“So, there’s no way to avoid getting wet?” I asked, already knowing the answer as I tentatively peered down at the trickling creek ahead of me. My white sneakers were still miraculously clean and dry, despite just hiking through thick brush down a steep, forested hill.
Laurie Currie, a seasoned outdoorsman and the owner of Local Guy Adventures stood ankle-deep in the swirling water ahead of me, trying his best to conceal a grin as he confirmed that yes, we were absolutely going to get wet and there’s no way around it.
A small price to pay I suppose, when one gets to rappel to a hidden, double waterfall in a slot canyon.
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A hidden gem in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia
The Cliffs of Fundy Geopark in Nova Scotia has two slot canyons, and there are only three in the entire province. One of them is on Bennett Hill between the fishing villages of Parrsboro and Advocate Harbour, along the Bay of Fundy which is known for being home to the world’s highest tides.
Currie says it’s so remote that only a handful of locals have ever ventured into this special spot–and he would know, being a fourth-generation resident and all.
Booking a tour with Local Guy Adventures is the only way in, unless you fancy some orienteering, a bit of bushwhacking and rock scrambles. It’s much easier to visit with Currie, who runs the company and leads their customized tours alongside his wife Cindy.
The waterfall hike in Cliffs of Fundy Geopark
Our adventure started out under the lighthouse in the community of Spencers Island, and we hopped into Currie’s truck for the bumpy, dusty ride up to the top of Bennett Hill. With bear spray at the ready and a climbing harness fastened around my torso, we soon set off through the old growth forest.
He occasionally paused to point out facts about a particular plant, share a bit about the history of the area, proudly tell me about his three daughters, and offer a helping hand down steep crevasses as we made our way down the slope toward the sound of a babbling brook.
It only took about half an hour to get down to the water, at which point Currie confidently started sloshing upstream among the river rock as I gingerly hopped from boulder to boulder, in a futile attempt to keep my kicks dry.
Yeah, that’s not going to happen when you’re about to climb over a waterfall.
Imposing cliffs blanketed in soft, green moss framed the falls, and I let out a gasp when they came into sight. Two-tiered George Fraser Falls feels like you’ve stumbled into some sort of secret garden, a place so wild and untouched you can’t believe how lucky you are to be one of the few people on the planet to have made it in here.
While the sight of the cascading water is rewarding enough, this is where the real fun begins: rappelling over the falls and into the slot canyon hiding behind it.
Currie pointed to a rope slithering down a section of the 200-foot high canyon walls which we’d use to climb up to a ledge, traverse across, then rappel over the edge behind the waterfall.
Channeling my inner mountain goat I eagerly scrambled up, feeling surefooted and grateful for all those Saturday morning gymnastics classes I’d taken as a little girl.
In no time at all I found myself heading across the traverse while clipping my carabiner to a second rope, and as I made my way toward the edge where Currie waited I realized we were looking straight down at the waterfall.
How many people can say they did that on vacation?
Next up was rappelling over the edge, and Currie assured me that he’s brought all ages and sizes of people through this gorge which is accessible for most skill levels.
He knows every inch of these rocks, and coached me on foot placement as I blindly felt around for the little ledges, making my way about 15 feet down to the rocky surface below.
One last set of ropes, one last water crossing, and there it was: at the end of a narrow sliver of the gorge, another mesmerizing set of falls was tucked into the cavern.
They gushed out of the charcoal-coloured cliffs, like a white stripe flashing against the dim cavern walls cloaked in green algae.
I gazed at the waterfall in awe, tempted by the idea of ducking underneath for a refreshing swim to celebrate the end of this hike. The goosebumps popping up on my arm suggested otherwise as the late afternoon sun was disappearing, and with that we took one last look at the gushing falls and headed back, harnesses and ropes in tow to finish our uniquely Nova Scotian adventure.
Booking with Local Guy Adventures
The waterfall tours are available to book year-round, and it takes about three hours to do the four kilometer round trip which is capped off with a homemade snack back in Spencers Island. Excursions cost $55 per person, and groups of up to 10 are welcome.
Local Guy Adventures also offers fat biking along the beach of the Cliffs of Fundy Geopark, paddleboarding, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, and boat tours out to places like Cape Split, Halls Harbour and Isle Haute to experience the famous tides in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia
An avid trail runner (we’re talking ultra marathons, people), Currie also leads group runs, and at the end of the day you can fall asleep to the sound of waves lapping at the shoreline from one of their charming wooden tents in Spencers Island.
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