Thomas’ Cove Coastal Reserve – part one

For some odd reason, I’ve had some difficulty trying to figure out how to write about Thomas’ Cove. What to say and which photos to use to describe this special place? I suppose the best place to begin is by writing something dry and mundane about the location.

Thomas’ Cove is located on the Bay of Fundy near the village of Economy. It’s a coastal reserve of forested lands surrounding a large, protected cove. The best way to get a feel for the geography is probably to look at the map on the trailhead sign. If you picture yourself standing at the “You are here” spot, looking out across the cove towards the Bay of Fundy at low tide, the cove would look like this (click on image to see a much larger version of this panorama view – 208kb).

Amazing as it may seem, when the tide is in, the whole cove fills and only the edges of higher sections of beach are above water. The tide comes in very rapidly, so explorations out onto the tidal flats require great caution. In the above panorama, that forested “arm” of the cove is where we hiked on our final day in Nova Scotia – that’s the Economy Trail. The previous week, we hiked the Headlands Trail that lies on the left “arm” of the cove.

During our previous visits to Thomas’ Cove, we never arrived at the right time to explore the tidal flats surrounding the cove. However, on our final visit before returning home, the timing was just right to allow us to wander along the beach, out around the cove to a spot beside the tip of the right part of the cove. So picture us out in that open spot in the center of the cove, just a little out from the right arm. I shot a 360 degree panorama while standing at that very spot. It might be of interest to some of you if you’ve never walked out onto the tidal flats of the Bay of Fundy. This is the smaller version (56kb), and this is the larger version (224kb). As you can see, the “green grassy part” is looking back into Thomas’ Cove, while the tidal flats of the Bay of Fundy stretch off into the distance outside the cove. The two high red sandstone headlands are visible — the closest being right beside my vantage point, and the other being across the mouth of the cove. As you can see, the sandstone is very worn and shaped by the water. There are small cave-like openings into the sides of the cliffs (see photo at top as well).
Note: Again, it should be strongly emphasized that you should not venture far out onto these flats (!!!) and should be *very* well aware of the tide times, and pay plenty of attention to the time and the tides if you choose to do any exploring as the tides in this area come in much more quickly than other areas of the coast!

As you can see from 360 panorama and the above photo, the below-tide landscape is not so smooth as one might think. Although there are flat sections, there are undulating ridges and other shaped formations. One thing that is not apparent from the photos is just how slippery the rocks are to walk on. Even Sabrina had a couple of slips as she wandered over the exposed sea floor. Everything is coated with slippery red clay-like mud. Once it has dried in the heat of the sun, the footing is pretty decent, but many areas remain wet and great care must be taken to avoid a bad fall.

Looking out across the larger bay, you can see the headlands and small islands off of Five Islands Provincial Park.

Okay, that’s my attempt to describe the cove and the tidal activity at this location. All I can say about it is that walking around out in the tidal zone, looking up at the sandstone headlands and imagining everything under water in a couple of hours or so gives me an odd feeling — very difficult for me to explain, so perhaps I won’t even try. I’ll write more about Thomas Cove in a second part — about the trails and flora and fauna seen during our last hike before leaving Nova Scotia.

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5 Responses to “Thomas’ Cove Coastal Reserve – part one”

  1. Peter Says:

    Amazing place. I deffinitly have it on my list to visit this summer. I was able to witness tides like this for the first time last weekend, we took low and high tide pictures, we were completely blown away at how much of a difference there was and how fast it came in. Most deffinitly check tide times before venturing out.

    Looking forward to the next part!

  2. burning silo Says:

    Peter – It is an amazing place. The shape of the cove is such that the tidal action seems quite unusual. To add even more interest, there’s a small estuarine creek that empties into one side of the cove (as can be seen on the map). That creek goes from almost dry to full-to-the-top in less than an hour… and the actual watercourse is quite deep. If you hike the Headlands trail, you’ll be able to see the creek on your way out and the way back as the first section of trail must be retraced at the end. I’ve photographed the creek from the same point on several occasions and its interesting to compare the water levels. By the way, if you hike the Headlands Trail, it’s a little rougher and is a bit confusing in one section due to some downed trees. If you look around a bit, you can see some orange trail marker tape on some trees beyond the fallen trees, and can pick up the trail to carry on from there. The Economy Trail is pretty clear all the way along as it seems to receive a bit more use. They’re both nice, but the Economy Trail may have the best views from the look-offs and the footing is generally a little better.

  3. robin andrea Says:

    I know I’m never going to make it to the Bay of Fundy, so these photographs and descriptions have been quite a treat. It really is a spectacular place.

  4. burning silo Says:

    Robin – Thanks, I’m glad that you’ve enjoyed the “tour” of the Bay. Each visit seems to reveal new things about it. I suppose the same can be said about many places on this earth, but somehow, the Bay does seem to be unique.

  5. Burning Silo » Blog Archive » Thomas’ Cove Coastal Reserve - part two Says:

    […] A couple of days ago, I posted part one of a piece on Thomas’ Cove Coastal Reserve. This post picks up where where I left off after describing the cove, the geography, and the tidal action of the area. We’ve hiked there on four occasions during our last two visits to Nova Scotia – twice on the Headlands Trail, and twice on the Economy Trail. What follows is a glimpse of what one might see along either trail, although all of the photos were shot along the Economy Trail on our final day in Nova Scotia. […]