This article was originally published in the Chronicle Herald's weekly community papers and has been republished here with their permission.
On one side of this trail runs a highway, so close you can see drivers slurping their morning coffee and rocking out to their car tunes. On the other side is the Canadian Forces Rifle Range with a steady stream of bullets firing from it. But, wait!, stay with me. In the middle of the trail a river runs through it and this river is why you should take a walk on the Bedford Sackville Connector Greenway.
Almost immediately after I start my walk off Old Sackville Road (near Lynn Court) I begin seeing informational signs that tell me the story of the river. Part of that story includes the rows of rocks that stretch from from one side of the river to the other at various spots. It’s clear they do not naturally settle in that position and I learn from the signs that they are called rock sills.
The sills are built by volunteers with the Sackville Rivers Association to restore fish habitats that were damaged from development in the area. These formations allow water to flow over the rocks and create a natural downstream with pools and riffles for the Sackville River fish population, which include Atlantic Salmon, American Eel and Speckled Trout.
Fish aren’t the only residents of this river though. As I walk along I come to a spot that has a short path through the trees to the river. I glance down it as I pass and spot a Blue Heron standing majestically on the rocks of the river where, on the other side, cars speed by oblivious to his presence. I am so startled that by the time I think to take a photo he’s already happily skipped his way further down the river, likely looking for a little breakfast fish to start his day.
It’s about a five kilometre return trip from the Old Sackville Road entrance to the Bedford Place Mall. The trail is crusher dust and has a flat, even, accessible surface. There are also several benches to stop and enjoy the river, and a few bridges along the route offering stunning views. I meet several friendly people who seem to be on their regular morning dog walk, jog or stroll with friends.
Just past the rifle range, the trail takes me under the highway through a brightly painted tunnel and an overpass, and then goes beside a Bedford ballfield where it becomes a little quieter. Once at the mall the option is there to continue on through Bedford on this trail all the way to Scott Manor House (or, you know, if it’s a really hot day, to just stop at the True North Diner for a milkshake).
I’m not going to lie, this is not a quiet wander in the woods. This is an active transportation route designed to offer residents the option to walk between the communities instead of driving. It’s not a bad idea to bring a pair of headphones with nature sounds or soothing music to block out the surrounding noise. If you do that though, remember to look around and enjoy the beauty of the river. The Bedford Sackville Connector Greenway offers a rare front row seat to see community action at work nurturing a natural resource; and to see nature thriving, despite urban development, with a little help from its friends.