Mountain Biking in Nova Scotia
The ride at Jimmy's begins along a short spur that connects to a large, triangle-shaped loop, for a total distance of 28.5 km (17.7 miles). The ride is most often ridden (or attempted) in a counterclockwise direction. Beginning down the Old Halifax Road, you will ride toward a small community at the base of Coolen's Hill, which falls in between the villages of Seabright and Glen Margaret, on Highway 333. From Coolen's Hill, you will pick up the Old St. Margaret's Bay Road and ride inland toward Big Five Bridge Lake, before turning left and heading north across the barren, glacial landscape of Jimmy's Roundtop. Of course, for variety, you can ride the loop in the opposite direction, and for a shorter ride, you may want to use the road across Jimmy's Roundtop to create a 12-km (7.5-mile) out-and-back trip.
Finding the trail: Follow NS Highway 103 west out of Halifax. Take Exit 4 off the highway, and drive west on Route 3 for 2.5 km (1.5 miles). Turn left at a large sign for the Three Brooks subdivision, across from a pizza place and general store. Cross an abandoned railroad bed and immediately turn right. Continue to follow the signs for Three Brooks, turning left down Hubley's Lake Road, and following the paved road to its end, approximately 2.5 km (1.5 miles) from the old railroad crossing. There is room to park off to the side of the road.
Notes on the trail: Begin riding along the wagon track that extends beyond the road you drove in on. You will cross a small bridge over Flake Brook. The wagon track is sandy and strewn with rocks, and there may be large puddles across the trail. You will pass two abandoned cars and a narrow side trail to the left, before reaching a junction with a wide, unpaved fire road. Continue straight onto the fire road, which also branches back up to the right. Stay straight on this road for a short distance, and at the crest of a slight hill, as the road curves a little to the left, bear right onto a less distinct trail. This turn comes exactly 2 km (1.25 miles) into the ride and, though not obvious, is the first possible turnoff to the right. There may be flagging tape marking this junction, which is where you will finish the loop.
This trail is the Old Halifax Road. Built two hundred years ago, it is now overrun with alders. You will follow this old road almost all the way down to Coolen's Hill, which overlooks St. Margaret's Bay. During the spring and after heavy rainfall, every dip along the first portion of the road will fill with water. Continue straight past an offshoot on the right that looks like a logging road. A short distance beyond this point, you will reach a junction with Long Lake Drive. There is a gate across this road, which is on your left. Continue straight, following an improved gravel road.
Ride along the gravel road for approximately 1.2 km (0.75 miles). As it follows a curve around to the right, heading toward Croucher's Forks, look for a narrow trail that continues straight. Bear left onto this trail, which begins a rather rough, wet, and rutted course across Gates Brook and up along the base of Saddler's Hill. Continue straight, past another road that seems to go off to the left, uphill. You will descend along this trail, crossing a brook over what looks like a small, rocky causeway. Continue straight over another brook just a short distance farther. Just past this second brook, stay to the right of a large boulder to cross a small wooden ramp that leads up to a logging road.
Continue straight down this logging road. When we rode here, the area was being cleared and the trail progressed across a rough, rutted logging yard still covered with slash. Since then, logging activity has ceased and the condition of the trail may have improved. Also, the wooded areas along this section of the trail may no longer exist! Be sure to stay straight through this portion of the ride, passing any old or new trails branching to the left or right. After just a few kilometers (a mile or so), you should find yourself on the wooden bridge between Brine's Little Lake on the right and Albert Bridge Lake on the left.
Beyond the bridge, the trail condition should improve. Wooden's River runs parallel to the trail on the left, and the bank boasts a beautiful array of mosses and ferns. As you approach Coolen's Hill, look on the left for a rocky, narrow trail descending to the stream. There is an old wooden railroad trestle here that crosses the water at the base of Dolly's Pond. At this point, you can opt to cross the bridge and link up with the unpaved Old St. Margaret's Bay Road, along a series of narrow trails through the woods. However, these trails can be rather difficult to follow. As an alternative, you can choose to follow the Old Halifax Road out to its junction with Highway 333. Turn left on Highway 333, and cross the bridge over Wooden's River. Almost immediately, turn left up a dirt road. When you reach another dirt road that branches uphill to the right perpendicular to the road you are on, turn right and begin to climb. This is the beginning of the Old St. Margaret's Bay Road. You will ride up past a house and some old barns. Toward the top of the hill, you will pass a trail on the left; this is the trail you would have come out on had you crossed the old trestle bridge at Dolly's Pond. Continue straight on the Old St. Margaret's Bay Road.
If you choose to cross the old trestle bridge, you will see a trail to the right, and another one continuing straight ahead. Follow the trail straight ahead, which follows the bank alongside Dollys Pond. After just a short distance, turn right and follow a smaller trail up a hill. This trail may be flagged, and it follows a fairly obvious path through the woods. However, the going is tough, and most riders will find themselves walking their bikes up the hill. Be sure to stay straight along this trail, passing any offshoots. Although the distance is short, it may seem like a long time before you come to a T junction with an unpaved old road. This is the Old St. Margaret's Bay Road. Turn left to continue the ride.
Following the wide, obvious path of the Old St. Margaret's Bay Road, you will be riding east, into the more barren landscape that characterizes the inland portion of this ride. There is some climbing along this trail, and some of the slopes are rough and rocky from erosion. You will cross a brook over a primitive ramp bridge and pass a small clearing on the left. A short distance farther, you will pass an offshoot on the right that is barred by a green gate. Soon after the gate, you will come to another road branching off to the left at a right angle. This is where you turn off the Old St. Margaret's Bay Road and head north, up and across Jimmy's Roundtop. Turn left, passing an abandoned car that marks this intersection.
From this point, the ride follows the obvious path of a rocky old road, all the way back to the beginning of the loop. You will cross a bridge and ride up to Jimmy's Roundtop across a barren landscape of rock, huge granite boulders, and scrubby pine trees. Although you never gain much elevation, even at the top of Jimmy's, you will enjoy expansive views across the relatively flat terrain. Follow the main road toward Hubley Big Lake, which will be off to your right as you descend into Woodpecker Hole. You will pass an offshoot on the left.
Beyond the bridge at Woodpecker Hole you will gradually climb up Holland's Hill. You will pass an offshoot on the left that leads to Long Lake. Continue straight again, past an offshoot on the right. The road will curve around to the left and climb more steeply. Continue to follow the main road as it curves around to the right, passing a grassy trail on the left that descends to Long Lake. A short distance beyond this point, the road begins to descend slightly and you will pass the trail along which you began the ride on the left. Continue up the road for a short distance, before bearing right onto the wagon track that leads back to Flake Brook at the trailhead.
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Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication