Balancing Rock Trail is a must-see natural wonder located on Long Island in Nova Scotia. If you’re looking for a short hike off the beaten path, you should definitely visit this place. About 3.5 hours from Halifax, Balancing Rock offers a beautiful trail filled with interesting information and stunning natural landscape—without the city crowds. This is one of those short Nova Scotia hikes that you won’t want to miss.

Balancing Rock
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Balancing Rock on Long Island, NS.

About Balancing Rock Trail

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Obligatory selfie at Balancing Rock!

Location: Tiverton, Long Island, Nova Scotia
Distance: 2.5 km out and back
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 70 m elevation gain
Time: 45 min – 1.5 hours
Dog-friendly: Yes, but dogs must remain on-leash.
Features: Balancing Rock Trail is well-groomed with a mix of boardwalk and gravel paths. Over 250 steps lead down to the viewing platform where you’ll find the Balancing Rock. On a clear day, this trail also offers beautiful views of St. Mary’s Bay.

Finding the Trailhead

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Parking lot sign.

Located near Tiverton, the Balancing Rock trail is about 3.5 hours (286 km) from the city of Halifax. Drive the Trans Canada (Hwy 101) until reaching Digby, then take Hwy 217 down the Digby Neck until arriving in East Ferry. Here you’ll catch the ferry across.

The Petit Passage Ferry is a free service from Easy Ferry to Tiverton, Long Island. The boat leaves East Ferry on the half-hour (i.e. 1:30, 2:30, 3:30) and Long Island every hour (i.e. 1:00, 2:00, 3:00). Even during the summer, wait times are quite short if the ferry loads to capacity and you have to catch the next one.

Balancing Rock parking area is only 5 minutes (4 km) from the ferry landing. You’ll find a gravel parking lot with non-flush toilets and garbage containers. As one of the most popular attractions on the island, there are plenty of signs along the way. You can’t miss it.

Read more: Cape Split Trail: One of the Best Hikes in Nova Scotia

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Petit Passage Ferry from East Ferry to Long Island, NS.
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Boar’s Head Lighthouse from the ferry.

Balancing Rock Trail: Hiking in Nova Scotia

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Balancing Rock Trail is well maintained with good signage.

Hiking to the infamous Balancing Rock doesn’t take long. The 2.5 km roundtrip can be completed in about 30 to 45 minutes. However, I’d suggest taking at least an hour to enjoy the stroll (and longer if you want to read the informative signs). Overall, this trail makes for great hiking in Nova Scotia.

From the parking lot, Balancing Rock Trail is essentially a straight shot with nice gravel paths and sections of boardwalk. Toward the end of the trail, about 250 steps lead down to the viewing platform on the water’s edge. You should be relatively fit and able to climb stairs. Once on the platform, you’ll see the vertical basalt column that’s over 20 feet tall and weighs more than 20 tonnes. You’ve made it to Balancing Rock. In my humble opinion, the volcanic rock spectacle is absolutely worth the short jaunt. After all, it took 200 million years for Balancing Rock to form… so 45 minutes is a piece of cake!

Read more: Fishing Cove Backcountry: One of the Best Cape Breton Campgrounds

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Beautiful fall colours along the boardwalk.
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Nicely groomed gravel trail.
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I counted 251 steps leading down to the viewing deck.
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Great view of St. Mary’s Bay!
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Volcanic basalt formations surrounding Long Island.
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Watch your step (especially when it’s rainy).
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Balancing Rock took 200 million years to form!
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That vertical column is 20 feet tall and weighs over 20 tonnes!
Balancing Rock Trail
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I couldn’t blow it over….

Things To Do Near Long Island, NS

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Cormorants hanging out on a fishing boat off the Digby Neck.

Nova Scotia’s Long Island isn’t centrally located, but it’s worth the trip to explore. Plenty of other stops can be added to your itinerary, including provincial parks and local beaches. Long Island is sandwiched between St. Mary’s Bay and the Bay of Fundy, so there’s no shortage of beach to explore.

When you first arrive on the island, the Tiverton Visitor Information Centre can provide maps and NS hiking trails information. When I visited, there was an art gallery on display. If I had more time, I would have hiked the Fundy View Trail in Freeport or the Brier Island Coastal Trail (both recommended by locals).

On Long Island, Flour Cove is a locally popular rock beach, and the nearby Central Grove Picnic Park is a perfect place to bring lunch on a warm sunny day. Once you leave Long Island, you’ll find Sandy Cove Beach tucked away on the Digby Neck. While the Bay of Fundy tends to be too cold for swimming, you may think otherwise on a really hot day. Nevertheless, its a good place to spot seals and other wildlife, too. Finally, Lake Midway Provincial Park nearby on the Digby Neck has several picnic tables, outhouse toilets, and a boat launch. Apparently a decent place for canoeing and kayaking.

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Flour Cove living up to its name.
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Central Grove Picnic Park on Long Island.
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Lake Midway Provincial Park on the Digby Neck.
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Sandy Cove Beach on the Digby Neck.
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Map of more NS hiking trails.

Balancing Rock Trail Map

Have you seen the iconic Balancing Rock in Nova Scotia? Are you thinking about visiting in the near future? Did this post provide helpful information or is something missing? Leave a comment below!

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Balancing Rock Trail: Natural Attraction in Nova Scotia via @outandacross
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