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Islands Consolidated School students help get Balancing Rock trail in Digby County ready for the season


TIVERTON, DIGBY COUNTY, N.S. – Students from the Islands Consolidated School (ICS) have helped get the Balancing Rock trail ready for the summer hiking season.

Balancing Rock is a major tourism draw for the Digby area and students from ICS usually spend at least one day every spring grooming the trail.

“The students are a great help,” says Jonathan Riley, trails and open space co-ordinator with the Municipality of the District of Digby. “There’s always a good long list of spring cleaning tasks – we just divide that up and it’s amazing what they can get done in a day.”

The Islands students spent Friday, May 25, outdoors and working at Balancing Rock. They cleaned up garbage from around the parking lot and along the trail, removed branches and leaves from the trails and swept the steps and stairs clean. They reburied a culvert that was sticking up, re-attached two interpretive signs and pruned back brush from the sides of the path.

They also carried in lumber for repairs and tore up the oldest section of the wooden steps.

That section has been patched and repatched over the past few years, says Riley, and was due for full replacement. Some temporary replacement steps have been added and one stretch, on a flat section of trail, has been left for now with no steps.

“The signs and brochures all say 235 steps – to be honest there were actually 238,” says Riley. “But for now, it’s probably closer to 220.”

Balancing Rock is a 20-foot-high finger of basalt on the rocky shore of Long Island in Digby County.

Originally, locals visited the site by shimmying down ropes hung over the cliff. Today, a 1.7-kilometre gravelled path and boardwalk leads visitors through woods and bogs to the steep southern shore of the island.

At the end of the trail, a series of wooden steps provide access to a cliffside viewing platform overlooking the rock and providing a spectacular view of St. Mary’s Bay.

“Thousands of visitors walk this trail every year and it’s important we keep the trail safe and attractive,” says Riley. “The students’ work will go a long way to making a good impression on all those visitors – and hopefully too, anytime you get youth working on a trail, you increase their engagement, their connection, they get a sense of ownership and pride in their community.”

(SUBMITTED BY JONATHAN RILEY)


Balancing Rock overlooking St. Mary's Bay defies the imagination. ADAM CORNICK
Balancing Rock overlooking St. Mary's Bay defies the imagination. ADAM CORNICK

About Balancing Rock....

You have to see it to believe it: 20 tonnes or more of volcanic rock, balanced precariously on a ledge above the waves of St. Mary’s Bay.

Balancing Rock is a 20-foot-high finger of basalt that defies the imagination. This natural wonder on the rocky shore of Long Island in Digby County has been boggling people’s minds for years.

Originally, locals visited the site by shimmying down ropes hung over the rocky cliff. Today, a 1.7-kilometre gravelled path and boardwalk leads visitors through woods and bogs to the steep southern shore of the island.

At the end of the trail, a series of wooden steps provide access to a cliffside viewing platform overlooking the rock and offer a spectacular view of St. Mary’s Bay.

Several benches located along the trail, beside the stairway and at the viewing platform, offer comfy places to rest or enjoy a trailside picnic.

Interpretative panels along the way explain the geology that formed the Balancing Rock, but also describe the flora and fauna along the trail.

The parking lot just off Highway 217 outside Tiverton has two outhouses and picnic tables.

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