significant coastal landmark overlooking the Bay of Fundy and is a popular hiking spot. In addition to hiking, the park offers picnicking and opportunities to view wildlife and the impressive action of the Bay of Fundy tide. In 2013 a new parking area was opened. Vault toilets are provided, at the trailhead only.

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The current trail is approximately 8 km (5 mi.) one way, with a return travel time of four to five hours. Users are advised to stay on the trail, wear sturdy footwear and layered clothing, and carry plenty of drinking water. This is a day-use park, operating on pack-in/pack-out principles. No camping is permitted.

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Tips for Hiking Cape Split with Kids

1.    Warn the kids. Tell them that it’s going to be a long day. Don’t tell them too much, as you don’t want the complaining to start too soon! But, let them know that this is a day’s journey.

2.    Wear proper footwear. The trail is always wet. Wear hiking boots or waterproof boots. Sneakers really don’t cut it.

3.    Bring lots of snacks. One mom told me that she brought lots of hard candy to dole out along the way. Bribery works every time.

4.    Play games and do activities. Earlier, I wrote a blog post about activities to keep kids busy while hiking. I drew upon most of these!

We sang a lot of songs – making up funny rhymes with people’s names in the “Quarter Master Store”.
We played alphabet games – find a boy’s name that starts with each letter of the alphabet.
We played 20 questions.
We played I Spy.
The kids even made up their own story games and activities.

You wouldn’t believe how quickly the time went by just playing games!

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5.    Tell them about the hills. On the way out to the end it is a lot of uphill walking. This caused a lot of groaning. Remind them that this means it’s downhill on the way back!

The kids wanted me to let every other kid know that once you reach the really gigantic hill (trust us, you’ll know when you get there) there are only two more small hills after that. And, on the way back, when you reach the bottom of this hill, there are only about 15 more minutes!

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6.    Stay away from the edge. My kids aren’t great listeners, but when we talked about erosion and how there might not be land underneath supporting it, they understood. We talked about not going near the edge, and only going with an adult to venture on any paths.

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We took each child by the hand to give them a tour and show them the views. They were so in awe that they did exactly as they were told!

7.    Stay on the path. When you are almost at the end, there are parts where the cliff’s edge is right there. Stay on the path, and you will be fine. In most of the areas there was a giant log blocking the way to the edge. If you are really worried, make sure an adult is first. Stick on the path and you’ll be fined.

The path is marked by yellow ribbons. Don’t venture off. Don’t go down to the beach and tray to walk around unless you know EXACTLY what you are doing. Don’t risk it with the kids. Set a good example.

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8.    It’s cold at the end. No matter how hot it is at the trail head, it is cold and windy at the end. Dress in layers.

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9.    Bring a friend. We had the kids bring a friend a long for the hike. This gave them someone new to play with, and someone who would be more apt to listen to our safety messages! This was one of the biggest secrets to the success of our hike!

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10.    Listen for nature. We heard an owl calling and lots of birds.
11.    It’s totally worth it!

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When you get to the end of the split, the view is incredible, and never grows old.

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Bring a picnic and have a snack and a rest at the end. Enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature!

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Tell the kids the tales of Glooscap.
The name Cape Split is based on the fact that the end or tip of the cape is split or separated from the rest of the cape.
According to one Mi’kmaq legend, the Minas Basin was originally the beaver pond of the man-god Glooscap, who lived on Cape Blomidon at the base of Cape Split. Glooscap became angry with the giant beaver for mocking his magical power by building a dam and flooding the people’s lands.
Glooscap, enraged, the rock with an axe, breaking the beaver’s dam, thus allowing seawater to flood in. As the waters receded, Glooscap spotted Beaver hiding near
the far shore. Quickly he picked up huge clods of Mud and stone and threw them at his enemy. The wily Beaver escaped but these stones landed in the water and are known even now as the Five Islands.

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The best part of the day was the kids’ reaction to the hike.
They were incredibly proud of themselves!

“I walked 16 kilometers, or 10 miles!”

They couldn’t believe that they had done it. We couldn’t believe there was so little complaining!

With a 7-year old, 2 9-year olds, an old dog, and two parents, we walked out in 1hour35 minutes. On the way back it took us 1hour 45minutes because we were slowing down as we were tired.
The entire round trip, including picnic, took us 3h45 minutes.

Hiking with a Dog

Lots of people hike out to Cape Split with a dog. Be sure to keep them away from the edge of the cliffs, too, as many a dog has died or had to be rescued out there! Also, another man warned us that there were lots of porcupines in the woods. His dog had to be carried the last 4km out of the trail because it’s mouth was full of quills!

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The kids said it was a great day, and actually really enjoyed it. Probably because they were so proud of themselves.

“I feel so much stronger after that hike!”
“My body is stronger, my legs are stronger, my heart is stronger,” they said.

I added, and our relationships are stronger.

The next day, we asked Daniel (9) to do something rather difficult. He looked at us, and in all seriousness said,

“Don’t worry! I can do that! I hiked Cape Split!”

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