New trails developed at VanTassel Lake

Published on March 8, 2017

Sean Merrett leads the Fundy Erratics hikers around VanTassel Lake and showing them beaver habitats.

©Greg Turner

DIGBY, NS - There is a newly cut set of trails at VanTassel Lake for hiking fans to check out.

Sean Merrett, chairperson of the VanTassel Lake Trail Association, began scouting the trails with fellow member Mark Durkee in Nov. 2015.

The association was incorporated in Dec. 2015, partially due to the potential offered by these new trails, says Merrett, who brought the trails to the group’s attention.

Durkee then began the trail cutting by flagging spots with potential, and then cut the trails to link them together. He continued, and has been responsible for the near entirety of the trails.

He says he’s excited for people to see the variety of what the trails offer. It currently runs mostly through the forest and features the following elements:

        ·      Ruins of old foundations;

        ·      some stone mill ruins;

        ·      a lookoff;

        ·      a creek, lake and waterfall;

        ·      access roads for easier hiking;

        ·      scatterings of yellow birch trees and skunk cabbage;

        ·      signs of beaver and other wildlife activity; and

        ·      sightings of grey jays, which Fundy Erratics hiker Greg Turner says is rare in this area.

The trail will also eventually move to a higher point where the Lookoff – one of its main destination points – looks down to the reservoir.

“The trail goes from surrounding a lake, to the middle of the woods, to showing hardwood and softwood trees. People will really enjoy it,” says Durkee.

Fundy Erratics hikers walk through a wooded area on the VanTassel trails.

©Greg Turner

The whole property covers 550 acres of trails, and the group has many plans for creating more trails throughout it. The north side of the lake will be the next area where trails are developed. A trail completing a circle around the entire lake will also soon be completed.

When hiking the new trails, Merrett says to come prepared with proper footwear and have a rough idea of where they want to go. The trails will be marked once the ground thaws with proper trail markers, which were made with the help of St. Mary’s Bay Academy students, where Merrett teaches.

He’s most excited about “having an area that’s close to town and easily accessible for people to get to and have something to get outside.”

“There’s really something for everyone there.”

Association member Saskia Geerts says “it’s a perfect place for people that may only have an hour a day to get outside and get active.”

Association members are still searching for a rumoured graveyard that may exist on the property, and are investigating new leads on it.

A Fundy Erratics hike will take place Mar. 11 on the new trails. The group has previously hiked the area many times, including during last year’s Nova Scotia Hike Summit, which was hosted in Digby and featured the VanTassel trails among several different hikes.