Halifax to Lunenburg by Rail Trail

Halifax to Lunenburg by Rail Trail

Trip Highlights

  • Cycling on flat, protected rail trail
  • Sampling the delectable seafood available throughout the South Shore
  • Stopping to chat with friendly locals
  • Dipping your toes into the ocean at quiet local beaches
  • Taking in the views at colourful fishing villages
  • Spending time in Old Town Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Visiting pretty Peggy's Cove

Trip Summary

In the prohibition of the 1920s and 30s, many sailors in Nova Scotia stopped fishing and became international smugglers. Boats would pull into secluded harbours, islands and coves in along the province's South Shore and be easily concealed, while beaches and woods provided many discrete hiding places for liquor. Rumours say many barrels were shipped on the railway along she shore between Halifax and Lunenburg almost 100 years ago and thousands of gallons of alcohol were resold along the eastern seaboard of the US. The rail line no longer exists today, but has been converted to a recreational trail aptly named, the "Rum Runners Trail". Enjoy flat, sheltered cycling from one colourful coastal community to another while your luggage gets moved ahead each day. Sample abundant fresh seafood, chat with friendly locals, and take in the ocean air as you enjoy short rides on your trusty hybrid bicycle each day, with time to relax and enjoy the pretty coves, harbours, and fishing villages along the way. Spend each night in charming B&B's and inns, chosen for their hospitality and ideal locations. The trail is suitable for cyclists of all abilities, but there are also plenty of optional hilly detours for the experienced road warriors who are willing to go the extra mile for the best views.


The Rum Runners Trail is a converted railway line ('rails to trails'). As such, it is by far the flattest route from place to place (less than 2% grade). The trail is maintained in sections by different communities and some sections are in better condition than others. The majority of the Rum Runners Trail is a crusher dust trail bed ideal for hybrid cycling and riders of all abilities, but please be prepared for some pits and loose gravel in some sections. Cycling to/from accommodations requires some road cycling, but we've kept it to a minimum, by using accommodations within a short ride from the trail. Note, that on these sections, you will share the road with vehicle traffic. Nova Scotia drivers are generally very courteous to cyclists and keep a safe distance on quiet roadways.

There are plenty of opportunities to take road routes from one spot to another, to add out-and-back rides or additional loops. If you choose to do so, the level of difficulty increases significantly as roads are quite hilly and rides are often shared with fast-moving traffic. These options are meant only for road-savvy cyclists with good strength and stamina for hills on a hybrid bicycle.

Self guided walking or cycling requires individuals to use problem solving skills, be adaptable and have a keen eye. It is recommended that you are comfortable map reading, referring to route notes and that you have a good sense of direction (or are willing to work on improving this!). Cyclists will be expected to know how to fix a flat tire and make basic adjustments to their bicycles using the included repair kit.

Sometimes route finding, losing your way, finding it again and asking the locals for help is all part of the adventure. If you’ve never been on a self guided trip, after the first couple of days you will get the hang of if as the vast majority of our first time travellers attest. Please be assured that our written material issued to you for route finding is updated regularly and we provide a 7-day service hotline in the event of any problems.


Please make your way to your centrally-located accommodation in Halifax (contact information provided with final documents). The capital of Nova Scotia, Halifax is where many important historical events took place. Visit the Halifax Citadel, a fortress at the centre of the city, as well as the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which features exhibits from the sinking of the Titanic and the Halifax Explosion. We recommend taking a stroll on the 'Harbour Walk' and extending your stay to take advantage of the numerous shops, restaurants, museums, and optional day tours available from the city. Overnight B&B.

Meals:  Nil

First stop, Peggy's Cove! You will be picked up from your accommodation this morning and taken to the world famous fishing village of Peggy's Cove where you will have time to take some photos, buy some snacks, and visit the lighthouse (Be careful on the rocks and avoid any black rocks as they are very slippery!). Then it's back in the shuttle and to the trailside bicycle shop where you will pick up your bicycles, perhaps grab some lunch, and make any adjustments before starting your South Shore cycling adventure. Enjoy the views from this raised trail section, perhaps stop at a beach, and then settle into your quaint accommodation on the Hubbards waterfront.* Cycling = Approx 24km, +/-185m *Dinner is available at the inn, but there is an option to reserve a Shore Club Lobster Supper. Please inquire.

Meals:  B

Your inn does not provide breakfast, but there are good options within a short distance which will be outlined in your route booklet. The section of rail trail is almost exclusively through sheltered forest, but it's nice and short which allows you allows you an opportunity to catch the passenger ferry from Chester to quirky Big Tancook Island. For under $10 round-trip, hop onboard with your bicycle and make the 8km journey to the small island that was traditionally a fishing outpost. It has attracted a number of artisans over the years and offers visitors quiet roadways and trails that are great for cycling. We recommend grabbing a packed lunch in Chester beforehand, as there are little to no options to eat on the island. Returning to the popular vacation and sailing community of Chester, choose from a number of great little restaurants for dinner and enjoy the friendly hospitality at your cozy B&B tonight. *There is also an option to extend your ride today via the road that loops around the Aspotogan Peninsula. This option is only for road savvy cyclists as it is quite hilly with no shoulder, and it means missing Tancook Island (which could be done tomorrow instead). Cycling via rail trail = 27km (approx 37km including Tancook Island), +/-60m Via Aspotogan Peninsula road route = 57.5km, +/-480m

Meals:  Nil

Leaving Chester, head back on the trail toward Western Shore and trail through some peaceful woodland and across the Martin's River trestle bridge before entering the section called Dynamite Trail. As explained in the interpretive panels along the way, this section passes by Common Land, which was farmed by the area settlers and meant for the use of all citizens. Roll past pretty Oakland Lake and into the quaint town of Mahone Bay. Stop and enjoy lunch in one of the colourful cafes, try some local brew, and pop in for a complimentary candy at Sweet Rides bike shop before making your way on the remaining few kilometers of trail to the old train station and your B&B in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Town Lunenburg. Known as home of the Bluenose, this bustling community offers many shops, restaurants, attractions, and grand heritage buildings. Enjoy 2 nights at this pretty seaside destination. *At Mahone Bay, option to take the scenic (and hilly) road route to Lunenburg/Blue Rocks (must be comfortable riding with traffic) Cycling = Approx 40km, +/-40m (add 12km for optional out-and-back to Bluerocks via road shoulder)

Meals:  B

There are plenty of options to choose from in Lunenburg. Cycle out to the interesting fishing village at Bluerocks (12km round trip), take a loop road route and a ferry to artsy La Have (35km), or simply enjoy your time in the seaside port. A walking tour is a great way to learn about the local history and architecture, visit the shops and museum, explore the area by kayak, or perhaps hop aboard the famous Bluenose II for a sailing excursion.

Meals:  B

You've got one more glorious morning in Lunenburg, as your pickup will be scheduled for just after lunch (departing at 2pm). The shuttle is routed to head north and through the Annapolis Valley. En route, we see the wonders of the changing tides of the Bay of Fundy and will stop in the University town of Wolfville amongst the surrounding vineyards. We are scheduled to arrive back in Halifax by 6pm. Services end here, but if you are not flying out this evening, additional nights can be added upon request (in Halifax or perhaps spend a night in Wolfville). Happy travels!

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • 4 breakfasts
  • 5 nights B&B's and inns with private facilities
  • Shared shuttle service to/from trailheads
  • Sightseeing stops at Peggy's Cove and Wolfville
  • Luggage transfer service
  • Quality performance hybrid bicycle rental with helmet, lock, panniers, and basic repair kit
  • Emergency hotline
  • Information pack including route notes & maps (1 package per room)
  • GPX tracks and link to online maps and voice navigation for smartphones

What's Not Included

  • Meals where not specified
  • Entrance fees
  • Airport pickup
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
  • Unscheduled transfers requested during the trip
  • Applicable taxes

Upcoming Travel Dates


Duration:6 Days
Province/Territory:Nova Scotia
Starting Point:Halifax
Activities:Self Guided Cycling
Grade:Introductory  Click for more information
Trip Code:HAL
Prices From:USD$960
Single Supplement:USD$450 
* All prices subject to applicable taxes