The Bull Run Trail is a 24 KM trail that connects to Bridgewater’s Centennial Trail on one side and to the Region of Queens on the other. It travels through the residential communities of Hebbville, Hebbs Cross, Italy Cross, Middlewood and Danesville. This multi-use trail is used for hiking, running, cycling, ATVing, snowmobiling and horseback riding. It is managed by the Bull Run Trail Association, a dedicated group of community volunteers whose hard work, effort and passion have created this wonderful trail for people of all ages and abilities to explore, be active, connect to nature and share good times.
Why should you visit this trail?
The Bull Run Trail has lots of little surprises! It boasts one of the only covered trail bridges in Nova Scotia (in Hebbville) and meanders along two lakes (Fancy & Wallace), farmland, streams, freshwater marshes and awesome businesses, including the Tastee Freeze and Indian Garden Farms. “There’s a nice wetland area between Hirtles Road and Somerset Road that is great for birdwatching, taking photos or painting”, says Bull Run Trail Association Chair, Rayburne Whynot. “There’s some lovely scenery”, he added, “You’ve just got to come out and enjoy it!” “The Middlewood Pond, by Slauenwhite Crossing is another really nice feature,” added Rayburne. The association will be installing some interpretive signage on the trail’s history there soon.
What are some of the future plans for the trail? There are some parking lots scattered along the trail including Wileville, Hebbville and Hebbs Cross, Somerset Road and Llewellyn Road, but there are plans to create more. The association also plans to install “wayfinding” signage that will help users know exactly where they are located at as they travel along the trail. The goal is for the entire trail to be surfaced with “crusher dust” which is a smooth surface perfect for walking and biking. Crusher dust was added to 4 km in 2020. The remainder of the trail is covered with Class A (small rocks) or is less developed.
Where did the name Bull Run Trail come from?
For decades the CNR rail line ran from Halifax to Yarmouth, through the communities of Danesville, Middlewood, Italy Cross, Hebbs Cross and Wileville. “The last train to run this section of the railroad was on June 5, 1991”, after which, the rail-line was abandoned and turned over to the provinces, Department of Natural Resources. This section lay dormant until 2002 when there was an interest in transforming the line into a multi-use trail.
A committee of volunteers formed the Bull Run Trail Association, a not-for-profit organization in January 2003. The trail was given the name “Bull Run Trail” recognizing the history of the area.
The community, now known as Middlewood grew from land grants issued in the 1830’s. Farmers had used portions of the railroad line that ran through Middlewood to move their cattle to different areas of land, where they grazed and ran free. For a time Middlewood was known as Slauenwhites’ Crossing. The name was later changed to Bulls Run, possibly as a result of an incident with an errant (adventurous) bovine. About 1890 the name Middleton was used and later modified to Middlewood in the early 20th Century.
Hebbville Academy borders the Bull Run Trail. Students in Grades 3 and 4, led by teacher, and mentor, Angela Scott, have been spending time on the trail since September as Trail Ambassadors. These dedicated students pick up garbage, fallen branches and debris, ensure that the gates are painted and do other maintenance. They also plan to share photographs and stories with the community about their learning experiences and explorations. It’s important to them to take care of the trail as well as the forest and ponds along it, as it’s a home for wildlife… and they want to set a good example to others.
“Several students have visited ‘Forest Friends’ this January with their families and thought it would be nice to bring some of those ideas to their part of the trail for students and community members to enjoy,” says Angela. “Last week they wrote inspirational words on paint sticks, given to us by Gow’s Home Hardware and they hung them on some of the trees along the trail,” added Angela. Their future plan includes adding some kindness stones.”
These kids and their teacher are pretty amazing! Their creative application for a $5000 Uplift grant to help them purchase bicycles, was approved. They hope to obtain 25 in total! In the kids’ words, “The bikes can take us far so we can see cool things around our school and learn about things in the woods like different trees. We can learn about wildlife too…like bunnies, squirrels, birds and snakes.” The bikes will help the kids complete their ambassador duties, as well as help them keep healthy and active. They want to set an example to others by demonstrating healthy living. They are thrilled that Michelin is providing them with helmets too!
How can you help?
The Bull Run Association originally had about 30 members. It’s down to about 10-12 now. Rayburne encourages people to join the association and get involved with developing the part of the trail that travels through their section of their community. He wants everyone to “have their voice heard” and have the opportunity to create a piece of this wonderful trail. Members meet the last Tuesday of the month (except in June, July and December) at the Italy Cross, Middlewood & District Fire Hall, at 7:00 pm.
Rayburne can’t thank the Bull Run Trail volunteers enough…the ones who were here at the start and those who help now and along the way. He would also like to give a shout out to the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg and especially Laura Barkhouse, the Trails & Open Space Coordinator. “We couldn’t have made this happen without her help”, says Rayburne. Provincial and municipal funding etc. have also helped the association achieve their goals too.
To learn more
Check out their website at bullruntrail.ca or their Facebook Page @bullruntrail or email Rayburne Whynot (Chair) at firstname.lastname@example.org