Hidden Message:

A Crowbar Lake Adventure

2 hr 30 min 2 km return Challenging

Trail Info:

This is a beautiful wilderness trail loop. The trail climbs through mixed forest and skirts a small pond. It is rocky with roots. Good footwear is important. The first half of the trail is uphill and the 2nd half returns back down.


Crowbar Lake Trailhead
View in Google Maps

From Highway 107, take Exit 19. Travel north about 1.3 km to Highway #7 at the community of Porters Lake. Turn left (west) on Highway #7, then almost immediately, turn right onto Myra Road. Travel north on Myra Road. After about 8.5 km, watch for the trailhead sign and parking lot on the left (west) side. The trailhead is roughly 30 km from downtown Dartmouth.

Trail Tools

  • Letters (one set for the group)
  • Frame tool (instructions)
  • Music sheet
  • Third eye (magnifying lens)
  • Vision blocker (bandanna/cloth for a blindfold)
  • Letter locker (margarine container with lid for the group)
  • Adventure Journal

Become a Rollad!

Go 100 m up the trail and stop where it levels off just before a steep uphill stretch. Looking uphill from here you can see a 5 m tall towering boulder with 2 small spruce trees growing on top of it.

Rollads are curious fun-loving creatures that use all of their senses to explore in nature. They are alphabetophiles. That means they love letters. To reach Rolladhood and receive a Degree of Letters, all young Rollads must use their senses to unscramble nature’s hidden message.23 Do you have what it takes to earn your degree and become an adult Rollad?

  1. Do the Rollad call, a high-pitched sound that goes “Roll-ad, Roll-ad, Roll-ad.”
  2. Roll on the ground when you are excited. On wet days, spin instead of roll.
  3. Say hello to each other by patting each other on the head.

1. Look at Things Upside Down

Stay here.

Rollads like to look at things upside down using their big, bulging eyes. To help your eyes focus, make binoculars out of your fists and look through them as you assume the upside-down position:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend over at the waist.
  3. Look at things upside down from between your legs.

You earn a letter at each stop by finding things that have something to do with the letter you are to receive. At the very end you can arrange the letters to unscramble the hidden message.

Using the upside-down position, earn your 1st letter by finding things that are:

  • colourful
  • crumbly
  • crooked
  • circular

When you find each item, share it with someone else. Which letter did you earn? [Hint: the words above have something in common.] Take this letter from the letter locker and put it safely in a pocket. You are excited about earning your first letter. Roll over on the ground three times.

Look for more C words in nature as you walk to the next stop.

2. Nature’s Song

Continue 200 m. to where the trail flattens out and then as you go downhill there is a giant boulder (5 m high) to the left. Turn off the trail behind the boulder and find a small sitting area.

Rollads sit here to listen to nature’s music.24 Can you write a Rollad song on your music sheets?

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit.
  2. Sit perfectly quiet for three minutes.
  3. Listen for all the different instruments in nature.
  4. Draw your own symbols on your music sheet for each sound (draw a bird for a bird song).
  5. At the end, take turns describing your symbols and favourite sounds.

Earn a letter by carefully looking around for things that are:

  • sweet-sounding
  • soft
  • slippery
  • sharp

Share each discovery and take the proper letter.


What would happen if this forest had only red spruce trees in it? It would be an inviting target for diseases or insects that feed off red spruce. They could quickly destroy the forest. If the forest had many different kinds of trees, one species might die, but others would survive and maintain the forest. This trail has different habitats like the forest and pond, which allow even more species to live in the same general area. If one type of life disappears, others can fill the gap. Tree plantations and large-scale monoculture are more unstable and prone to pests because they lack this

Learn about the Earthworks

3. Make a Telescope with Your Fist

Continue 100 m to a trail junction, passing a small pond. Turn right at the junction and go 120 m uphill to a series of rock stepping stones that cross over a small trickle of water on the side hill. Stop just past the rocks where the trail divides briefly.

Rollads focus in on things by using a telescope. Make a telescope with your fist. Find things that are:

  • orange
  • odorous
  • old
  • oval

Share each discovery and take the proper letter.

Rollads have large noses to help them smell cool things. Try some Rollad sniffing:

  1. Get down on your hands and knees.
  2. Scratch and sniff trees, dead leaves, plants and other neat things.
  3. Signal an interesting smell with a Rollad call: “Roll-ad, Roll-ad.”
  4. When you hear a call, do a Rollad greeting and sniff what they found.
  5. Find at least five neat smells to share.

Gather in a circle and have each Rollad describe their favourite and most yucky smells.

4. Hug a Huge Tree

Continue 135 m until you see through the trees a giant boulder (5 m tall) on the left up the hill. At this point there is a small trail to the right leading to a giant fallen and broken off pine tree with an enormous, tall, dead trunk. Go up to the trunk.

Rollads love trees and give them hugs with their extra long arms. Hug the huge dead tree stump to thank it for everything it does for other creatures like providing homes, cleaning the air and ultimately decomposing to make new soil. Earn a letter by finding things around the tree that are:

  • dead
  • dry
  • delicate
  • dirty

Share each discovery and take the proper letter.

Now return to the main trail and head up to the big pine tree on the left of the trail, just past the giant boulder. This pine tree is a child of the dead pine you hugged below. See if you can spot any other children of the old pine in the area.


The massive boulders on this trail are frequently used as navigational markers for stops. The major transportation routes for the Mi’kmaq were waterways and large rocks and rock formations along the way were used as guideposts.1 p 43-44 They were respectfully honoured as Grandmother or Grandfather Rocks and they were associated with various legends such as Kluscap turning his Grandmother or Grandfather into stone. These Grandmothers and Grandfathers looked out for the people by helping them to find their way. Travelers would provide offerings to them as they passed by, such as tobacco and punk (soft crumbly wood that has been attacked by fungus). This was but one intimate connection between the Mi’kmaq and the lands they inhabited that still carries through to this day.

Learn about Netukulimk

5. Faces in the Forest

Continue 140 m to a flat spot along the trail where the forest floor is more open. There is an old pine tree on the left edge of the trail.

Rollads have keen eyesight and are good at picking out details. Try this sharp-eyed challenge:

1) Find several different kinds of needle trees.

2) Look at the length and shape of each needle.

3) Look at how they are positioned on the stem.

4) Feel and smell each one.

Differing needles and cones

Rollads see every tree as unique and can even see faces in their trunks. Can you find a face in a tree nearby? Use your frame tool to help.Hold it at arm’s length and look through it at the tree trunk. Find these faces as you walk to the next stop:

• Happy
• Angry
• Scared
• Sleepy
• Sad
• Scary
• Silly

Do You Know?

Biodiversity is an important idea. Bio means “life” and diversity means “many different things.” So biodiversity refers to all the different living things on earth. There are so many species on earth that we haven’t been able to count them all. Since human impacts on nature have increased dramatically in the last 150 years, biodiversity has been greatly reduced. Many plants and animals are extinct or threatened due to over-hunting, pollution and habitat destruction. The Eastern Mountain Cougar is one creature that has been eliminated from these forests due to human activities.

6. Spot a View

Continue 135 m to a trail junction. Turn left and go 20 m onto a series of flat rock ledges with a view to the east. Stop at the prettiest view (the middle ledge).

Rollads aren’t very tall, so they often stand in high places to get a bird’s-eye view of things. Stand in a spot with a view. Find things that are:

  • easy to stand on
  • eroded
  • egg-shaped
  • empty

Share each discovery and take the proper letter. You love the view. Do a Rollad call three times.

Earth Steps

Here are some things you can do to help protect biodiversity near home:

  • Put up a bat house, birdhouse or birdbath.
  • Plant a butterfly garden.
  • Visit the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s web site for more ideas on making your backyard wildlife-friendly.

7. Look Up for Letters

Continue along the ledge on the trail and go 210 m. Stop on a gradual uphill where there is a large old spruce tree on the left side of the trail and a four trunked birch tree about 5 m to the right.

Rollads are always looking for letters in nature. Search for them in this big old Alphabet spruce tree.9

  1. Lie down on your back and look up in its branches.
  2. Take a deep breath and open your eyes wide.
  3. Search for as many different letters as you can.
  4. Find the first letter in your name.
  5. Show others when you find a letter.

Earn a letter by crawling around to find things that are:

  • icky
  • inhabited
  • insect homes
  • injured

Share each discovery and take the proper letter. Look for more letters in the trees on the way to the next stop.

8. Discover Small Worlds

Continue along the path 120 m until there are two giant boulders next to each other on the left of the trail on a downhill section through a mossy area. The boulder closest to the trail has ferns growing on top. No one should climb on the boulders as it will destroy the beautiful plant life.

Rollads like to look at small things, like the cool things growing on the sides of the boulders. Use your third eye and earn a letter by finding things that are:

  • violet
  • vigorous
  • vibrant green
  • very flaky

Share your discoveries and take the proper letter.

Count the number of different things growing on one boulder. Can you find more than four? If so, roll on the ground as an excited Rollad.

Look for more hard-to-see places along the trail. Rollads are good at finding hidden animal homes. As you go, search for:

  • holes in the ground and in trees
  • little caves under rocks


The giant boulders on this trail are erratics: rocks and stones that were transported long distances over the landscape and “dropped” by glaciers after the glacier melted.

9. Spin Slowly in a Circle

Walk 210 m to a moss-covered boulder (1.5 m tall) on the left edge of the trail. Porters Lake is visible through the trees.

Rollads have a neat way of seeing in all directions. They spin slowly in a circle as they look all around. Earn a letter by finding things while you spin that are:

  • round
  • red
  • rough
  • rusting

Share each discovery and take the proper letter.

Rollads like to imitate another friend of theirs, the slug. Slugs have poor eyesight. Instead they “see” things by touching them with their antennas. Try being a slug:

  1. Get on your hands and knees and put your vision blocker on.
  2. Have an adult keep watch for safety.
  3. Very slowly crawl uphill.
  4. Use your antennae (hands) to feel things in front of you.
  5. Move as slow as a slug so you don’t miss the neat touches.

What were some neat things you felt?

Do a touch scavenger hunt as you walk to the next stop. Find something for each touch word:

  • Wet
  • Dry
  • Rough
  • Smooth
  • Soft
  • Hard
  • Round
  • Flat
  • Dull
  • Sharp
  • Fuzzy
  • Prickly

Do You Know – Blueberries

In mid-summer there are lots of blueberries along this next section of trail in the open areas. Bears, birds and other wild creatures love them. Mi’kmaq have long used blueberries for food and medicinal purposes. It is the provincial berry of Nova Scotia. There are also darker blue berries in clusters of three on a long stalk coming out of a lily plant with three long leaves. This is Blue Bead Lilly (Clintonia), a common woodland plant. Don’t eat these “blue” berries.

10. Lie on Your Belly

Walk 270 m to the trail junction and turn right. Go 55 m to the bench at the small pond. Don’t leave the boardwalk. On the way, at about 200 m, see if you can find the sweet grass on the edge of the trail.

On your way to the pond, before the trail junction, look for sweet fern, a very important plant for the Mi’kmaq. Try smelling it if you find it!

Once you are at the pond, realize that Rollads like to look for neat things near the water. Lie on the boardwalk and look down off it for things that are:

  • yellow
  • young
  • yucky
  • your favourite sound

Share each discovery and take the proper letter. You’ve earned your last letter. What do they all mean?

Place the 9 letters on the boardwalk and unscramble them:

Congratulations, you have earned your Degree of Letters by discovering the Rollad’s most important skill! Use this skill to explore other natural areas with all of your senses.

Celebrate by doing the Rollad greeting with the person next to you.

What letters are left over in your letter locker? Unscramble them for a clue to finding the hidden plaque with the mystery creature on it:

Use your pencil or crayon to make a rubbing of it below.

Right behind the bench are ferocious insect eating plants… called Pitcher plants. Do not touch them, just look!

Pitcher plant in red

Do You Know…
Pitcher Plants

Pitcher plants are flesh-eating plants with leaves that are funnels and form toxic death pits for insects. The coloured leaves and sweet smell attract insects. Once the insects step over the lip of the funnel, tiny hairs make it hard for them to climb out. Deeper inside, the surface of the leaf becomes so smooth that the bugs can’t hold on. They fall into the pool of rainwater below. The plant then releases acid into the pool and slowly digests the insect in the same way that acids in our stomachs digest food.

Take and upload your best picture from somewhere on the boardwalk. Be creative, look up, look down and use your sense of discovery.

The plaque symbol is:



Please login if you would like to record your trail completion, provide feedback or upload photos to the trail gallery.

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Return back to the parking lot, retracing your original route.

This is only a small portion of the Crowbar Lake Trail system. Check out the full system with 18 km of trails. This is part of the 8700 hectare Waverly – Salmon River Long Lake Wilderness Area. The Nova Scotia government has in recent years met a minimum international target of protecting 12% of Nova Scotia lands. Learn more about our protected areas.

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Tap share and then "Add to Homescreen".