Acacia Valley Trail South: a rougher wilder extension

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
Published on March 14, 2014

A landowner in Hillgrove wants to share the beauty and peace of his woods with the community.

Larry Goodwin has signed an agreement with the Acacia Valley Trails association allowing them to maintain and promote a trail he built through his property.

“I walk here quite regularly and I enjoy it,” he said. “The peace and quiet. I think it’s a nice woods and I just thought others might like it too.”

Goodwin has flagged and cleared about four kilometres of trail starting across the road from the trailhead of the existing Acacia Valley Trail.

While the existing trail is wide and graveled, the new trail will be an undeveloped single track following the Pine Brook south for about a kilometre before turning east.

The new trail, known for now as Acacia Valley Trail South, climbs over several small ridges, possibly drumlins, and then follows an old corduroy road through a bog and then up into an old hardwood stand and past some impressive birch trees – some of them a good four feet in diameter.

The last 300 metres of the trail run across land belonging to the Department of Natural Resources where it links to 10 kilometres of DNR roads on the 1900-acre Pine Brook lot.

If or when the Acacia Valley Trails Association builds a bridge across Aunt Sarah’s Brook at the end of the old Acacia Valley Trail, the two trails will form a six- or seven-kilometre loop.

Goodwin had a pretty good idea where he wanted his trail to run and he laid it out by compass.

He’d take a bearing ahead a little ways and then flag the easiest way through, letting the trail wander a bit on its way forward.

He worked in from both sides, lugging a chainsaw and gas as he went and was much relieved when the two trails met up in the middle.

The trail crosses a few existing woods roads and makes use of one stretch across a bog built by Fred Haight when he logged the area.

Goodwin says the bog is full of all kinds of wildflowers in the spring and summer including Mayflowers (the provincial flower of Nova Scotia), Lady Slippers (the provincial flower of PEI) and Purple Violets (the provincial flower of New Brunswick).

The trail goes by several maples bent right over parallel to the ground with a series of full-grown trees growing up from them.

Goodwin’s favourite sight on the trail is one of the large birches with a flare at the base like a bench, perfect for sitting on.

Another large birch is bent, like a gymnast reaching over backwards towards the ground.

Some of the others have large cavities in them, which Goodwin says are often inhabited by porcupines.

The trail is pretty much ready to go, it just needs some minor clearing and normal ongoing maintenance and some signage and trail markers before it can be officially opened.

Bob Powell, manager at Digby Area Recreation, has written a letter to DNR asking for a letter of authority to maintain the 300 metres of trail connecting Goodwin’s trail to the DNR roads.

Powell is also working on a grant application to the Department of Health and Wellness to help pay for a bridge across Aunt Sarah’s Brook.

He is also talking with the All Terrain Vehicle Association of Nova Scotia for help with the bridge.

 The value of the project including volunteer work, signage for the new loop, and materials for the bridge could total in the range of $16,000.

Powell thinks ATVANS may contribute $2,200 and he’s hoping the Department of Health and Wellness will come through with $5,000.

“It’s too good a project for the small amount of money we need,” says Powell. “It opens up so much land for the ATVs and for recreation and it makes a nice loop out of the trail system.”

Powell says Goodwin’s new rustic trail offers a real undeveloped wilderness experience and says the bridge will make all the difference in the world.

“From a hiker’s perspective, if you can go the entire distance and not have to retrace your steps, it’s always more interesting,” he said.

The bridge will also serve to protect Aunt Sarah’s Brook as some ATVs are already travelling through the stream just above where the bridge used to be/ will go.

Powell is still waiting for the letter of authority before he submits the grant application and work won’t be able to start on the bridge until the summer anyway, when water levels are down and most watercourse permits are approved.

The Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness provided a $5,000 grant last year for renovations to the existing Acacia Valley Trail.

The Digby East Fish and Game first built that 1.5-kilometre trail in 1997 on land donated by Rona and Greg Hall.

The graveled paths lead to wooden viewing platforms with benches and tables, providing stable platforms for people with mobility issues to go and fish or just enjoy the babbling brook.

Besides the grant from Health and Wellness, many hours of volunteer work went into fixing up the trail and the Municipality of the District of Digby gave a  $575 grant for insurance.

Powell expects the new trail, possibly with a new name, could be opened in the summer or early fall.