You know how much I love camping, so I was thrilled to spend a few nights snuggled up in my own private Parks Canada oTENTik (part tent, part cabin) at Kejimkujik National Park, camping at the Park and National Historic Site.
Located in the heart of the Acadian Shores region, about two hours west of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Kejimkujik (Keji for short) National Park and National Historic Site is a large (381 sq km) remote park of lakes, rivers, dense forest and beaches steeped in Mi’kmaw heritage.
It’s been a popular place for locals and visitors to connect with nature for generations. At Keji, you can camp in the Acadian forest, canoe, fish, and hike. You can learn about the history of the Mi’kmaw culture on a guided petroglyph tour, and gaze at millions of stars in Nova Scotia’s only Dark Sky Preserve.
Keji is an ideal place to unwind, relax and simply enjoy the beauty of the surroundings in this green heart of Nova Scotia. I’m delighted to share these tips for Kejimkujik National Park, camping and things to do.
Kejimkujik National Park camping in an oTENTik
For my camping at Kejimkujik National Park experience, I was nestled under a leafy canopy along the shore of Kejimkujik Lake. My home was a Parks Canada oTENTik, a hybrid camping cross between a tent and a cabin.
oTENTiks are very comfortable and perfect for family camping experiences. It can sleep up to six people and includes dining table, beds (including a loft bed), food prep table and a heating source.
Kejimkujik offers a variety of camping experiences from front-country campsites for tents, trailers, and RVs to backcountry sites accessible by hiking, biking, or paddling.
In addition to oTENTiks, Keji has five treetop-style Ôasis (new for 2021), rustic cabins, and yurts. The five new heated Ôasis units, and the heated oTENTik tents and rustic cabins are located at Jim Charles Point.
The tents and cabins are equipped with mattresses and their shelters are perfect for a more cozy shoulder season visit. Bedding isn’t provided, so you’ll have to pack your sleeping bag and warm clothes for those off-season stays.
Each campsite includes several comfy Muskoka chairs and a firepit for cooking camping recipes and roasting marshmallows. Firewood is available for purchase. Make Parks Canada campsite reservations here.
Read more tips for camping in Canada’s National Parks
When can you camp at Keji National Park?
Camping is available from May 20 to October 30. Camping is not permitted from November to April.
Where is Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site?
Kejimkujik (Keji for short) National Park and National Historic Site is located about two hours drive west of Halifax, Nova Scotia. With 381 square km of rolling hills, old growth hemlocks and interconnected waterways, Keji is a gentle wilderness that has been welcoming generations of families to canoe, camp and connect with nature.
Uniquely designated a National Historic Park and a National Historic Site, Kejimkujik is the only Canadian National Park with a dual designation. Not only does the park protect a unique sample of the Acadian forest and a diverse ecosystem, it also preserves and presents a cultural landscape, celebrating the presence of the Mi’kmaq from time immemorial.
New Gender-Neutral Accessible Washrooms at Keji
If you camp, you know how important good washrooms are. I personally love a warm shower every morning or after a lake dip.
Parks Canada agrees with me. In 2020, they installed gender-neutral, inclusive and accessible washroom facilities at Keji’s Jeremy’s Bay Campground.
The ten modern and inclusive washroom and shower facilities feature an accessible, barrier-free design. The washrooms are gender neutral and designed for improved privacy and personal security. They’re larger, more comfortable and are well located, reducing the distance to showers.
Kejimkujik National Park Seaside
Kejimkujik National Park Seaside is a separate protected wilderness on the Atlantic coast. Only 93 kms from Keji’s insland region, Kejimkujik Seaside offers beautiful and pristine white sand beaches, stunning turquoise waters, coastal bogs, wildflower meadows and lots of coastal wildlife.
Things to Do at Kejimkujik National Park
You’re in the heart of Nova Scotia’s natural wonderland, so it’s only fitting you’d want to spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors, right? That’s easy to do in Keji.
Bike the Ukme’k Trail
Kejimkujik’s newest trail is a twisty, turny route along the Mersey River. Suitable to explore by foot or by bike, weave your way through the beautiful landscape of Acadian forest.
The name Ukme’k (pronounced “ook-may-k”) is great for intermediate-level challenges that beginners can easily bypass. The word means twisted in Mi’kmaq, and was inspired by the winding path this trail takes along the Mersey River.
You can choose to take it easy or challenge yourself with the optional technical features that are perfect for mountain bikers. Fun fact: The biking route was designed by mountain bike experts from Canmore, Alberta.
The Ukme’k Trail winds along the forested banks of the Mersey River. Travel the 13.5 km from Mill Falls to Merrymakedge almost entirely on trails. You can access Ukme’k from trailheads at Mill Falls, Flowing Waters, and Mersey River trail parking lots. Bicycle rentals are available at Why Not Adventure, located in the park.
Canoeing in Kejimkujik on the Mersey River
The Mersey River meanders through Keji, and its ‘steeped tea’ dark water is the result of the tannins from decomposing organic matter.
You can rent canoes or kayaks from Why Not Adventure, located in Keji at Jakes Landing. Whether it’s a guided half-day paddle or multi-day backcountry canoe and portage trip, the company and its friendly staff can outfit you with everything you may need to enjoy and explore the green heart of Keji.
Take a hike in Kejimkujik
There are lots of trails in Kejimkujik National Park. There are 12 frontcountry hiking trails, two backcountry trails and two seaside trails.
The Hemlock and Hardwoods Trail is one of the most well-known trails in Keji. It’s a 5 km loop trail that passes through a forest of 300-year-old hemlocks which are among Nova Scotia’s oldest trees.
A hemlock boardwalk has been constructed to take you over the sensitive roots of these giants. The tall, thick-leafed canopy makes even the hottest summer day feel cool, dark and moist. It’s a gorgeous walk and rated as easy.
The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA), an aphid-like insect, threatens Keji’s old growth hemlocks. HWA is an invasive species that attacks and kills hemlock trees. Parks Canada is working to inoculate Keji’s hemlock trees in an effort to eliminate the scourge in Nova Scotia.
Explore the Kejimkujik Dark Sky Preserve
Keji is Nova Scotia’s only Dark Sky Preserve, where you can experience the darkest sky and brightest stars. Gaze at brilliant celestial galaxies and discover how stars have inspired centuries of story, song, and legend.
The Park hosts an annual Dark Sky weekend, where you can search Kejimkujik’s spectacular night skies for planets, galaxies, constellations, meteors, and more. 2022 dates are: Friday, August 19 to Sunday, August 21, 2022.
Take a guided tour of the Mi’kmaw petroglyphs
There are over 500 individual petroglyphs within Kejimkujik National Historic Site. The carvings are part of the ancestral territory of the Mi’kmaw people, and the park is home to the largest collection of Mi’kmaw rock carvings in eastern North America.
These carvings were made on smooth stone on the shores of Kejimkujik Lake, and can be viewed only on a guided cultural tour in the UNESCO South West Nova Biosphere.
The carvings are an invaluable resource for understanding the history and lives of the Mi’kmaw ancestors. The carvings depict images of clothing, ships, animals and people. It’s an important glimpse into the past, telling the story of the Mi’kmaq and how they viewed the world around them.
Fishing at Keji
Fishing has played a significant role historically in Kejimkujik, from the time of traditional food gathering of the Mi’kmaq.
If you’re keen to fish, remember to purchase a National Park Fishing Permit (purchased daily or by season) to fish on Kejimkujik’s rivers. There is excellent spring trout fishing in Keji’s lakes and rivers.
Enjoy a Parks Canada Perfect Picnic
Parks Canada has put its own spin on “take-out!” They partnered with local restaurants on the creation of a Perfect Picnic.
What is a Perfect Picnic? It’s a ready-made lunch that you can pre-order and pick up, and then let nature design your dining space. Enjoy your picnic on a white sand beach, sitting on a Parks Canada red chair or by Keji Lake.
Perfect Picnic partners for Keji include; The Hollow Log Café and Lane’s Privateer Inn. Remember to place your Perfect Picnic order at least one day ahead of time.
So, what is geocaching? It’s basically a modern treasure hunt that’s popular with people of all ages. Participants use their GPS (Global Positioning System) or the Geocaching® app on their phone to locate a hidden “cache”.
Cache containers come in various shapes and sizes, but typically contain a logbook so geocachers can record their find. Note that all Keji geocaches will be located on trails. Do not venture off-trail in search of hidden treasure – you won’t find any!
Find the Parks Canada red chairs
There are more than 200 locations of iconic Parks Canada red chairs across the country. Finding them has become a bit of an obsession for some people. There are six sets of its iconic red Adirondack chairs in several peaceful and scenic locations in Kejimkujik. You can try to find them all, or just sit and enjoy the closest one you come across.
Here’s a hint on the red chair locations: Kejimkujik entrance, Mill Falls Trail, Nancy Cove picnic area, Merrymakedge, Peter Point Trail, Portage N (Poison Ivy Falls).
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Disclosure: The writer stayed at Kejimkujik National Park as a guest of Parks Canada.
Photos: Claudia Laroye