Rocky coves, lobster boats, seals in the distance: this is Nova Scotia & Acadia.
Nova Scotia offers the charms of a foreign country close to home. It’s the little things that stand out: an accent deeply rooted in a centuries-long maritime tradition, a landscape dotted with working farms, small (really small!) towns and big (really big!) seascapes.
Riding with a group and two Overland leaders makes it all so much fun. It’s not just what we’ll see and do—it’s who we’ll do it with that matters. We’ll visit Kejimkujik National Park and explore Kejimkujik Lake; in Lunenburg, we’ll take a break from riding to sea kayak the island-dotted coast. All good stuff, all made so much better by sharing it with a group of enthusiastic new friends and two caring Overland leaders.
Acadia National Park and Cadillac Mountain: the perfect end to three weeks of riding. Acadia is Maine’s coast distilled: all of the beauty you can imagine—the rocky shoreline, the deep blue water, the seals and bird life—it’s all here. And Cadillac Mountain is the ideal final ride: a challenge (but nothing we can’t handle) and a view (wow!) we’ll always remember.
New friends, great leaders, biking, sea kayaking: when you come right down to it, this is Nova Scotia & Acadia.
The physical challenge, a changing setting and the opportunity to bond with a group was a fantastic combination for Christopher.
- Carolyn Patten, New Canaan, Connecticut
Days 1 & 2: Trip Start
We’ll meet in Portland, Maine, and drive north to Bangor for our first night together. In the afternoon, we’ll learn how to load our bikes, practice riding as a group and prepare for the journey ahead. The next day, we’ll drive to St. John, Canada, and ferry across the Bay of Fundy to Digby, Nova Scotia.
Days 3-7: Crossing Nova Scotia
Our first few days of riding take us across the peninsula of southern Nova Scotia. While crossing the interior, we’ll swim in large glacial-carved lakes and ride through Kejimkujik National Park, the only inland national park in Canada’s Maritime Provinces. Here, we’ll explore the hiking trails and swim in beautiful Lake Kejimkujik. We’ll then continue our ride across the peninsula until we reach Nova Scotia’s beautiful coast.
Day 8: Sea Kayak on Mahone Bay
In Lunenberg, we’ll spend a day sea kayaking with experienced guides on the pristine waters of Mahone Bay. On this full-day excursion, we’ll explore the sheltered coves, rugged coastline and sandy beaches that make Mahone Bay famous.
Days 9-15: Coastal Nova Scotia
We’ll ride along the coast of eastern and southern Nova Scotia. From our bikes, we’ll take in the breathtaking scenery: sandy shorelines, coves and small fjords and an interior boasting beautiful lakes and rolling countryside. Biking from campsite to campsite, we’ll visit quaint seaside towns and stay in some of Canada’s beautiful provincial parks as we make our way along the coast. We’ll head south to Yarmouth and then north to Digby before taking the ferry across the bay.
Days 16-18: Acadia National Park
Once on Mount Desert Island, we’ll bike to our campground, which is ideally situated a short distance from Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. We’ll spend a day visiting downtown Bar Harbor, and we’ll explore the island by bicycle, along Acadia’s famous carriage roads. Built originally for horse-drawn carriages, this 45-mile network of scenic roads is a great way to explore the national park and its granite hills rising above the Atlantic. We’ll end our adventure with a challenging ride to the top of Cadillac Mountain.
Days 19 & 20: Trip End in Portland
From Acadia we’ll drive to Portland, Maine, for a celebratory dinner before our final farewells.
18 nights of frontcountry camping. Campground facilities will have bathrooms and hot water. Many facilities will have showers and laundry.
1 night in a hostel in Nova Scotia. The hostel is a dormitory style accommodation with access to showers and laundry. The rooms are divided by gender.
Things to know
- We travel light on Overland trips; please only bring items on your packing list.
- Your group will have access to laundry periodically.
- Please do not bring any electronics (including your cell phone). See FAQs for more information on our cell phone and electronics policy.
- Do not bring any type of knife or multi-tool (such as a Swiss Army knife or Leatherman tool).
- A high-visibility outer layer is required at all times while biking. See packing descriptions for more details.
- If you are flying to your trip start, pack your sleeping pad and bike shoes in your bike box or checked bag. Take your helmet and sleeping bag with you on the plane as carry-on items, in case your checked luggage fails to arrive on time. Pack all remaining items in your checked duffel bag or in your checked panniers. You can tape or strap your panniers together to check them as one piece of luggage; see luggage description for more details.
- Please wear the navy Overland shirt that you will receive from the Overland office to your trip start location.
- Medium-Sized Duffel Bag or Pair of Panniers
Panniers are saddlebags sold in pairs that attach to either side of your rear rack. If you are renting panniers from Overland, pack your belongings in a collapsible bag (3,000-5,000 cubic inch/ 50-80 liters). We will have your bag available at the end of the trip for travel home. The cost of renting panniers from Overland is included in a bike rental (or they can be rented separately for $50). If you are bringing your own panniers you will want large panniers, 2,400-3,000 cubic inches (40-50 liters) total, designed for bike touring. One large pannier has internal dimensions of approximately 17" x 13" x 7". You should be able to fit all of your belongings, besides your sleeping bag and pad, into your two panniers and have some space for group gear. If flying to trip start, you can tape your panniers together so that they count as a single piece of checked luggage.
- Navy Overland Shirt (1)
We will send students an Overland shirt prior to their trip, and we encourage students to wear their Overland shirt to trip start. We highly recommend this for students flying to their trip start location.
- Synthetic High-Visibility T-Shirts (3) & Vest (1)
A high-visibility outer layer, preferably a solid color, is required at all times while biking (high-visibility is a neon or fluorescent color, typically yellow, orange or pink). On warm days a high-visibility T-shirt will be sufficient. The vest should be large enough to wear over warm layers while riding on cooler days. Please visit the Overland Store if you need to purchase these items. High-visibility bike jerseys are acceptable but not necessary.
- Shorts for Biking (3)
Synthetic material recommended (some students bring padded, spandex bike shorts but they are not required).
- Shorts (1)
Comfortable shorts to wear around camp.
- T-Shirt (1)
Short-sleeve T-shirt or tank top.
- Fleece Pants (1)
Please do not bring cotton sweatpants (they are heavy and bulky and will not keep you warm if wet).
- Underwear (5)
- Athletic Socks (pair) (4)
- Wool and/or Synthetic Socks (1)
- Swimsuit (optional)
If we swim, many students will wear shorts (and a sports bra for girls).
- Fleece Jacket or Pullover (1)
Medium to heavyweight and reasonably compact.
- Waterproof Raincoat
Waterproof material required (not just water resistant). Choose high-visibility if available (a high-visibility outer layer is required at all times while riding; if your raincoat is not hi-vis then you'll have to wear a hi-vis vest over your raincoat when riding). Raincoats provide protection from wind and rain and serve as an extra warm layer. Your jacket should be large enough to allow layers underneath. We recommend hoods and breathable materials. Gore-Tex is a well-known waterproof and breathable fabric, but there are many other quality fabrics. Ponchos are not acceptable.
- Waterproof Rain Pants (optional)
Waterproof material required (not just water resistant). Rain pants provide protection from wind and rain and serve as an extra warm layer.
- Sleeping Bag
A lightweight, compact sleeping bag rated to 30 degrees Fahrenheit or less. We recommend either synthetic or treated down material. Your sleeping bag should compress into a stuff sack no larger than 20" in length.
- Sleeping Pad
Full- or ¾-length compact sleeping pad. We recommend closed cell foam that is thin and firm (e.g., RidgeRest) or self-inflating (e.g., Therm-a-Rest).
- Bowl, Mug & Utensils
6" to 8" plastic dish or bowl with top, insulated plastic mug, spoon, fork and knife. These don't need to be special camping utensils (a Tupperware dish and regular utensils are fine).
- Headlamp & Extra Batteries
- Water Bottle
A 24-ounce bike bottle is ideal (but a smaller size is acceptable). Overland will provide a second water bottle on arrival.
- Hydration System (optional)
A small backpack with a bladder inside (e.g., CamelBak or Platypus) works well. If you bring a backpack, it must be a high-visibility color; if the bag is not hi-vis, you must cover it with hi-vis fabric or tape. The backpack should be designed primarily to carry water (if it is too big or filled with other items, it will be uncomfortable to wear all day).
- Touring Bicycle & Rear Rack
You may choose to rent a bicycle and rear rack from Overland to use during your trip or you can bring your own. Please note: the American Challenge, European Challenge and Canadian Rockies & Montana 2-week require specific bikes--keep this in mind if you are buying a new bike now and plan on doing one of these trips in a future summer. Please see the Right Bicycle for Your Overland Trip for more information about acceptable bikes and traveling with your bike.
- Bungee Cords
These should be 18-24" in length. Bungee cords are included with an Overland bike rental.
- Bike Helmet
If you are flying to trip start, carry your helmet on the plane with you.
- Rear Bike Light
A rear bike light is required when riding in low light conditions. The light should be battery powered with a variety of mounting options (clipping on to a pannier or a rear rack, for example). The Portland Design Works Radbot 1000 and the Planet Bike LED Superflash turbo are two examples of bike taillights. Even if you are renting your bike from Overland this summer you will need to supply your own light for your bike.
- Spare Bike Tubes (1)
Spare tube that matches your bike's tire size. All Overland rental bikes come with spare tubes.
- Water Bottle Cages
Attached to the bike frame. Some smaller-sized bike frames cannot accommodate two cages. If this is the case, you will be able to strap additional water bottles to your rack with your other gear. All Overland rental bikes come with two water bottle cages.
- Shoes for Biking (pair)
You may ride in running shoes with flat pedals or bring bike touring or mountain biking shoes with bottom treads and "clipless" recessed cleats. The bikes we rent come with flat pedals appropriate for biking in running shoes. If you wish to ride in biking shoes, you will need to bring your own "clipless" pedals. A popular style of clipless shoes and pedals are SPDs. Please do not bring racing shoes since they have hard soles that are uncomfortable to walk in.
- Water Shoes
Closed-toed sport sandals, water shoes or old sneakers to wear on the water. Sandals must have a heel strap for activities such as kayaking, rafting or canoeing (flip flops and Crocs are not acceptable).
A passport that is valid until at least six months after your trip end date
- Passport Photocopies
Make at least four photocopies of your passport and visa (if applicable). Leave one copy with your family and put photocopies in both your checked luggage and carry-on luggage for the flight, separate from your original documents.
- Photo Identification
A current school or other kind of photo identification (if you have one).
- Unaccompanied Minor Fee Receipt (if applicable)
For students travelling as Unaccompanied Minors, please print a copy of the UAM fee receipt for your child's leaders to keep on file.
- Baggage Fee Receipt (if applicable)
Some airlines allow passengers to input credit card information to cover checked bag service charges when checking in online prior to the trip. To reduce hassle at the airport, we encourage you to pay for checked baggage beforehand and supply your child with a copy of the receipt for his or her leaders to keep on file.
- Synthetic Camping Towel (1)
A medium-size synthetic camping towel (synthetic camping towels dry much faster than regular towels).
- Gallon Sized Ziploc Bags (10)
To organize and waterproof your gear and small items.
- Large Trash Bags (5)
To waterproof your gear.
All items should be travel size (if necessary, you will be able to restock during the trip).
Polarized sunglasses that wrap around to protect from glare are ideal.
- Sunscreen (SPF 15+) & Chapstick (with SPF protection)
- Insect Repellent
- Personal Journal or Book (optional)
- Camera, Charger & Extra Batteries (optional)
A digital or disposable camera and, if necessary, a charger and large enough memory card to accommodate your pictures (4 to 8 GB).
- Spending Money
$30 per week in cash or a debit/ATM card.
- Health Insurance Card
Please bring an original or copy of your health insurance card.
- What is the weather like on Nova Scotia & Acadia?
The weather on Nova Scotia & Acadia varies. Sometimes it is sunny and warm, other times it is rainy and cold; in both New England and Nova Scotia average summer temperatures range from the 50s to 80s and may be cooler at night. Our packing list takes these variables into consideration. Layering is the best strategy. Please follow the packing list, paying close attention to rain gear specifications.
- What are the arrival and departure airports for my child’s trip?
You will need to arrange transportation for your child to and from Portland International Jetport (PWM). We will provide more specific travel information once we have placed your child on a program.
- How often will my child have access to showers and laundry?
While we have regular access to showers, most students will shower once or twice a week. Groups will do laundry once a week.
- Please tell me about the currency on this trip.
Canada uses the Canadian Dollar (Can$). Some US banks may be able to order Canadian dollars. Students can exchange money in airports throughout the US, or leaders can help students withdraw Canadian Dollars using a debit card or exchange US dollars upon arrival in Canada.
- Please tell me about safety at Overland.
Safety and risk management are at the forefront of our decision-making–from trip planning to leader training to supporting our groups in the field. We cannot guarantee absolute safety–no program can. All recreational activities include inherent and other risks. Therefore, we strive to manage the risks that we can, knowing we cannot eliminate them. We work hard to recruit, train and support our trip leaders so they can create the kind of trips that have made us successful for over 30 years. Please click here to read more about our approach to risk management and our accreditation by the American Camp Association.
- Does my child need to have previous experience?
While no previous experience is required, we have high expectations of our students. We expect your child–with your help–to select a trip that is appropriate for his or her interests and abilities. You should spend some time familiarizing yourself with the details of the specific program and help your child understand what to expect. We also expect our students to prepare ahead of time: to review the packing list, gather clothing and gear and complete whatever training the trip requires (for recommended training please see the Before You Go tab). Once the trip begins, your child should be ready–and excited–to contribute to a wholesome and enthusiastic group where each group member feels welcomed and valued.
- Please tell me about Overland's admissions process.
For more information, and to access our application, please visit our Apply page.
When we receive child’s application, if the first choice is available, you will receive a phone call and an email containing a link to our Overland Portal where you will find our Admissions Review Forms. We will accept your deposit to hold your child’s place in the program pending a favorable Admissions Review. If the first choice is not available, we will call you to confirm that the second choice is acceptable. If neither the first choice nor second choice are available, we will call you to discuss options. For those students placed on our waitlist, we will notify you as soon as a spot becomes available.
We seek to admit students who have demonstrated that they possess the personal qualities and experience necessary to succeed on an Overland trip. While Overland is always supportive and nurturing, an Overland program is unlike a traditional camp in that our small groups–12 students and 2 leaders–travel, live and work as a group, making all of their own meals, helping each other and cooperating in ways big and small, and they do all of this far from home. As a result, every student must be able to thrive in an environment that places equal emphasis on:
- 1. Teamwork and Shared Responsibilities.
- 2. Independence and Self-Reliance.
- 3. Support of Others and Consideration for Others.
- What are Overland’s policies on phones, electronics and communication?
To maximize independence and self-reliance, we do not permit phone calls, emails or text messages to or from our campers (the exceptions to this are: your child will call home on arrival and departure with our phones and assistance, and in the case of an emergency). If your child brings a phone for use while en route to Overland, please do not send him or her with an expensive smartphone; instead bring an inexpensive prepaid cell phone. All phones will be collected on arrival and returned at departure. While we will take reasonable steps to prevent damage, theft or loss to phones, we take no responsibility for phones and we will not make any reimbursements for lost, damaged or stolen phones.
Cameras are welcome but please do not bring any other electronics (e.g., iPods, iPads, Kindles or other readers, GPS or similar devices). All electronics (except cameras) will be mailed home on arrival (at your risk and expense).
We are committed to providing extraordinary support to you and your child; to that end, the Overland office is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. seven days a week during the summer (outside of office hours our answering service provides emergency coverage). Our leaders in the field are in touch with our office regularly; they carry cell phones (and in some cases satellite phones). Anytime a camper is treated for an injury or illness by a doctor or medical personnel, parents are notified by our office. A director will call the parents to explain the nature of the injury or illness, the sequence of events leading up to the injury and/or the steps leading to the treatment. Parents are typically able to speak with the medical personnel, with the leaders and with their child.
Bike and sea kayak in Nova Scotia and Acadia.
Students going on Nova Scotia & Acadia should prepare for:
- 14 days of biking with an average of 35 miles per day
- Travel to and from the trip
- An Overland experience
We expect you to arrive to your trip fully prepared for all activities.
Preparing for Biking
Daily rides on Nova Scotia & Acadia average 35 miles over varying terrain. Five days are around 45 miles and the longest day is 55 to 65 miles (the exact mileage may vary by group).
Overland bicycle tours are self-contained—there is no van support. You will carry all of your belongings, plus some group gear and food, on a sturdy rack mounted over the back wheel of your bike. You will hang panniers (these are saddlebags, pronounced “pan-yers”) off the rack and attach gear like your sleeping bag and sleeping pad to the top of the rack using bungee cords. On average, you will carry between 30 and 40 pounds of equipment on your bike (not including the weight of your bike).
Nova Scotia & Acadia is designed to be a cooperative, non-competitive, group activity where everyone contributes and helps one another. While there is always a range of physical ability and fitness in each group, it's important that you follow our training schedule and that you take the time to gain confidence on a bike—mounting and dismounting, shifting gears, braking and making turns. We expect you to prepare adequately so you can keep up physically and participate in all of your group’s activities.
Responsible Riding Practices
In addition to building your fitness and familiarity with bicycling, preparation for Nova Scotia & Acadia includes increasing your awareness of responsible riding practices. Your Overland leaders will review safety practices and reinforce responsible riding at trip start and each day of riding.
The following guidelines have been developed by the League of American Bicyclists to help manage the risks associated with biking on roads; however, managing risks does not eliminate them. We encourage you to follow these guidelines when training for your trip, and we also encourage you to consult with local bike shops for route and riding advice.
FOLLOW THE LAW
You have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers. Obey traffic signals and stop signs. Ride with traffic; use the rightmost lane headed in the direction you are going.
Make your intentions clear to everyone on the road. Ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between parked cars. Signal turns, and check behind you well before turning or changing lanes.
Ride where people can see you and wear bright clothing. Use a front white light, red rear light and reflectors when visibility is poor. Make eye contact with others and don’t ride on sidewalks. When possible, ride with others; do not ride alone.
Watch for turning vehicles and ride outside the door zone of parked cars. Look out for debris, potholes, and other road hazards. Cross railroad tracks at right angles.
Check that your tires are sufficiently inflated, brakes are working, chain runs smoothly, and quick release levers are closed. Carry tools and supplies that are appropriate for your ride. Wear a helmet.
Adapted from “Rules of the Road,” http://www.bikeleague.org/.
- 4 weeks before your trip: two rides of 8 to 12 miles.
- 3 weeks before your trip: one ride of 8 to 12 miles and one ride of at least 20 miles.
- 2 weeks before your trip: two rides of at least 20 miles.
- 1 week before your trip: two rides of at least 20 miles. A good goal to work towards is being able to complete these rides without prolonged breaks.
Groups typically average between 8 and 12 miles per hour while riding (although pace varies by group). You will take multiple breaks throughout the day—for water, snacks, lunch, to adjust panniers, etc.
Preparing for Travel to and from the Trip
Families are responsible for arranging flights to and from the designated airport during a specified window (please do not purchase flights until you have received an email confirming our review of your health forms and school reference). Overland staff will be at the airport to welcome you at the start of your trip and to assist with your departure. You may also be dropped off and picked up at the airport. If you are flying to and from your trip, we will have you call home upon arrival and before departure. We will provide more specific travel information once we have placed you on a program.
Preparing for an Overland Experience
Overland programs are wholesome, structured experiences with high expectations of each student’s behavior. You are expected to be supportive of your trip mates and your leaders, enthusiastic, positive and helpful. We ask that you leave your cell phone and electronics at home (cameras are always welcome), so you can fully engage with your group and your trip. You will have the opportunity to send letters and receive mail at designated mail stops, which are shared in the spring.
All trips have a range of challenges. You should come prepared and recognize that some days will be more difficult, more challenging and longer – both in terms of miles and hours on the bike - than others. Delays occur due to a wide range of variables beyond the control of you, your group or your leaders. Weather patterns change and road conditions vary. You, or someone in your group, might get a flat tire or encounter another issue that could delay your group. On some days your group will arrive in to camp in the early afternoon, with plenty of time to explore, play games or go swimming, while on other days your group will spend more time on the bike.
Arriving ready for a challenge—and prepared to contribute to an enthusiastic group—will go a long way toward creating a successful trip. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss preparing for your Overland program.