After being cooped up for much of the winter, as soon as the weather starts to improve I get eager to do things like get out in my yard, sit on the back deck, and go hiking in Halifax and the surrounding area. Yes, I know there are plenty of things you can do in the winter and I’m not exactly a full-on hermit, but I do prefer to be outside when it’s NOT cold or snowing.
A couple of years ago I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed and it got me a little hopped up about finding places to go hiking around Halifax. I’m not quite ready to do something like Cheryl did, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and sleeping out in a tent each night she was out, but some family-friendly hiking trails? Yes please.
Bayers Lake Mystery Walls Trail
One of the places that I found was commonly referred to as the Bayers Lake Mystery Walls. Essentially there are some stone wall-type structures that have never been explained in historical documentation. They were clearly built with purpose and they are now protected so I can only guess that they’ve determined they weren’t built by bored teenagers 30 years ago, but no one really know who exactly built them or what purpose they actually serve. They do believe they’ve been there since the early 1800’s though.
We kept forgetting to go check them out but then when we had a nice Sunday ahead of us with no plans a couple of weeks ago, we decided we wanted to escape the house for a bit. The forecast was iffy so we decided to go see these walls for ourselves since the trail isn’t super long and we could drive back home quickly if it started to rain.
As as added bonus, as is pretty much always the case, being out in the woods and the fresh air while getting some exercise were all perfect for taking a load off and dumping some stress and anxiety out.
I had read a description stating that the hiking trail is “moderate” – as in not easy, but you’re not going to plummet to your death off a cliff’s edge either. This was pretty accurate but I would add a little on to that – yes, it’s a moderate trail but be prepared to climb up over some big rocks if you want to go all the way around the loop. I’m not exactly at my best on rock but I managed, and the kids and George did fine. Breanna needed a bit of help just because she’s the shortest but nothing major. However, younger children might not be able to make it up safely.
Also, the trail is very narrow so if you go in the summer I would strongly advise against wearing shorts unless you enjoy scratching the ever-lovin’ hell out of your legs. Wear pants.
The rock area is the only major climbing section other than some stone steps which were easy to walk up; there is a fairly steep descent after the steps, but it isn’t scary, there are no edges to fall from, and it’s a dirt trail. If you aren’t adverse to leaning in and grabbing on to tree trunks, you’ll be fine.
As for finding your way, as I said the trail is super narrow in most places so it would be easy to get off track, but luckily there are orange ribbons tied along the way to just follow those. At the end of the day, it’s a good loop trail but the overall area isn’t really that big and it’s located in the center of a commercial area so it would be difficult to get completely lost. Worst case, the cell reception is just fine so you can always pull up a map to find your way out if you get turned around.
I will say that you shouldn’t go in expecting a full-on structure. The five-sided building is not built up very high and the long wall further along is maybe three feet high. It’s hard to say whether the building had ever been bigger. Maybe whomever was putting it together had to stop before it was finished. It was definitely cool though, and it was fun to check it out.
Note: As I said above, it is a protected area. You are forbidden from climbing up on top of the walls so even though it would be tempting, don’t do it. Also, please don’t be a jerk and take any of the rocks home with you. It’s stated that there are cameras in the area and although I didn’t manage to see one, I wouldn’t take any chances. Besides, why risk messing the whole thing up by knocking parts of it down? Don’t ruin it for everyone else!
I actually have no idea how long it took us because I forgot to check the time going in and coming back out, ha! But it’s really not a long trail. Even with stopping to check the walls out, my efforts in climbing up the rocks, and making our way back down, not to mention all the breaks to take pictures, I would say we were probably about 40 minutes. You could easily do it in half an hour or less if you just want a quick hike.
I think that the coolest part for me is the whole “hidden in plain sight” factor. We have driven past the area more than once but you would never know it was there just from glancing over. No one even knew it existed until they started developing the Bayers Lake area in the 80’s – I’m so glad they’ve protected it instead of just bulldozing over everything to put in a store.
If you are in the Halifax area and haven’t seen it yet, head to Bayer’s Lake and get on Chain Lake Drive. Turn on to Lovett Lake Ct. and park in the parking lot at the end. You’ll see a wide open trail which is where you’ll want to start but be careful! We walked right past the entrance to the actual trail leading to the walls the first time and ended up down by Chain Lake Drive again! Remember – hidden in plain sight. When you’re on the open trail, keep your eyes open; just as that trail turns right, you’ll see a hint of a trail up ahead in the trees. That’s where you want to go.