Kentville Bird Sanctuary Trail
**UPDATE: I returned in the summer to check out the trail without snow!**
I had always heard that there was a bird sanctuary in Kentville, but to be honest, never thought more about it than that! Part of me thought that it was just the section of the rail trail behind the Evergreen Nursing Home.
There’s a lot more to the Kentville Bird Sanctuary than that!
To find out exactly, we enlisted the help of Gillian Yorke from the Town of Kentville to take my friend Vanessa and I on a guided snowshoe hike one wintry morning!
Here’s what Environment Canada says about it:
Kentville Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) lies just west of the town of Kentville, in Kings County, and a portion of the MBS lies within the town boundaries. This 200-ha wetland is a floodplain marsh with numerous small shallow ponds and backwaters along the meandering course of the Cornwallis River.
This MBS is of local significance for regional waterfowl populations. Broods of American Black Duck, Blue-winged Teal and Green-winged Teal have been observed in the sanctuary marsh. The slowly meandering river and adjacent shallow ponds support an abundance of plant and animal life. Red-tailed Hawks and Northern Harriers are frequently seen foraging over the open meadow, and the woodlands adjacent to the walking trail are a favourite haunt of local bird watchers. During late summer and early fall, the MBS serves as a concentration area for waterfowl during migration, with numbers reaching several hundred on an average day.
A propotion of the Bird Sanctuary can be visited via a walking trail. This trail is not maintained by the Town of Kentville, but respectful visitors are invited to use the trail. It is not sign posted, but easy to follow. In the winter, it is well used as a cross country skiing and snowshoeing route, so it is quite easy to follow the trail.
How to get there
Park behind the Evergreen Home for Special Care. There is a parking lot behind the building. At the far left corner of the parking lot there is a wooden fence with a trail leading to the rail trail. Cross over the rail trail to the other side and pick up the trail from here. If you are coming down the Rail Trail, there is a mini stop sign on each side (and a dog poop receptacle) at the junction. Evergreen will be on your left and the trail head on your right. Also look for the blue sign indicating that the area is a bird sanctuary. Follow the trail parallel to the Rail Trail for a few feet before it curves around to the right. Once you are down to an open area, there will be a choice of where to go. It doesn’t matter which way you turn as the trail from here is a loop. Map When you are on this loop section, there is another branch off (that loops around and joins the main path) that you can take for an extended loop. Everything loops around and connects. It’s fairly hard to get lost back there, but do keep your bearings and keep in mind what direction the lake and the Rail Trail are in! There are a couple of “spurs” off the main loop. The first one leads down along the edge of the water, but comes to a dead end. There is another “spur” off the top of the trail (parallel to the water). This is another lovely path, only a few yards long, that ends at the water in a deadend.
Two thumbs up for family fun!
Bird Sanctuary Trails Extension
If you would like to extend this loop a little bit, it’s easy to do.
Follow the above trail description. You can make two choices.
When walking along the road (past the sand piles) you can go straight into the woods on the loop trail. When you exit the loop (and end up at the sand piles again), turn RIGHT towards Coldbrook, instead of turning left to return to the starting point.
Alternatively, skip the loop in the woods, and continue going straight down the dirt road.
In the summer, this would be a great place to bike!
Continue following the path straight towards Coldbrook. You are parallel to the rail trail.
A few feet further down, look to the right towards the river. You will see a hut. This is a fun place to explore, and you can even leave a note in the logbook inside!
I didn’t realize at the time, but when we did the Coldbrook Trails, this was our end turning point! We were seconds from the Kentville bird sanctuary trail!
After passing the hut, continue straight down the path. Eventually, you will come to an intersection.
It is marked with a blue ribbon.
If you go straight, you will connect with the aforementioned Coldbrook Walking Trails.
Turn left and follow this path until it comes to an end.
You will come to another intersection.
Turn left. This will take you “in front of” the sand pit. Basically, you’ve done a big horse shoe.
If you are feeling brave, instead of taking the path around the gravel pit, walk straight ahead, cutting across it, to join up with the road.
Keep following this road.
It will lead you through what is known as 7 Bridges and back to the Rail Trail. Turn left and head back to the parking lot behind the Evergreen Nursing home.
This whole extended loop took us about an hour in the winter with 3 kids and 2 dogs.
Another entrance point
You can also access these trails through 7 Bridges and the GK Morse Gravel pits by parking at the bottom of Mitchell Street, Kentville.
Off Mitchell, the pond and bridges are in behind the rail trail.