Waypoints

Waypoint #1 Martins River Bridge

Features and Amenities

Welcome to the beginning of The Dynamite Trail to Mahone Bay.  You are at the magnificent Martins River Bridge which was built in 1903 and recently refurbished in 2022.

This project included the two piers which stand on bedrock in Martins River.  They are formed with massive granite blocks, quarried from the railway’s own quarry in North River near New Germany.  Best viewed from the road below, each block is gradually tapered to result in the distinctive shape of the piers.  On the Eastern side of the bridge, a wooden trestle forms the last part of the span.

Martins River flows directly into the ocean and this bridge marks the end of navigational water at high tide.  To the east, the Chester Connector Trail, and ultimately the Rum Runners Trail, takes you all the way to Halifax.  To the West is one of the prettiest sections on the trail system in Nova Scotia; and we invite you to continue to the end (10km) or continue on to Yarmouth!

Waypoint #2 Martins River Fire Hall

Features and Amenities

Here at the Martins River Fire Department you are near the trailhead for the Dynamite Trail. We ask travellers to please park at the far end of the parking lot so as not to impede emergency vehicles.

This trail was once the railbed for the Halifax and South Western Railway, which was completed in 1904.  A ticket from here to Blockhouse was five cents.  The actual trailhead is behind the old church, and begins at the east end of Martins River Bridge.  It’s there you will find more information about this engineering marvel.

If you decide to go West however, toward Mahone Bay (10km), you will discover the beautiful outlook from the Narrows Bridge.  If you get there without noticing Erin Philp’s art exhibit in the trees, then you truly have “missed the boat”!  Just go back 50m and you’ll find all three.  Moving along from there, you will enjoy a lovely shaded trail all the way to the sparkling blue waters of Oakland Lake and the picturesque town of Mahone Bay.

Waypoint #3 The Narrows Basin Bridge

Features and Amenities

From here you can see the navigational entrance from the ocean to the Narrows Basin.  It is located to the left of the rocky outcrop seen at the far side of the Basin from this bridge. The Basin is tidal and at one point small fishing boats would have brought their catches into the wharves located here.  This sheltered harbour also provides a great anchorage during our storm season.  The Narrows Basin is part of Mahone Bay, and considered one of Eastern Canada’s finest boating communities.  More information on the actual Bay, may be found at www.mahoneislands.ns.ca

To the East, toward Chester, you will reach Martins River Fire Department parking area and continue over the magnificent Martins River Bridge to the end of The Dynamite Trail.  To the West, toward Mahone Bay, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the water from the bench up ahead.  Or continue on until you reach the Oakland Road parking area. If you continue on from there, you will reach beautiful Oakland Lake, where we have another set of benches.

Waypoint #4 Indian Point Access

Features and Amenities

For those who are cycling, you may want to divert south on Oakland Road to the once vibrant fishing community of Indian Point.  The old school has become a fire hall and the old general store is now a private summer residence.

From this point going East, you will encounter the Narrows Basin and the beautiful view from the Narrows Bridge.  If you choose West, across the road, the Trail will take you past an extensive beaver dam at Commons Lake, a popular watering hole for wildlife.

Waypoint #5 Commons Lake

Features and Amenities

Oakland Common is a 350+ acre land grant from King George III to the residents of Oakland in 1773. This beautiful lake is a fantastic site for birdwatching.

As you travel along the trail, you will arrive at the old siding, an access where dynamite was brought by rail from the CIL plant in Montreal and then transferred by truck to small freighters at the Dynamite Wharf, now Heron Point Road.  Explosives had to bypass Halifax, due to the city’s new restrictions of handling explosive cargo after the Halifax explosion of 1917.  Oakland provided safe anchorage until this mode of transportation stopped in the 1980’s.

Continue East toward Chester and you will pass an impressive Beaver dam, until you reach the Oakland Road Parking area.  Or, go West to the picturesque Town of Mahone Bay, a delightful seaside town with many amenities and warm, friendly people.

Waypoint #6 Sleepy Hollow Access

Features and Amenities

Sleepy Hollow Road was once the main highway from Mahone Bay to Halifax.  East of the small bridge on either side of the trail, you will see a wall-like structure.  This was formerly a dam created by a local grist mill, to grind the grains produced by local farmers.  The stream was created by digging a trench from Oakland Lake to Hirtle Cove, at the bottom of the road.

When the railway was built, the mill ceased operation; but the stream provided water for the Mahone Electrical Company generating plant, from 1901 to the early 1920s.

If you continue East, you will pass the dynamite siding, where dynamite was brought by rail and then transferred by trail to small freighters at the Dynamite Wharf in Oakland.  After the Halifax Explosion of 1917, all explosives had to bypass Halifax when shipped.  Much of this cargo was destined to the Caribbean, where it was used in the development of towns and communities far south.

If you decide to go West, you can enjoy the Oakland Lake viewing station, a comfortable bench, set among the trees, over-looking the shimmering lake.
It’s easy to lose time and space is this wondrous piece of Mother Nature.

Waypoint #7 Oakland Lake Viewing Station

Features and Amenities

Oakland Lake is the reservoir for the Town of Mahone Bay.  The drumlin hills that surround it provide a year-round constant water supply.

To the West you will cross the amazing Mushamush Bridge, once a wooden train trestle that was replaced in 1923 by a repurposed steel bridge from Quebec.  If you continue East, toward Chester, you will come to Sleepy Hollow Parking Area, a wonderful place to stop and admire the forest scenery.

Waypoint #8 Old Highway 3 parking

Features and Amenities

There is an access point for the trail off Highway 3 just before Mahone Bay, at Oakland Lake area. The parking lot is at the bottom of the hill, on the Old Trunk 3 turnoff

Waypoint #9 Mushamush Bridge

Features and Amenities

This bridge is 15 meters above the Mushamush River and was originally a wooden trestle.  It was eventually replaced in 1923 by a concrete pillar and steel structure, which was re-purposed from a bridge in Quebec.

East, toward Chester, you can enjoy the benches at the Oakland Lake Viewing Station, over-looking beautiful Oakland Lake.  Or, if you go West, you will come upon the Clearland Road parking area with quick access to the Town of Mahone Bay and the Visitor’s Center at the bottom of the hill.

Waypoint #10 Clearland Road Access

Features and Amenities

This is the Clearland Road parking area on the Dynamite Trail.  A short distance down the hill (to your left when exiting), you will find the Town of Mahone Bay Visitor’s Center.  For more information on the many activities, amenities and accommodations of this picturesque town, go to www.MahoneBay.com

If you go West from here, you will arrive at the Welcome Street parking area, which also provides access to the Town of Mahone Bay.

Or if you go East, you will encounter the impressive Mushamush bridge, overlooking the river (of the same name) from the treetops.

Waypoint #11 Welcome Street Access

Features and Amenities

Welcome to the Dynamite Trail and its Western trailhead.  This was once the location of the Mahone Bay Railway Station.  From here, passenger trains ran twice per day to Halifax.  There was also a battery powered Jitney (single car train) operating to Lunenburg. This train was partially re-charged by renewable energy and ran four times a day in the 1920s and ‘30s,

This is also the site of the most serious rail accident in Nova Scotia history.  In 1907, three people died when brake failure caused a massive derailment.

From here, you can travel East to Martins River where the Dynamite Trail ends; and it becomes the Rum Runners Trail, which continues on to Halifax.  To the West, you can take the Bay-to-Bay Trail to Lunenburg or the Adventure Trail to Bridgewater, then onward to Liverpool and Yarmouth.

Waypoint #12 Repurpose Point

Features and Amenities

An installation to repurpose historical industrial objects from Lunenburg County in support of an improved multi-user trail experience in the 3 Trails Junction area. Objects used are representative of historical industrial practices that supported the construction of the H&SW Railway in the early 1900s, as well as the industries served by that railway until the 1980’s.

More information on Repurpose point