Nova Scotia & Acadia

Canada’s maritime province of Nova Scotia offers picturesque shorelines, charming harbors and friendly people. Maine’s Acadia National Park boasts similar delights: waves crashing into rocky coves, lobster boats in morning mist, gulls overhead and seals in the distance. Come explore these extraordinary destinations by bicycle on Nova Scotia & Acadia.

Overview Details Itinerary What to Pack FAQs Before You Go

Overview

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.

Questions? Contact us!

Kate’s leaders left a lasting impact on our daughter; she had the best summer of her life. They were phenomenal leaders, and we can’t thank them enough.


- Stephanie Swenson, East Milton, Massachusetts

A Beautiful Ride That’s Close To Home But Feels Far Away!

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.

 

ACCOMMODATIONS

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.

Itinerary may vary by group and is subject to change.
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Luggage

  • 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.

Clothing

  • Navy Overland T-Shirt (1)
    We will send every student an Overland T-shirt prior to the trip. Please wear this T-shirt to trip start.
  • Synthetic High-Visibility T-Shirts (3) & Vest (1)
    A high-visibility outer layer 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)
  • 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 (4)
  • Wool and/or Synthetic Socks (1)
  • Swimsuit (optional)
    If we swim, many students will wear shorts (and a sports bra for girls).

Outer Layers

  • Fleece Jacket or Pullover (1)
  • Waterproof Raincoat
    Choose high-visibility if available.
  • 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.

General Gear

  • 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
    ¾-length or full-length closed cell foam (thin and firm) or self-inflating.
  • 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
  • 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).

Bike Gear

  • 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—both when you train in the spring and once you are on your Overland trip in the summer. The light can be USB or battery powered with a variety of mounting options (clipping on to a pannier or a rear rack, for example). There are a wide range of bike lights available; we recommend the Bontrager Flare R or Flare RT, which are available from Trek bike dealers and on the Trek website. Note: if you are renting a bike from Overland this summer, please bring your bike light (your leaders will help you mount it on your rental 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
    Two 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 carry water bottles in your panniers or on your rack. All Overland rental bikes come with two water bottle cages.

Footwear

  • Shoes for Biking
    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).

Miscellaneous

  • 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.
  • Travel Size Toiletries
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen (SPF 15+) & Chapstick (with SPF protection)
  • Insect Repellent
  • Personal Journal or Book (optional)
  • Camera, Charger & Extra Batteries (optional)
    A digital or disposable camera.

Important Documents

  • Health Insurance Card
    Please bring an original or copy of your health insurance card.
  • Passport
    Please bring 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.

Spending Money

  • Spending Money & Miscellaneous Expenses
    Each student should bring a debit card, an ATM card or a prepaid Visa card to cover spending money and miscellaneous expenses. Spending Money: While all meals and activities are included in the trip fee, we recommend $25/week for spending money (for example: for souvenirs or an occasional drink or snack beyond what is provided to the group as a whole). Miscellaneous Expenses: Most Overland students will incur some expenses while traveling (for example: an equipment repair or baggage fees at trip end). Please add $100 to the debit/ATM/Visa card (in addition to spending money), to cover these expenses.

Things to know

  • We travel light at Overland; please only bring the items on your packing list.
  • Your group will have access to laundry periodically.
  • Please do not bring your smart phone (or any other electronics).
    Please visit the FAQ tab 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 T-shirt that you receive from Overland to your trip start location.
  • What is the weather like on Nova Scotia & Acadia?

    You can expect typical summery weather with lots of sunshine, some rain, warm days and cool nights.

  • What are the arrival and departure airports for my child’s trip?

    You will need to arrange transportation to and from Portland International Jetport (PWM). We will provide more specific travel information once we have placed you on a trip.

  • How often will my child have access to showers and laundry?

    The Nova Scotia & Acadia route offers frequent (but not daily) access to showers. Most groups do laundry once a week.

  • 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 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 trip 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.

    When we receive your application, if your first choice is available, we will: (1) call you to acknowledge our receipt of your application, (2) send you an email with a link to our Admissions Review Forms, and (3) charge a deposit of $795 to your credit card to hold your place in the trip pending a favorable admissions review. If your first choice is not available, we will call you to discuss your second choice, third choice or other options. For more information, and to access our application, please visit our Apply page.

  • What are Overland’s policies on phones, electronics and communication?

    PHONES
    To maximize independence and self-reliance, we do not permit phone calls, emails or text messages to or from our campers. 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 an expensive smartphone, instead, an inexpensive prepaid cell phone will do. All phones will be collected on arrival and returned at departure. While we will take reasonable steps to prevent damage, theft or loss, we take no responsibility for phones and we will not make any reimbursements for lost, damaged or stolen phones.

     

    ELECTRONICS
    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).

     

    COMMUNICATION
    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 other 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.

  • Can I send mail to my child during a trip?

    Getting a letter, card or postcard while on an Overland trip is always exciting. Please keep in mind that sending mail to your child on an Overland trip is different than sending mail to camp because your child will be on the move. Our experience has been that mail often does not arrive on time, and, sometimes, even when it does, post offices, campgrounds and other mail stops do not reliably deliver mail to our groups. For these reasons:

     

    1. Please do not send anything valuable – please send letters, cards or postcards only.  If mail is late, lost or misdirected, Overland’s leaders and staff are not able to return to the post office (or other mail stop) to collect it.

    2. Please use the US Postal Service first-class mail only; do not use UPS, FedEx or DHL (many of our mail stops accept US Postal Service mail only).

    3. Please do not send overnight letters: many overnighted letters arrive before or after we arrive and are then sent back. For this same reason, please do not send mail that requires a signature upon delivery.

    4. Please allow one week for postal delivery to U.S. mail stops.

    5. Please allow two weeks for postal delivery to international mail stops.

Bike and sea kayak in Nova Scotia and Acadia!

Students going on Nova Scotia & Acadia should prepare for:

  • Full days of outdoor activities led by two caring Overland leaders
  • Camping out and cooking meals as a group
  • 14 days of biking with an average of 35 miles per day
  • A fun, supportive and wholesome Overland experience

We expect you to arrive to your trip fully prepared for all activities.

Preparing for the Biking

Daily rides on Nova Scotia & Acadia average 35 miles over varying terrain. Five days are approximately 45 miles and the longest day is in the 55 to 65 mile range.

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 about 40 pounds of equipment on your bike (not including the weight of the bike).

You should come prepared and recognize that some days will be more challenging and longer than others. Delays occur due to a wide range of variables—weather patterns change and road conditions vary. You, or someone in your group, might get a flat tire or encounter another mechanical issue that could delay your group. On some days your group will arrive at 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.

Every Nova Scotia & Acadia participant should complete all of the spring training rides, and, once on the trip, must be able to maintain 10 mph over challenging terrain on a fully loaded bicycle. Please keep the following responsible riding practices in mind as you complete your spring training rides.

Responsible riding practices

WEAR A HELMET AND CLOSED-TOED SHOES
Always, no exceptions.

DESIGN A GOOD TRAINING LOOP
To the extent possible, ride on bike paths, bike lanes, and bike routes.

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.

BE PREDICTABLE 
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 before turning or changing lanes.

BE VISIBLE
Ride where people can see you and wear a hi-vis top. Ride with your rear light on and flashing. Make eye contact with others and don’t ride on sidewalks. When possible, ride with others.

THINK AHEAD
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.

RIDE READY
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.

Pre-trip Training:

  • 4 weeks before your trip: one ride of 6 to 8 miles and a second ride of 8 to 10 miles.
  • 3 weeks before your trip: one ride of 8 to 10 miles and a second ride of 10 to 12 miles.
  • 2 weeks before your trip: one ride of 10 to 12 miles and a second ride of 12 to 14 miles.
  • 1 week before your trip: one ride of 12 to 14 miles and a second ride of 14 to 16 miles.

All training rides should be at an average speed of between 10 to 12 miles per hour. Once on the trip, you and your group will take multiple short breaks throughout the day—for water and snacks, to stretch and rest, to relax and enjoy the view!

Preparing for an Overland Experience

Overland trips are wholesome, structured experiences with high expectations of each student’s behavior. You are expected to be enthusiastic, positive, helpful and supportive of your trip mates and your leaders. 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. 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 trip!