The Coastal Trail follows the coast through the southwestern part of Brier Island, an area protected by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).
Built in 2012, the 4km (2.5mi) NCC trail has graveled portions and wooden planks over wet sections to help visitors enjoy the preserve. Six interpretive panels introduce the wildlife and plant life particular to Brier Island.
Difficulty: moderately challenging: a long hike with uneven terrain
Length: 4km (2.5mi) (1.5 hour) one way
Highlights: West Lighthouse, basalt coastal scenery, Brier roses and wildflowers, seagulls nesting, Pond Cove beach, Little Pond and Big Pond. It’s possible to see seals swimming in the ocean along the coast, and if you’re really lucky you might see a whale.
Getting there: The Coastal Trail can be hiked starting from either West Lighthouse or Pond Cove. At West Lighthouse, the trail begins from the road just before you get to the lighthouse (look for the interpretive panels). At Pond Cove, the trail begins at the beach. Walk along the beach, past Little Pond, and it will be clear where to pick up the trail.
A map on a panel at the beginning of the trailhead at the West Lighthouse. It shows the route of the Coastal Trail. For the remainder of this post we will assume you’re walking from the West Lighthouse towards Pond Cove.
Two interpretive panels mark the trailhead for the Coastal Trail near the West Lighthouse. You can park along the gravel road leading to the lighthouse.
The trail leads out towards the coast and Whipple Point where you’ll find plenty of noisy seagulls. Stay on the trail – if they think you’re too close to their nest, they swoop and divebomb to chase you away.
You can’t ignore the noise from this many seagulls!
A view looking back at the West Lighthouse from the Coastal Trail.
A wooden bridge has been installed by the NCC over a particularly wet area. The first part of the trail is a gravel path, then it becomes worn-down grass.
The trail through the grass looks like vehicle tracks and is easy to follow along the coast.
Just off the trail at the rocky coast you can explore the colourful basalt rocks. Look out and you might see seals or (if you’re really lucky) a whale.
Away from the rocks the trail is lush and green. Tall grasses and thickets of Brier roses grow beside the trail.
Look around and you’ll find that Brier roses aren’t the only wildflowers that grow beside the trail.
Wildflowers and grass grow right up to the grey rocks on the Coastal Trail.
The trail leads towards evergreen trees as you get closer to Big Pond, Little Pond, and Pond Cove.
As the trail goes past the trees it reaches a soft, muddy area. You’re almost at Pond Cove!
As you come out of the trees the trail turns to a pebble causeway just before Little Pond (on the left). The rocks slide over each other; take your time and be careful of twisted ankles.
The beach at Pond Cove is great for exploring the tidal flats at low tide. Sandpipers and other birds come to the beach to eat the insects, you can relax on the dry sand and watch them.
The trailhead at Pond Cove for the Coastal trail is marked by a panel. You can see the beach from the trailhead.
The map of the Coastal Trail at the Pond Cove trailhead.