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The dirt on top picks for fun in Wolfville.

There's no better place than Wolfville, NS for a dirty weekend. From the distinctive tidal mudflats at the town's waterfront park to the dyke-top trails to the east and west, there are plenty of opportunities to get dirty both in and around the town that was once called Mud Creek.

Depending on the weather, the best way to first get your feet wet is by walking the dykes, earthen barriers constructed by the Acadians to protect rich marshland soil from the tidal waters of the Minas Basin. During dry periods the dyke-top trails are easily traversed, but after a downpour come prepared to jump some puddles. The dykes extend in two directions from the interpretive waterfront park at Wolfville's tiny harbour. One route winds to the west along the shores of the Cornwallis River toward Port Williams, passing the town of Wolfville and the spires of historic buildings on the Acadia University campus. The other route stretches to the east toward the village of Grand Pré and the Grand Pré National Historic Site, the location from which many Acadians were expelled in 1755. The dyke paths are well travelled by walkers and cyclists, offering a relaxing way to pass an afternoon while observing the tides.

For guaranteed mud and some of the most impressive scenery in the province, it's an 18-kilometre drive to Medford Beach. Here you'll be greeted by an almost lunar landscape of tall red sandstone cliffs and rock formations that are first cousins to New Brunswick's famous Hopewell Rocks. When the tide is out the red beach stretches far. Stick to the sand or squish through the rich mud to get a closer look at sandstone pillars that are sculpted daily by the Fundy tides. One of the area's best-kept geological secrets, Medford Beach is also a haven for shorebirds. On a warm afternoon it's not unusual to see dozens of great blue herons fishing on the shore. On a really warm afternoon it's even possible to see a few avid swimmers braving the bracing water. Medford Beach is a place that makes it easy to lose track of time, so consult a tide table before you go and keep a constant vigil. The tides are some of the highest in the world and they return with a fury. More than a few people have been stranded at high tide.

From Medford Beach it's a short drive to test your mettle in a different type of mud, but plan at least five hours for the 16-kilometre hike to Cape Split, a hook-shaped peninsula that extends into the Minas Basin like a finger, separating it from the Bay of Fundy. There's a difficult cliffside trail for thrill-seekers; for everyone else there's a moderate inland route that begins on a narrow path that runs along a fenced field before opening into a trail that's shaded by a canopy of maple and birch.  If there's mud to be found, you'll find it here-especially in the days after a downpour. Sturdy shoes or hiking boots will help you negotiate the slippery spots and climb the natural steps formed by exposed tree roots. Eventually the ground begins to level and the going gets easier. The light at the end of this tunnel of trees is an idyllic cliff top meadow with panoramic views across the Minas Basin to the Parrsboro shore. Twice a day there's a bird's-eye view of the riptides and tidal bore created by the dramatic surge of million of gallons of water. The meadow is the perfect place for a picnic before beginning the eight kilometre descent. The return trip seems faster and easier. For one thing it's down hill; for another, you know what to expect.

Knowing what to expect is the key to enjoying the Three Pools, a series of rock pools, cliffs and waterfalls located about eight kilometres from Wolfville at Hell's Gate Falls in White Rock. Don't look for the Three Pools in any official tourist brochure. Although the public has enjoyed the site for years, property owner, Nova Scotia Power now restricts its use. Yet despite the gated entrances and signage intended to deter access, locals and tourists continue to swim, climb rocks and leap from the 70-foot ledges above the deep pools. The thing to keep in mind is that the power company's 'Use at your own risk' policy is a response to liability issues. The wooded paths to the pools are sometimes slick with mud. The paths end at staggered rock ledges where the only handrails are low branches and twisted roots. Although descent to the pools is tricky at the best of times, children and adults of all ages are able to manage it quite successfully. The reward for their effort is a place of unparalleled beauty, the opportunity to cool off on a hot day, and a vigorous shoulder massage under the cascading waters of the middle pool. A healthy respect for nature and sensible shoes will ensure a pleasant visit.

How to get to the Three Pools

From Wolfville go west on Main Street past the stoplights at Exit 11. Continue through Greenwich for a few kilometres until you see Deep Hollow Road on the left. Follow Deep Hollow Road past the flashing stop at White Rock Road. Drive down a hill, over a bridge and up a hill. Near the top of this hill are two houses that flank a gated lane. There is enough room near the road to park a few cars, so leave the car there and walk for about 10 minutes until you reach the base of the tall water towers at Hell's Gate Station. From here you should be able to see the exposed curved surface of a large partially submerged pipe. Walk along the pipe for about a minute until you see a number of paths leading off to the left into the woods. None of these paths has any official marking, but you may spot a ribbon or two left by other adventurers. Once you have chosen a path, follow the sounds of running water.

How to get to Medford Beach

At Exit 11 in Wolfville follow Hwy 358 to Canning. Keep to the right and follow Hwy 221 for about four kilometres to Longspell Road. Turn left at Longspell, left again at Jackson Barkhouse Road, right at Parker Road and left at Medford Road. Make a slight right onto Medford Beach Road.

How to get to Cape Split

At Exit 11 in Wolfville follow Hwy 358 to Canning. Continue north to Scots Bay where the road veers to the left before ending at a small parking area.

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