The Wild Side of Town:

A Wolfville Millennium Trail Adventure

2 hr 2.6 km return Moderate

Trail Info:

This trail resembles a foot path in an English Village. The trail runs between houses and backyards at some points and emerges into wooded areas just off of the main roads. The trails are groomed and easy to walk but there are some steeper inclines and stairs as you gradually wind your way uphill from the Town of Wolfville.

Directions:

Wolfville Millennium Trail Trailhead
View in Google Maps

From Halifax take Highway 101 west to the Annapolis Valley. Take Exit 10 to merge onto the Number 1 Hwy toward Grand Pré/Wolfville. Drive 6km along the Number 1 Hwy (Main Street) into Wolfville and turn left onto Willow Ave. Park 100m just past the Tourist Bureau on the left.

Start on the lawn just behind the building.

Kings Transit provides bus drop off on Main Street near the trail head for those coming from other towns in Kings County. The schedule is here.

Trail Tools

Go Wild

Start at the bottom of the grassy hill 45 m behind the tourist bureau.

The animals of Wolfville want to invite you on an adventure into their world. The wild side of town! Can you survive as an animal in town? Can you outsmart the humans and avoid being seen? Use your animal senses to explore the paths ahead and try not to get caught!

We are the animals of this town.

Join us among the trees,

Around the houses unseen!

Our eyes are keen,

Our noses sharp,

Our ears perk up at every bark

Be sneaky, sure and smart

Ready now? Let’s start!

~ A message from the animals

1. Raccoon Tag

Stay at bottom of the hill.

Raccoons live in this town and these furry nocturnal scavengers roam the streets at night, playing and searching for food. They can make quite a racket outside your window while you sleep. Let’s wake up the humans by being rowdy raccoons!

  1. Everyone gets on hands and knees like a raccoon.
  2. One raccoon is “it” and chases the others up and down the hill trying to tag them.
  3. When you are tagged, roll over onto your back with legs and arms in the air and trill to alert your friends that you need help. The trill is made by vibrating your tongue at the back of your mouth “Trrrrrrrrrrr!”
  4. To get free, two raccoons must tag one limb each.
  5. Once you have been flipped three times you are now the tagger.

Now that you have had some raccoon fun, you are hungry. Watch out for humans and their dogs! If you see a human or dog, make the trilling noise to alert the other raccoons.

2. Hide and Sneak

Climb to the top of the hill, walk up the stairs and cross the road carefully. Pass to the right of the two parking spaces and follow the concrete path 25 m leading to the Rec Centre Building. Turn right along the wooden fence just before the building. Continue 40 along the building and past two wooden sheds. Stop at the far edge of the 2nd shed.

There may be lots of young humans here at the playground so watch out. You don’t want to be seen or caught. They might pull your fur!

  1. Sneak and peek between the buildings to spy on humans. Trill your alarm call if you see any.
  2. Quietly peek around the farthest shed.
  3. If the coast is clear, silently motion to your friends with your head and eyes that it is ok to go.
  4. Run to the nearest big tree up on the hill in front of you. Hide behind it– quick!

You are really hungry now! Dig around under leaves to find bugs and seeds to eat. How many different ones can you find?

Now it is time to get to the woods so you can find shelter for your daytime nap. When it is safe and no humans are watching, run from tree to tree along the edge of the field until you see a red fire hydrant. Run to the lone tree close to the fire hydrant beside the road. Look at this tree. What is special about it?

3. Smell like a Skunk

From the tree, carefully walk diagonally across the road to the Millennium Trail sign on the left. Walk up the trail 35 m just past the first bridge.

Does anybody smell something? Like raccoons, skunks are omnivores so they eat both meat and plants. Be skunks and make a smelly skunk stew.

  1. Working in pairs, make a smelly stew in your container.
  2. Half fill with water from the stream.
  3. Add ingredients from around the trail to make a delicious smelling stew.
  4. Name your stew and share the smell with the others.
  5. Which one was the smelliest?

On the way to the next stop, look under the leaves or dead wood for various insects a skunk would like to eat.

Do You Know – Skunks

Skunks are everywhere! They live all over North and South America, in rural areas, suburbs, and cities. You may not have seen a skunk in your neighbourhood, but you’ve probably smelled one. Their smelly spray, called musk, comes from two glands near the base of the skunk’s tail and can hit a target 3.7 meters away. Skunks are not dangerous and will only spray when they are scared. They will also give a warning before spraying. If threatened, skunks stamp their front feet, lift their tail, and growl.

When the smelly feast is finished, empty the stews off the trail for other skunks to enjoy. Stomp your feet like a skunk whenever you see humans to warn and scare them away.

4. Listen to Trees

Continue up the trail for 165 m to the fork in the path just before a pond. Turn left and walk 25 m across a bridge to a large hemlock tree in the middle of the trail.

Raccoons and skunks depend on the trees for places to hide. They realize that the trees have stories to share. See the hemlock tree on the other side of the bridge with the big hole in it. What happened here? Is it still alive? Are there any signs of it healing? Look in and around it to find clues to its past, present and possible future.

  1. Everyone stands around the tree in a circle to tell the story of this tree.
  2. One person begins the story by saying one word and each person going around the circle adds another word.
  3. Continue to add words until you have a story about the tree’s life.

Look at the other trees, dead and alive, in this woodland as you walk along. What are their stories?

Earthworks

We humans are connected to all of these creatures living around town. The wild areas behind the houses with all of their trees, shrubs, streams and wetlands work to filter polluted run-off water from driveways and roads. They are also home to so many creatures. The animals eat the plants and move seeds around to keep the forests regenerating; the wetland plants filter out toxins before the water reaches the Bay of Fundy, which protects marine life from getting sick. This is an example of our

with wild places. We can do our part for the environment by encouraging more wild spaces in our own communities and by enjoying nature.

Learn about the Earthworks

5. Look for Pond Monsters

Go into the woods to the right and walk 15 m down to the edge of the pond.

What is going on in this murky pond? Raccoons use this pond and you might be able to see their tracks in the mud around it. Their feet are like our hands, only smaller. See if you can find raccoon tracks around the pond. The pond water is brown because there are a lot of mud particles floating in it. This is due to large amounts of stormwater flowing into it when it rains. Is there anything living in the pond for the raccoon to eat? Let’s look and see.

  1. Use your plastic containers to dip out a bit of water. Try not to get the mud.
  2. Did you catch any mini-monsters? Water insects?
  3. Look for evidence of other creatures around the pond?

Earth Steps

Here are some things you can do to help keep ponds and other bodies of water safe for wildlife:

  • Conserve water at home by using low flow appliances and turning taps off when brushing teeth.
  • Use sand instead of salt on driveways and walkways in winter. Road salt hurts ponds and streams.
  • Don’t use pesticides and herbicides around your home and garden. Frogs, salamanders and fish can be hurt by these chemicals.
  • Join groups like the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) to learn more about protecting wetlands and wildlife.

6. Visit a Rodent’s Restaurant

From the edge of the pond, walk left up into the trees 40 m to the top of the hill above the pond.

Raccoons and skunks are busy at night but there are lots of town animals out in the day as well. Can you see or hear any rodents like squirrels and chipmunks scurrying about this forest? Look on the ground to see signs of Rodent Restaurants. Look for nuts, seeds, berries and insects.

  1. Split into 3 groups: one each for Red Squirrels, Grey Squirrels and Chipmunks.
  2. Crouch on the ground and put your hands out in front of you like paws.
  3. Make a sucking noise and jump high in the air.
  4. Hop around and call “chit, chit, chit, chit!”
  5. Which rodents can find 5 different kinds of nuts, seeds, berries and insects?
  6. Make a small shelter for your stash in case it rains.
  7. Leave the stash for the rodents in the woods to find and enjoy.

Take a bit of rodent ration (your own snack and drink) from your backpack, sit down in the restaurant and feast with the rodents.

Do You Know?
Animal Homes

These hemlock woods are home to red squirrels and grey squirrels and chipmunks. They are living here successfully together since they have different shelter needs. Red squirrels are about half the size of grey squirrels and chipmunks are a bit smaller than red squirrels and have stripes down their back. Grey squirrels are usually the silent, calm ones but red squirrels are very feisty and loud; scolding anyone who comes close to their food stashes. You will hear chipmunks by their loud chirping from the ground as they signal an alarm call when you get too close. Squirrels eat cones on raised areas so they can watch for predators or other squirrels. The squirrels eat only the seeds attached inside to each leaf of the cone, and the leftover cone pieces pile up. The pile is called a “midden”.

7. Call the Birds

Continue to walk through the wooded area 40 m with a stream down to your right. Descend 15 m and meet the main trail, turning right across a bridge.15 m after the bridge turn left at the Y in the path. Walk 20 m until you come to another bridge.

The birds love this little wetland with its thick ferny understory and lots of berry bushes and fruit trees. Use your scope to search for birds in the trees and bushes. Try calling some birds to you:

  1. Stand very still and do not talk.
  2. Make this sound: “psh, psh, psh.”
  3. Repeat it several times. This often attracts birds if they are nearby.

Birds use special calls to find each other. How many bird calls can you hear?

  1. Spread out 5 meters along the trail and listen for a couple of minutes.
  2. How many different bird calls do you hear? Compare your numbers.

Can you convince the others that you are a bird?

  1. Take turns making your favourite bird call that you just heard.
  2. Have everyone else close their eyes and imagine the bird that is making that call.
  3. The group scores each call out of 10 for how close it sounds to a real bird.

Using your spy scopes, continue to look and listen for birds on the trails ahead.

Do You Know – Spotted Touch-Me-Not

Spotted Touch-Me-Not, also known as Jewel Weed, is a plant that is everywhere in this wetland. Hummingbirds love their dangly, orange-spotted flowers. In August, the seed pods form and are really fun to play with since they explode when touched. Despite the name, this plant wants you to touch them so their seeds disperse far away from the parent plant. Try them!

8. Road Danger!

Continue along the path 50 m to a set of steps.

At the top of these stairs is a road hazard. Animals don’t need or want roads. They are very dangerous places since roads cross animal territories and habitats creating obstacles to them getting the things they need to survive, like food and water.

  1. Be a wild deer, perk up your ears to listen for cars on the road above. Use your hands to cup you ears to make them big like deer ears.
  2. If you don’t hear any cars, quietly signal to your herd that it is safe and cautiously walk up the stairs.
  3. At the road, look for cars and quickly walk across and down the other set of steps.

Phew! We are safe across the road and down the stairs.


Netukulimk

This upper part of this trail looks out over what were once the great salt marshes of the Minas Basin, which were later transformed by the Acadians through dyking to enable rich agricultural land.33 These marshes covered more than 1000 hectares and were a rich source of food for the Mi’kmaq— fish, birds, shellfish and sea mammals. There are at least 60 archeological sites in this part of Kings County providing evidence of Mi’kmaw presence. When the French missionaries and fur traders arrived in the late 1500s, they quickly became allies with the Mi’kmaq and a mutually beneficial and respectful relationship developed between the cultures. It is noteworthy that the Acadians transformed an enormous acreage with their dykes but there is no evidence of conflict over this with the Mi’kmaq. They had social exchanges and intermarriages. Some Mi’kmaq hid Acadians during their Expulsion by the British. Today many Mi’kmaq and Acadians celebrate this relationship, one example being shared cultural festivities at the Grand Pré National Historic Site. Learn more about Grand Pré and visit a unique UNESCO world heritage site.

Learn about Netukulimk

9. Watch Out!

Read the instructions below at the bottom of the stairs on the far side of the road. Then leap along the trail for 90 m until the trail turns left at a large knobby tree trunk on the left and flattens out. Stop here.

Deer are swift and can leap and outrun most predators such as coyotes. You are thirsty now and we have a long trail ahead to get to the watering hole.

  1. Be a deer as you leap and prance up the trail ahead.
  2. Put finger antlers on your head.
  3. Shake your white tail.
  4. Wiggle your nose and sniff for danger. Let’s go quickly!

Work together as a herd to avoid predators on your way up the trail. Deer are really good at avoiding predators with their keen sense of hearing and smell. Cup your hands up to your ears and listen. When you see or hear a threat make a distress call to warn the others and freeze.

  1. The alarm call sounds like when you blow a “raspberry” really loud! Close your teeth tight with your lips loose. Blow out fast and hard and make the “Pprrrrrrrp” alarm call.
  2. Freeze when you hear a deer alarm call.
  3. What signal do deer make to signal that all is safe? Make up a signal to tell your herd that the coast is clear to start moving again.
  4. Once all of the threats are clear, make the “All Clear” signal and continue to bound up the trail .

Leap like a deer along the trail to a large knobby tree trunk on the left where the trail flattens out.

10. Find a Place to Rest

At the knobby tree trunk, read the instructions below. then move 150 m up the trail as you do the activity. After 100 m pass two houses on the left with a long evergreen hedge between you and the 2nd house. The trail bends right after the hedge and shortly thereafter is a small path down to the left into a field. Go down into the field.

All the prancing has tired the deer out. You need places to rest for a short time where you are camouflaged and hidden. See if you can avoid being spotted while continuing up the trail:

  • One deer goes ahead just out of sight and hides within view of the trail (go no more than 50 m at a time).
  • Everyone else slowly moves forward trying to spot them.
  • The person hiding must be able to see the trail from their spot without moving.
  • If the group cannot find the deer who is hiding, give a deer call and the person comes out.
  • Give everyone a turn hiding while moving up the trail.

There are other great nature trails to explore in Wolfville. The Reservoir Park has walking and bike trails that go into a steep ravine while Acadia University has lovely Botanical Gardens and Woodland Trails.

11. Avoid Capture

In the field that overlooks the Minas Basin.

This is a good place to feed on grass. Be alert since this is a popular place for predators to sneak up on prey while you are eating. You’ll be lunch if a coyote, bobcat or lynx sneaks up on you. Here is how to test your listening skills.

  1. One person is the deer and everyone else are coyotes.
  2. The coyotes line up across the edge of the field.
  3. The deer takes 20 giant leaps, facing away from the coyotes.
  4. When the deer says “go”, the coyotes sneak up through the field.
  5. When the deer senses someone moving they turn around quickly. The coyote must freeze.
  6. Coyotes caught moving are out.
  7. The game ends when all of the coyotes are caught, or when a coyote reaches the deer.
  8. Take turns being the deer.

Do You Know?
The Acadian Dykes

From here you can look out over the Minas Basin tidal zone. Over 70 years, beginning in the 1600s, the Acadians transformed this enormous expanse of salt marsh meadow (Grand Pré translates as ‘great or large meadow’) into rich farmland by dyking the edges.33 The enormous earthen mounds, or dykes, were built slowly by hand to block the entry of salt water onto the marshes. A sluiceway was dug under the dyke along the path of the original brook or stream such that the water draining off the land flowed under the dyke mounds at low tide. When the tides rose, the sluiceway was closed to prevent the salt water from intruding onto the farmland. The Acadians used marsh grass to cover the earthen mounds because it was tough and able to prevent erosion by the powerful tides. Over a couple of years, rain washed the salt from the soils, leaving rich farmland with soils composed of thousands of years of decomposed organic marsh material. These dykes are still in use today, though they are under threat by the rising sea levels due to climate change.

12. Stay Wild

Return up to the main path, turn left and continue up 40 m to a set of stairs. Go up the stairs and turn left in and follow along 50 m to the end of the pond where a trail joins from the left. Continue straight about 30 m along the 2nd pond and stop.

Now that you have experience avoiding humans and predators, finding food and having fun, the animals have a final challenge for you. This will help you get to know each other better.

  1. Everyone find a comfortable spot on the bank of the pond to your right, 5 or so meters from each other.
  2. Sit so you can be comfortable and still for 10 minutes.
  3. Close your eyes and listen quietly.
  4. Imagine that the animals in the forest are as curious about you as you are about them.
  5. They will come close and observe you if you are still and quiet.
  6. The longer you are still, the closer they will come.
  7. Draw in your Adventure Journal if you choose.

Afterwards, as a group, share what you saw, heard and felt as you sat silently.

Time to return home back down the trail. As you return, try to find the mystery plaque and creature. Hint: It is back near the edge of the 1st pond from a place where there is a beautiful view of Blomidon. It is under something made by humans. Make a rubbing of the mystery creature on the plaque in your Adventure Journal with the side of your pencil.

The plaque symbol is:

o

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Earth Steps

To let the animals in your neighbourhood get to know you, find a wild corner in your back yard or natural area. It could be under a tree or bush, tall grass, behind a boulder; any place that is a bit hidden will work. Make this your very own Magic Spot! Sit here for a few minutes every day or so and see if you can stay 1 minute longer every day. You could…

  • make a shelter at your spot
  • decorate it as you like
  • draw in your adventure journal there
  • watch for wildlife
  • discover insects on the ground

This is a great activity for all ages. Have fun and enjoy the Wild Places near you!

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