Wild Party:

A Timberlea Adventure

2hrs 2.4 km return Moderate

Trail Info:

The trail is an abandoned railway with a wide, flat, hard-packed surface. It is excellent for biking and extends beyond this small section from Lakeside Industrial Park for 9.25 km to Hubley. This is a multi-use trail, watch out for cyclists or ATVers.

This trail is accessible for wheelchairs and strollers with a smooth cinder surface but there are several activity stops where the accessible activity option is to stay on the trail and adapt an activity rather than going down off the main trail on side paths (adaptation instructions are provided).

Directions:

Timberlea Trailhead
View in Google Maps

From Halifax, take Highway 103 and get off at Exit 3. Turn right and go 1.5 km to Route 3. Turn left and go about 1.5 km to Brentwood Avenue. Turn left here and park immediately. Halifax Transit goes to the trailhead. Enter 2215 St Margarets Bay Rd here for routes and times. The trail entrance is across the St. Margaret’s Bay Road (Route 3) from Brentwood Ave. You walk on the trail towards Halifax.

Trail Tools

Hey Party Animal!

Walk to the wooden bridge near the trailhead with your back to the road.

Do you like birthday parties? Remember your favourite one. Today you’re invited to a “wild” party for Mother Nature! But you have to go as a wild creature. Disguise yourself as a weasel like the one that lives nearby and visit other creatures along the way. Get ideas from them for your gift. Help them out by presenting their gifts to Mother Nature as some can’t get off from their work.

1. Walk like a Weasel

Stay on the bridge.

Weasels are very fast, can swim and can hide well. Move like a weasel.

  1. Crouch down on your four “legs” on the bridge.
  2. Shoot your front legs (arms) out in front and pull your back legs up to you.
  3. Do this over and over quickly.

Do You Know – Weasels

A weasel is a small, furry nighttime hunter. It eats mice, birds, fish, frogs, insects and rabbits. It uses a good sense of smell, keen eyesight and sharp claws to capture its prey. Also called ermines, weasels are brown for most of the year but turn white in winter, except for the black tip on their tails. They have a scent called musk that is said to be stronger than a skunk’s smell. Weasel predators include cats, foxes and hunting birds such as hawks and owls. Their main enemy is people who kill them for their fur or because they raid animal farms.

Weasels are very curious creatures with sharp eyes. Use your eyes around the bridge to spot:

  • an arch of stone
  • a spider web
  • a round stone
  • a flying or crawling insect
  • a tiny tree
  • which way the water is flowing under the bridge

An arch in the stone bridge gives strength to the bridge. The spider first came up with this idea. The rounded shape of a spider web helps give it strength.

Further Exploring

About one km down the trail from the bridge (going east towards Hubley after crossing the highway) is the site of the old Fraser Mill, located near St. Andrew’s Anglican Church. Closed in the late 1960s, it was the last water-run sawmill to be shut down in Nova Scotia.

2. Discover Wee Wild Gardens

Walk 60 m and see a signpost 15 m ahead of you. At this point take a small path down to the left just before the Max 20 km speed limit sign. Stay to the left on this trail for about 15 m to the large dead tree. Stop here. [If the path is not accessible for you, do the activity just off the main trail.]

Weasels enjoy discovering wee wild gardens in the forest with their sharp eyes. Search for your wee wild garden without stepping on mossy areas because these can be fragile wild gardens.

  1. Find a special moss-covered stump, log or rock with neat wee features on it.
  2. Place your string tool around the garden, creating a boundary.
  3. Use your third eye to explore the wee features.
  4. Use your garden flags to mark neat spots for insects or other wee tourists.
  5. Name your wee garden. Be careful not to destroy plants as you create your wild garden.

Do a group tour of each garden. The garden’s creator and tour guide collects admission (a neat dead leaf), announces the garden’s name and describes all of the flagged spots. Make sure it’s a no-trace garden. Pack up the boundary and flags.

The tall spruce trees nearby are part of the giant wild garden that is the forest. Read its gift note to Mother Nature:

Dear Mother Nature,

Cones are my gift to you. They provide food for creatures and grow into new trees that protect the forest.

~ The Spruce Tree

Find two spruce cones without stepping on mossy spots. Place one cone in your gift box to represent the tree’s gift to Mother Nature. Plant the other in a moist spot.

Weasels don’t linger on open trails for fear of predators. Once you return to the main trail, run to the next stop, while zigzagging across the trail.

3. Spot Sneaky Squirrels

Return to the main trail and go 105 m. Take the stairs on the left across from a power pole. Go 25 m to a clearing at the river’s edge. [If the path is not accessible for you, do the activity on the main trail.]

Weasels are quick and have good eyes to help them catch their prey, such as squirrels. Squirrels can stay very still and blend in to hide. Test your weasel hunting skills:

  1. Choose a weasel and everyone else is a squirrel.
  2. The weasel stands at least three metres away from the squirrels.
  3. The weasel turns away while the squirrels get into a neat squirrel position.
  4. The weasel turns around unexpectedly and tries to catch a squirrel moving.
  5. Each time the weasel turns away, the squirrels must change position.
  6. The first squirrel caught moving trades places with the weasel.

Squirrels provide a gift for Mother Nature too. Here’s the gift tag:

Dear Mother Nature,

My gift to you is scattering and planting seeds as I store and eat my food.

~The Squirrel

Search nearby for shredded cones a squirrel left behind after eating. Place a couple of pieces in your gift box to represent the squirrel’s gift to Mother Nature.

Do You Know?

Look to the left of the clearing for a tall tree that has been peeled of bark all around its trunk. This tree died because someone carelessly cut it. The tubes that carry water and nutrients up and down the tree are on the outside of the trunk. The tree is weakened if a part of the bark is removed. If an entire ring of bark is removed, the tree dies.

4. Prowl like a Weasel

Follow the river about 20 m upstream as you prowl. [If you are still on the main trail, see the accessible activity box below.]

Be a curious weasel and prowl this area for neat living things. Can you find…

  • a big hemlock tree across the river
  • a tree or log with insect holes
  • a tree with white bark growing out of a stump
  • trees with long roots like tentacles
  • a small rock cave
  • a squirrel river-crossing
  • an old tree providing a home
  • proof that a tree was more than 25 years old here (count the rings)

Search for a tree that has fungi on it. Use your third eye to examine the fungi. What are the fungi’s gifts to Mother Nature?

Accessible Activity

If you did not go down to the stream, do a scavenger hunt on the main trail. Look for…

  • Birchbark
  • 4 different types of leaves
  • An anthill
  • A face on a tree
  • Sap running down a tree (places where a tree is healing from having its branch cut off

Earth Steps

Here are some ways to reduce your impact on the forest when you go bike riding or hiking:

  • Avoid climbing younger trees or hanging off their branches, as this can weaken or damage them.
  • Stay on the trail with bikes, as they damage plants and compact the soil in other places.
  • Be careful where you step, as your feet can crush natural treasures as well.

5. Look Underwater

Go back along the edge of the river to the clearing. [If you are still on the main trail, see the accessible activity box below.]

The weasel can sometimes catch creatures in the stream to eat. Can you find any water creatures? Search with your underwater viewer:

  1. Crouch or lie down at the stream’s edge.
  2. Push the covered end of the water viewer into the water.
  3. Don’t push it in so far that water comes over the top edge.
  4. Put your head on the top of the viewer and peer underwater.

Draw the neatest creature you spot in your Adventure Journal. Here’s what one set of river creatures, the water beetles, are giving Mother Nature:

Dear Mother Nature,

Our gift to you is our work to eat up bits of dead stuff floating in the river.

~ The Water Beetles

Fill your bottle with stream water representing the beetles’ gift. Place it in your box.

Accessible Activity

On the main trail…

Weasels are always hungry and small birds are tasty. They are always on the lookout for them in the branches above. It’s like they have 2 eyes looking forward and a third one looking up. Practice with your sky eye and see what’s neat above.

• Pick a spot with branches overhead. Hold your sky eye mirror in the palm of your hand at your chest and look down into it to see what is above.
• Move slowly along the side of the trail to see how things change.
• Stop, find one neat thing each and then explain how others can find it without anyone looking up from your sky eye

6. Trade Gifts with the Plants

Return to the main trail. Go about 100 m until you can just see metal gates down the trail.

Plants give weasels and other animals the gift of making oxygen that they use to breathe.

  1. Choose a bush beside the trail.
  2. Take a deep breath near it and hold it for five seconds.
  3. Breathe out on the leaves.

Trees use the carbon dioxide that weasels and other animals breathe out. They take it in through tiny holes under their leaves. Use your third eye to search for the tiny holes (but don’t pick the leaf).

As you walk to the intersection, collect neat leaves off the ground.

  1. Try to find at least eight different leaves.
  2. Display your leaves at the two big boulders just before the trail intersection.
  3. Trade leaves with others to improve your collection.

Dear Mother Nature,

My gift is my work to clean the air. I take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen for creatures to breathe.

~The Bush

Place your leaf collection in your gift box. Do your zigzag weasel run to the next stop.

Earthworks

Every creature has a special job to do in its home that helps other creatures live. Spiders control insect numbers. Spruce trees provide food and shelter to other creatures. Water beetles clean dead stuff from the water. Squirrels transport seeds. Worms recycle the soil. Together, all these creatures do their work and get what they need to live at the same time. These creatures live and work in a

Learn about the Earthworks

7. Take a Like’n to Lichen

From the intersection, go 160 m and stop at a stone wall supporting the hill on the right.

This stone wall is where the weasel lives along with many other plants and animals. Look for gray or whitish flaky stuff on the surface of the wall. This is lichen, one of the few things that can grow on bare rock. Examine the lichen closely with your third eye. How many different kinds can you find? What does it feel like?

Look for the spot where the soil built up enough for a tree to grow out of a rock. Lichen started the soil-making process here long ago using acid from its roots.

Here’s what the lichen is giving Mother Nature:

Dear Mother Nature,

My gift to you is to work to break down the surface of rocks and create the beginnings of soil.

~ The Lichen

Place a small rock in your box to represent the lichen’s gift.

Continue along the stone wall and search for possible weasel holes. Which one would you like to live in as a weasel?

Do You Know?

Weasels make their dens underground in holes and between rocks. The den often has three or four tunnels leading to it. They may take over the dens of the creatures they eat. A weasel has been seen near this wall.

8. Go to the Races

From the natural rock wall go 180 m to the next trail intersection. Continue another 125 m to a small bridge on the trail.

Weasels love to play. Try this game16.

  1. Each person finds a small stick no longer than a hand and ties a piece of dead grass around it.
  2. Drop them all in the water on the upstream side of the bridge at the same time.
  3. Watch to see which stick comes out first on the other side.

This game can help worms and other bugs along the edge of the stream. They rely on the dead materials that wash up for their food. They are providing a gift to Mother Nature at the same time:

Dear Mother Nature,

My gift to you is my recycling work. I eat dead plant matter, process it in my stomach and leave poop (castings) behind to nourish the soil.

~ The worms and bugs

Place a dead plant no bigger than your finger in your gift box.

9. Have a Party

Go 180 m and stop on the left by two benches with a small waterfall behind them.

It’s almost time for the party. You’ll need some colourful decorations. Find something nearby no bigger than your hand (rock, dead leaf, small stick, etc.) for each colour:

  • blue
  • brown
  • green
  • red
  • yellow
  • pink
  • orange
  • purple

Arrange your decorations on the benches. Then make a party noisemaker. Look for a wide piece of grass and sandwich it flatly between the sides of your thumbs with a small space between them. Blow into this space to create a neat sound. It takes practice!

You’ve collected gifts from the creatures. But what is your gift? Choose one suggestion below or make up your own and write it in your Adventure Journal.

  • Pick up garbage as I walk back.
  • Buy nothing today (to keep from wasting resources).
  • Turn off all lights and appliances that I am not using at home (to save energy).

Present the creatures’ gifts to Mother Nature at the base of the waterfall:

  1. Face the waterfall and place the gifts in a special pattern at the edge of the water.
  2. For each gift, say what it represents and which creature gave it.

Enjoy your party snack!

Take a picture close up of the small waterfall by sneaking up to it and finding something cool. Be creative.

Your final challenge is to find the plaque with the mystery creature on it. look on something made by humans nearby. Make a rubbing of the plaque in your Adventure Journal with the side of your pencil.

For a bit more exploring, head down the little side path across from the benches and look for bugs and insects in the water. If you turn over any rocks, put them back when you are done. Little creatures live under them.

To find out more about this trail system or to get involved with the Beechville/Lakeside/Timberlea Rails to Trails Association.

What gift does the weasel give to Mother Nature? Use your curious weasel skills one last time and find the plaque hidden underneath something nearby. Use the side of your pencil or crayon to make a rubbing of it.

The plaque symbol is:

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Tap share and then "Add to Homescreen".