HALIFAX – People looking to move more, breathe fresh air, and walk off winter doldrums can enjoy Nova Scotia's provincial parks.
"Provincial parks are for everyone, year-round," Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker said in a news release. "People can explore trails, walk beaches, and take in the scenery throughout the winter months. Parks are not open for camping off season but they are great places to experience nature."
Visitors can explore provincial parks on foot even when park gates are closed. Cars should be parked safely outside the park's gate.
Many parks are ideal for winter hiking, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing, so long as park visitors use caution as trails are not maintained during the winter and usual park services are not available.
Dog walkers, using leashes 6 feet or shorter, may exercise their dogs in parks if they stay on the trails and clean up after their animals.
"Let's get inspired by Nova Scotia's beauty this winter and all the great things happening in our communities," Health and Wellness Minister David Wilson said in a news release. "Let's move more, get outside and play more, and do our part to make Nova Scotia a place where we can all thrive!"
The province is working with partners to implement Thrive! A plan for a healthier Nova Scotia. The plan sets out 34 actions to create supportive environments for healthy eating and physical activity.
Shubenacadie Wildlife Park is open for visitors to experience a variety of wildlife. Winter visiting hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends only.
Some community groups and municipalities are offering programs in provincial parks during winter months, as follows:
Take the Roof off Winter, a family event, will happen Jan. 20, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., at Ellenwood Lake Provincial Park in Yarmouth Co. Enjoy cross-country skiing, snow sculpture building, and snow art. Hot chocolate will be provided. Sponsored by the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth.
At Mickey Hill Provincial Park in Annapolis Co., a hike/snowshoe event coordinated by Annapolis County Recreation begins at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 3.
The Cape Breton Island Hoppers Volksport Club is offering a winter walk/cross-country ski/snowshoe event at Mira River Provincial Park, Cape Breton Co., on Feb. 10 at 2 p.m.
There will be a 10-kilometre walk/snowshoe event at Oakfield Provincial Park, Halifax Co., on Feb. 16 at 10 a.m.
At Valleyview Provincial Park in Annapolis Co., join the Valleyview Moonlite Snowshoe Trek on Feb. 25 at 6:30 p.m.
The five-kilometre trek is coordinated by Annapolis County Recreation.
Nova Scotia has more than 130 provincial parks. To learn more about winter activities being held in provincial parks, visit www.novascotiaparks.ca .
Pledge to Thrive! at thrive.novascotia.ca .