Anyone who has slept under an Atlantic sky knows that the East Coast is a camper’s dream. Nova Scotia boasts some of Canada’s most accessible, friendly and striking coastline, dotted with white sand beaches, craggy headlands and isolated islands. The forested interior is just as beautiful: here you'll find tea-tinted lakes, mossy gullies and burbling rivers. Some of the darkest skies in the country can be found here, perfect for a tent-less night under the stars.

photoWilliam Klos Flickr cc by 2.0

The locations on this list are wilderness areas and not conventional campsites. They’re delicate places where you can sleep for a night or two if you’re respectful. Leave no trace, check online whether it’s permissible to have a fire and watch where you step, as many areas are home to rare plant species and roosting birds. Some are near parking areas, others are a long hike or paddle away. These are remote wilderness areas and provincial Crown land camping rules apply. If you’re heading out to these isolated spots, prepare accordingly. Most importantly, keep these special places wild for future campers to enjoy.

 

 

South Shore

photoDennis Jarvis Flickr cc by sa 2.0

Tidney River Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains over 22,000 hectares of protected land. Wild sites are available for adventurous campers.

Amenities: None 

Site address: Located near the community of Sable River and accessed by logging roads or by canoe. 

Additional information: The area is known for great river paddling and wildlife viewing.

Bowers Meadows Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains over 4,000 hectares of protected land. Many wild sites available.

Amenities: None 

Site address: Accessible from near the community of Clyde River. 

Additional information: Canoeing, fishing and bog hiking are common here.

South Panuke Wilderness Area

Site overview: This site contains over 6,800 hectares of protected land. There are many wild sites and several secluded beach sites available.

Amenities: None 

Site address: Access the site near the tiny community of Caanan.  

Additional information: The area is centered around Panuke Lake, a large tea-coloured lake that stretches across much of Nova Scotia. It is a great spot for canoeing and fishing.

Tobeatic Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains over 120,000 hectares of protected land, making it the largest in the province. Here you'll find beautiful but rugged areas perfect for pitching tents.

Amenities: None 

Site address: Site can be accessed by a forest road north of Ninth Lake and by the old roads to Crain Lake and Silvery Lake. Located near the tiny hamlet of Upper Ohio. 

Additional information: Isolated lakes and rivers perfect for swimming, canoeing and fishing. Part of a Dark Sky Preserve, so it’s a wonderful place for star gazing.

Tusket Islands Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains over 700 hectares of protected land, dotted with saltmarshes, headlands and islands.

Amenities: None 

Site address: Site can be accessed from the small community of Wedgeport, near the town of Yarmouth.

Additional information: Great area for sea kayaking, bird-watching, clam-digging and swimming.

Bay of Fundy

photoDennis Jarvis Flickr cc by sa 2.0

Raven Head Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains over 5,600 hectares of protected land and over 44 km of coastline.

Amenities: None 

Site address: Site can be accessed from the small community of Apple River or the hamlet of Shulie.

Additional information: Great area for finding fossils, swimming and coastal hiking.

Kelley River Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains just over 21,000 hectares of protected land, including hills and flats, alder swamps and mixed forest.

Amenities: None 

Site address: Site can be accessed from the small hamlet of River Hebert.

Additional information: The area is home to fantastic fishing holes, at-risk species and mature trees.

Walton River Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains over 2,200 hectares of protected land, focused around a meandering river, with clay banks perfect for camping. 

Amenities: None 

Site address: Site can be accessed from the community of Walton. 

Additional information: Play in the thick river clay (known to be great for your skin) or canoe when the water is high. Explore wild saltmarshes and camp under old-growth maple trees.

Cloud Lake Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains over 15,800 hectares of protected land, featuring a granite bedrock, large lakes and rare tree species.

Amenities: None 

Site address: Site can be accessed from Hwy 10 near the community of Nictaux Falls. 

Additional information: The area is well-known for sport fishing and hiking. Keep an eye out for Eastern White Cedar, a vulnerable tree species in the province.  

Devil’s Jaw Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains over 2,700 hectares of protected land covered in two thick forests that feature quartzite ridges and rivers.

Amenities: None 

Site address: Site can be accessed from the community of Lakelands, via the Long Lake boat launch road.  

Additional information: The area is well-known for wildlife-watching. Keep an eye out for bald eagles and the rare Northern Goshawk.

Eastern Shore and HRM

photoDennis Jarvis Flickr cc by 2.0

Rogues Roost Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains over 1,100 hectares of protected land including nearly 18 km of coastline and 22 islands.

Amenities: None 

Site address: Site can be accessed from the community of Terence Bay, via Nice View Drive.

Additional information: Located within the area is some of Nova Scotia’s best rock climbing. Sailor and photographers also flock to this area.

Terence Bay Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains over 4,500 hectares of protected land on the wild Atlantic coast, close to the urban centre of Halifax.

Amenities: None 

Site address: Site can be accessed from the community of West Pennant. 

Additional information: Coastal kayaking, boating and hiking along wilderness trails are fantastic activities in the area. 

Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains nearly 8,600 hectares of protected land within a short drive of Halifax.

Amenities: None 

Site address: The site can be accessed from various locations. The most popular option is through the Bluff Wilderness Trailhead near the community of Timberlea.  

Additional information: This area contains the first trail in a wilderness area where bicycling is allowed.

Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains over 1,700 hectares of protected land close to the largest urban centre in the province 

Amenities: None 

Site address: The site can be accessed from various locations. The most popular option is from Kearney Lake, or the community of Timberlea. 

Additional information: Located just minutes from Halifax, this area offers isolated forests, interconnected waterways and parts of a traditional back-country canoe route. 

Eastern Shore Islands Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains over 1,800 hectares of protected land spread across 400 islands.  

Amenities: None 

Site address: The islands are accessible by boat, kayak or canoe. There are many launch points along the entire shore, from Clam Harbour to Marie Joseph.  

Additional information: The islands are marine wonderlands, with secluded beaches, coastal barrens and waterfowl habitats.

Cape Breton

photoNicole Bratt Flickr cc by sa 2.0

Gabarus Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains over 3,800 hectares of protected land including 20 km of Atlantic coastline.

Amenities: None 

Site address: Easily accessible from the community of Gabarus, located 40 km from the National Historic site of Louisbourg.

Additional information: Exceptional wilderness coastal hiking, kayaking and abandoned fishing villages await intrepid campers.

Scaterie Island Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains over 1,500 hectares of protected land on one of the largest islands in Nova Scotia.

Amenities: None 

Site address: Scaterie Island can be accessed by boat or kayak. Sometimes during the summer, it is possible to catch a ride to the island with the local fishing fleet based in the small community of Main-a-dieu.

Additional information: Exceptional coastal hiking on high sea cliffs. The island is subject to harsh ocean weather and heavy fog. Be very careful if kayaking to the island. Consult locals on conditions before departure.

Polletts Cove – Aspy Fault Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains over 27,000 hectares of protected land including soaring headlands, highland barrens and forested canyons.  

Amenities: None 

Site address: Various access points. Most commonly accessed via the communities of Pleasant Bay, Cape North and Meat Cove. 

Additional information: This area covers some of the most varied and challenging terrain for back-country campers in the entire province.

Margaree River Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains over 8,900 hectares of protected land covering steep canyon sloops and a raging river. 

Amenities: None 

Site address: The site is accessible from the communities of Portree and Grand Etang, via forest access roads.

Additional information: Watch the Atlantic salmon run or go hiking to several waterfalls.

French River Wilderness Area

Site overview: The site contains over 23,000 hectares of protected land including high plateaus and vast lake systems.

Amenities: None 

Site address: The site is accessible from the community of Wreck Cove via Highland Road, an old access road into the highlands. 

Additional information: Remote and wild, this vast wilderness area is home to plateau lakes, coastal dunes, hidden rivers and stunning views of the coast. Come for difficult hiking, sport fishing and, of course, backcountry camping.

 

 

What's your favourite place to camp in Nova Scotia?

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