This article was originally published in the Chronicle Herald's weekly community papers and has been republished here with their permission.
As I steer my bike off Glendale Drive onto the First Lake Trail, it almost feels like I’m slipping into a secret garden. The park entrance is barely visible from the busy street but almost immediately I’m enveloped in nature. The road noise quickly fades away and the trees surrounding the pathway hide the cars and most of the nearby buildings.
I’ve just spent two days travelling with my husband and children, sitting in a car for hours on end, which is a great motivator for me to go play in the woods. I need some time to recharge so I’ve decided to bike the 15 kilometre round trip trail system within the 700 acre Sackville Lakes Provincial Park (better known as First and Second Lake Trails).
I start my ride by cruising along First Lake Trail, which goes behind the Sports Stadium and Sackville High, then over a cobblestone bridge. This leads me into the Kinsman playground, splash park and a sandy beach area which is packed with families on this sunny day. The trail is mostly even terrain and covered in crusher dust making it an easy and comfortable ride for cyclists of any skill level.
As I bike along the rest of the First Lake Trail, I settle in and enjoy the crunch of gravel under my tires and the whoosh of air past my ears. There really is no other feeling quite like it. The remainder of this section boasts stunning views of the lake dotted with people out for a paddle or a swim, a couple more bridges, baseball fields, unique views of the Sackville Arena and the Sackawa Canoe Club and, finally, a boardwalk near the trail entrance off Sucker Brook Road.
As I approach the Second Lake Trail I need to cross First Lake Drive, the only street that goes through the park. While there are entry spots all along the trails, no other ones require me to cut through any neighbourhoods, maintaining the illusion that I’m miles away from civilisation. There is also a large new parking lot and bathroom at this trailhead, which has made access to the park much safer than before.
At the beginning of this trail there’s a fairly steep downhill leading to the lake (so have your brakes ready unless you want to take a little dip!). Compared to the First Lake Trail, the Second Lake Trail is more challenging with hilly terrain that weaves in and out along the water’s edge, however it’s still crusher dust so the surface is smooth.
There are many other cyclists and walkers out, as there are most days, and I am struck by the friendliness of everyone I pass - though that may have more to do with them smiling at the goofy grin on my face from the fun of riding the trail. It’s hard not to smile (and even call out an occasional “woo hoo!”) cycling down some of those hills.
As I loop back to the beginning of the trail I slip back through the entrance onto Glendale Drive and try to acclimate myself back into the real world, happy in the knowledge that any time I need to get away from it all, this oasis in Lower Sackville is ready to welcome me again.