Partridge Island
hiking & fossil hunting 

Partridge Island is a great place to go for a hike and to search for fossils.

The island and the beach area are awesome places to walk and explore. This area has become a favourite hunting ground for fossil hunters, beachcombers and rock hounds. 

This Bay of Fundy coastline near here has become well-known for extraordinary fossils and minerals so it is a draw for those looking for the next big find.

This is Partridge Island located near the town of Parrsboro in Nova Scotia. The island is on the Bay of Fundy and has a great hiking trail that offers some spectacular views of the bay.A view of Partridge Island

The ancient sandstone and basalt cliffs of Partridge Island are constantly eroded by the Bay of Fundy tides.  So it is very possible to find gemstones, minerals and fossils due to the ever-changing shoreline. 

However, beware, Nova Scotia law requires that any finds be taken to a museum for further study. 

Luckily, the Fundy Geological Museum is in Parrsboro so this is the perfect place to take your discoveries. It is also important to remember that fossils may not be excavated from bedrock without a permit. 

Regardless of these laws, looking for fossils, minerals and gemstones is a lot of fun and a great way to get the kids outside.

Before we go:

Directions:  Partridge Island is located near the town of Parrsboro which is on the Glooscap Tourist Trail on the beautiful Bay of Fundy.  Parrsboro is 45.4 km (28 mi) south of Springhill (follow highway 2 south) and 94.4 km (58 mi) west of Truro (follow highway 2 north). 

The easiest way to find Partridge Island once in Parrsboro is to start at the Fundy Geological Museum.

From the Fundy Geological Museum:  turn left on Main St. as you leave the parking lot; Main St. turns into Whitehall Road; at the bend in the road (after about 3.5 km) you’ll see a sign for Ottawa House which will be on your left. Check out the map below which lists Patridge Island. 

Follow the driveway into Ottawa House; you can park here or you can continue down to the beach and park there.

You’ll see a sign for the trailhead at the far right-hand end of the beach. 

GPS at the trailhead: 

N 45〫22’ 13.3’ W 64〫 19’ 59.7”

Hiking on Partridge Island is part of the Fundy Shore Ecotour.

Level of difficulty:  Partridge Island is not a difficult hike however there is a steep climb at the beginning.  Take your time and rest often if you feel the need. 

Length & time required:  3 km (2 mi) return trip; about 1.5 - 2 hours.

Clothes/Accessories:  The weather along the Bay of Fundy can be very unpredictable.  Check the weather forecast beforehand. A sweater or light jacket and raingear are always a good idea.  It can be very windy here and the clouds can move in very quickly. 

Sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots are a must; walking stick will help with the steep climb at the start of the trail; and, don’t forget the binoculars and camera.

Facilities:  There are a couple of benches along the trail but they weren’t in great condition when I was there. There is also a picnic table at the tower where there is a great look-off. There are no other facilities on this hike.

Tides Schedule

Make sure you are aware of the tide schedule before venturing close to the waters on the bay. The tides come in quite quickly so it is very important to be aware of the tides schedule.

To check the tides for your area of interest go to this Tides Schedule link.  Enter the location in the search box at the top corner of the map.

Ok!  let's get hiking on Partridge Island

You’ll see the island as you descend onto the beach.  It’ll be toward the south end of the beach, to your right as you are facing the Bay of Fundy. 

The beach itself is a great place to roam.  There are wonderful views in all directions. I saw several people with their dogs when I was there. 

There are a couple of large signs here which will help you in orienting yourself to the area. 

Beside the map is a great summary of the significance and geology of the island.

This is the beach that will lead you to the hiking trail on Partridge Island (Parrsboro, Nova Scotia). Do you like fossil hunting and beachcombing?  This beach is the perfect place!The beach leading to Partridge Island

The first part of the hike is the hardest.  You’ll climb about 100 feet (30.5m). I was there in the early spring so there was still snow on the trail. It was hard going but we made it.  I imagine that it is much easier when the snow is gone.

I was very happy to have my walking stick for this little climb.  There should be a bench at the top of this climb to have a little rest.

As you continue along the edge of the cliff be very careful!  It can be unstable here.  You have some elevation now so stop to take in the view of the beach and the Bay of Fundy.  There weren’t many leaves on the trees when we were there so we had a great view.

Springtime on the Partridge Island hiking trail.  Lots of snow and ice but we made it to enjoy great views of the Bay of Fundy!

You’ll continue to gradually climb and you’ll enjoy more great views of the Bay of Fundy and the Minas Basin. You’ll find yourself walking around the top of the island through lots of old fallen trees and they’ll be plenty of new ones.  The trail will descend a bit toward the other side of the island.

A great view of the Parrsboro coastline from the Partridge Island hiking trail.  This is also the Bay of it looks like low tide!Looking toward Parrsboro Harbour

It is here where you’ll reach a fantastic observation tower.  You’ll see Cape Sharp to your right and far off into the distance is Cape Split.  Cape Blomidon is directly across the Bay. 

The view from here is absolutely beautiful.  We were there when the sun was setting so it was difficult to get good pictures. 

This view certainly made the initial climb well worth it.

There is a very interesting nautical chart of the area beside the tower.  It explains where you are and what you can see from the look-off.  It seems like it has been there for a long time but is in very good condition. 

The sun is behind the chart so the colors and the print have not faded.

The gorgeous Bay of Fundy at sunset.  This is Cape Sharp taken from Partridge Island.
This tall rock has been eroded by the continual low and high tide cycles in the Bay of Fundy (Nova Scotia).Views of the Bay of Fundy from the Observation Tower

There is a loop (to your left as you are facing the bay) here that will take you back to the main trail and the beach where you started.

This trail is maintained by the town of Parrsboro but apparently half of the island is privately owned. So, please do not venture off the trail as it may be private property.

After the hike

The Fundy Geological Museum is definitely a place to visit while you are in the area.  It tells the story of some of the Canada's oldest dinosaurs and how their fossils and much more were found on these shores.

Another coastal hike in search of fossils?  Well, Wasson Bluff is the next place to explore.  It was at Wasson Bluff that the smallest dinosaur tracks in the world were found. There are lots of great places with beautiful vistas on the Bay of Fundy.

Hungry?  I checked out the Harbour View Restaurant (476 Pier Road) when I was in Parrsboro.  Great lobster rolls!  This place has a perfect location next to the beach where there is a awesome view of the lighthouse.

There is also a Tim Horton's at 4019 Eastern Ave.  I also had the chance to have a scallop dinner at the Glooscap Restaurant (758 Upper Main St.).  The scallops were excellent.

Ottawa House By the Sea is perfect for a little visit if you love history.  Prime Minister of Canada and Father of Confederation, Sir Charles Tupper, made this house his summer home for 18 years. Now a community museum it contains artifacts, genealogy information and historical momentos. 

Ottawa House By the Sea is perfect for a little visit if you love history.  Prime Minister of Canada and Father of Confederation, Sir Charles Tupper, made this house his summer home for 18 years.A view of Ottawa House by the Sea from Partridge Island

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