Start your adventure at the head of the Salt Marsh Trail on Bisset Road in Cole Harbour, where there is ample parking for cars and motorbikes.
Within minutes of stepping onto the Trail, you are in the forest and the distinct scents of evergreens – spruce, cedar, pine or balsam fir – fill the air. You will see the first of many amenities, tactfully installed along the first third of the Trail. Benches, a restroom, interpretive installations and marker at every kilometre will help with navigation. The Trail itself continues on, giving no hint of what’s ahead.
Next on your walk is Rosemary’s Way, a rest stop and the beginning of the saltwater marsh. Marshes are vital ecosystems, wild with colourful insects, flowers, shorebirds and other wildlife. These wetlands are flooded and drained daily by tidal activity and contain a myriad of bacteria that can sometimes give off a peculiar whiff!
Soon the salty air will take over, and the Trail will appear to leave the forest and pour out onto the cold waters of the North Atlantic Ocean (when the tide is in) or the open mudflats teeming with wildlife (when the tide is out.)
Water brings canoes and ducks; mudflats bring clam diggers and singing shorebirds. On an overcast day you may find a great fog bearing down on, and silencing, the water. It’s an ideal moment for a budding photographer who can catch a mirror image of the shore at this moment.
In any weather, when crossing the incredible, four-bridge causeway, remember you will be open to the elements for a couple of kilometres. As glorious as it is, you’ll need plenty of sunscreen in summer and cozy layers in winter.
Once you’re back among the trees, you are about two-thirds of the way to the end of the Salt Marsh Trail. But why end the day there? If you keep walking, you can continue on to the Atlantic View Trail until you hit Lawrencetown Road (Hwy 207).
You’ll come to a small ocean beach on the right – a wonderful outdoor “studio” for selfies, particularly in the summer when the wild flowers are in bloom. Up the hill is your destination, the storied MacDonald House located at 4144 Lawrencetown Rd.
Once in MacDonald House, start at the café. Enjoy a beverage or small lunch and rest your legs. Your eyes will quickly catch the view of the ocean, the white caps forever churning.