Canoeing at Kejimkujik National Park


Canoes at Kejimkujik National Park, NS, Canada

Kejimkujik is a National Park in Nova Scotia, Canada (often called “Keji” for short). It is separated into two areas: the main park, located in the interior of the province, and the smaller Kejimkujik Seaside Park, located on the Atlantic coast.

The main park is a designated National Historic Site of Canada, established as a National Park in 1968. The park gets its name from Kejimkujik Lake, which is a Mi’kmaq word meaning “tired muscles” – a reference to the effort it took to canoe across the lake.

Keji has many brooks, rivers and lakes making it an ideal place for canoeing and kayaking. Native people have been using the canoe routes here for thousands of years and they are still in use today.

Kejimkujik Lake, Nova Scotia, Canada

 

My first canoe trip was in Keji Park. I had never taken paddling lessons but just learned as we went along. We paddled across Kejimkujik Lake and camped in an old lean-to on one of the islands. It was wonderful! We slept out in the open under a very starry sky.

Another memorable experience happened one beautiful autumn day when my husband and I decided to take a short paddle to one of the islands on Keji Lake. It was sunny and warm, and when we reached the island, we decided to have a picnic. While we sat enjoying the peace and quiet under the red and yellow maples, the wind suddenly picked up and it turned really cold. It started to snow! We were OK with that and started a small bonfire to warm up a bit. Because of the wind, we decided that we’d better head back sooner than planned.

Once we started back across the lake, we realized that it was a bit windier than we thought. The waves got bigger as we reached open water. Scared the canoe would tip over if we went side-on to the waves, we had to keep paddling until we reached shore. Needless to say, I have never paddled so hard and so fast in all my life! Our hands almost frozen, we made it back to the mainland safely but it was a very exhausting and scary paddle. It’s amazing how quickly the weather can change.

 

 

 

Canoeing at Kejimkujik Lake

 

There are many routes to follow in the park, from short day trips to backcountry trips that can take days. A good place to begin paddling in Keji is a one to two hour day trip from Jake’s Landing, paddling up the peaceful Mersey River. You’ll see red maples, turtles, frogs and water lilies, great blue herons, and maybe even a beaver. This trip is excellent for those with little canoeing experience.

From the Visitor Centre, you can launch your canoe from the dock and take a short, leisurely trip up another section of the Mersey River. While exploring this stillwater, be on the lookout for muskrats, snapping turtles, ducks, loons, and deer. Red-winged blackbirds are also common here in the summer.

 

Family of Deer, Kejimkujik National Park, NS, Canada

 

Big Dam Lake is another option, but you have to portage from the parking lot to the launching area. The entire lakeshore is forested, and you will see large stands of pine and hemlock plus many hardwood trees. The lake is divided into two halves and makes for a good two to three hour paddle.

Besides the many self-guided tours, there are guided canoe trips as well. You can bring your own canoe or you can rent one at the park. Whichever way you go, whatever route you take, you will enjoy experiencing the simplicity and tranquility of travelling by canoe at Kejimkujik National Park.

Be safe and happy paddling!
If you want to learn more about Nova Scotia, there are excellent guide books available for purchase from Amazon: Nova Scotia Travel Guides

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14 thoughts on “Canoeing at Kejimkujik National Park

  • Dave

    That sounds like a lot of fun though it must be pretty cold for it to be snowing! What month did you do it in? I’ve been canoeing in Banff in the Canadian Rockies, such a beautiful place! Highly recommend canoeing there if you haven’t already!

    • Robin Post author

      We were there in late September so it’s not unusual for it to snow at that time of the year. We were dressed for the weather (without gloves) and it started out as a beautiful day, we didn’t expect the wind to pick up so much.

      Banff is a beautiful spot, I haven’t been canoeing there but have visited.

  • John

    Robin,
    I like someday to take this canoe trip, it is a little far from my location in central USA. Me and my son went canoe camping last year. This is the first time I camped from a canoe. I have taken many day trips but never overnight. It was one of the best camping trips we ever took.
    Have you ever went down a river with alligators. This was a work related canoe trip in Florida. It was a lot of fun to see people that have never been in a canoe try to avoid gators floating on the top of the water.
    John

  • Ronnie Jordan

    These are some beautiful places. I never thought about canoeing before in an active state of mind. I have done it on vacations and it is nice. But toss in those sceneries and it puts more to the pleasure. It is much like riding bikes taking in the surroundings. Hope one day I can get to enjoy such a thing. Thanks.

    • Robin Post author

      I hope one day you can too, you will not regret it. Kejimkujik National Park and Nova Scotia, Canada has some of the most beautiful scenery on earth.

  • matts mom

    What a beautiful place to go canoeing. I grew up in Alaska, which I believe has very similar beauty. I have only driven through Canada. This would be a wonderful way to enjoy a vacation. Kejimkujik National Park looks beautiful and to see wildlife as well, would just be a bonus. Great information, thanks for sharing!

  • Furkan

    I really want to do some canoeing in Keji but would it be safe? After I heard your experience I will definitely go there when it is safe 😉 What would be the safest time of the year?

    • Robin Post author

      You would love canoeing at Keji Park and it is very safe as long as you follow some safety guidelines. Wear a PDF, dress for the weather, check the forecast and have a map. It is safest in the early morning and late afternoon when it isn’t as windy and there are fewer waves.

  • Elias

    Seems like an awesome place! On my next trip to Canada, I’ll make sure to visit this place because I’m a huge fan of nature, water, and kayaking/canoes. Seems like the perfect sanctuary for me.
    Water, forest, wildlife, I’m already pumped to see this place. And since I’m a big photography fan, with a decent, professional camera, the Canon 700D EOS, this is a good opportunity to enjoy nature and photography at the same time. I like it!