Paddle Lunenburg/Queens

Ocean Route 2: Blue Rocks

Record #: LQR0005
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2019
Last Full Update: 19 Mar 2014


Public Bulletin
Neither South Shore nor the Lunenburg-Queens Recreational Coordinators/Directors Association own or control the canoe routes, portages or campsites listed in this guide, and assume no responsibility or liability for the safety of those using the canoe routes, walking the portages, or using the campsites. 
lt is recommended that users approach all canoe routes, portages and campsites in a safe and responsible manner. Conditions can change through fluctuating water levels, natural debris, and logging activity. Arrangements must be made directly with the owners of the portages and campsites. 
South Shore and Lunenburg-Queens Recreational Coordinators/Directors Association are not liable for any errors or omissions in this guide.


Located In South Shore Region
Where To Find Us
Blue Rocks, NS
Areas Served Lunenburg County ; Queens County (NS)


Phone 902-275-3490
Contact Chad Haughn, President, LQRCDA

Description & Services

Information A unique area of slate outcrops, islands, hidden channels and fishing villages that is mostly protected on windy days and ideal for beginners. 
Where: Near Lunenburg 
Skill Level: Beginner to expert 
Time: Day or overnight 
Distance: Loop One: 15 km loop from Stonehurst East to the Rackets return 
Loop Two: 10 km loop from Blue Rocks to East Point return. Many other options 
Click map to enlarge 
This rugged area gets its name from the blue grey colour of the slate. It is broken into hundreds of narrow slate ledges, larger islands with rocky beaches and many long inlets. Some of the bigger islands have tree cover but many are rocky with low vegetation (coastal barrens). This maze makes for infinite paddling possibilities both close to shore and out to islands in more open waters. On days when it is too windy to paddle in other areas, it is usually possible to find a sheltered route here making it a good place for beginners. 
The three villages of Stonehurst, Stonehurst East and Blue Rocks are picturesque and still active fishing communities. The islands near Blue Rocks (Millers, Little East Point and East Point Island) were once settled but now only East Point is used by summer residents. Old foundations, apple trees, fields and grazing sheep can still be seen. 
Loop One - The Rackets 
This route offers a variety of paddling conditions. The sheltered hidden passage through Indian Island Gut to Grandmothers Cove is made for a kayak or canoe and only passable on the high end of the tide. 
You may encounter swells on the paddle out to the Rackets. These islands are rocky but you will find a small sandy beach on most of them if you paddle around. You can get out and stretch your legs on a short hike through the grassy areas. The Rackets are aptly named. As you pass the Upper Rackets, you can’t miss the barking, yelping and splashing of the seals as they leave their rock perches. Go clockwise or counter clockwise on this loop depending on the wind. On your return, explore up Tanner’s Pass into another secluded passageway. 
Loop Two - Blue Rocks 
This was the shooting location of the house scenes for the film Dolores Claiborne. A whale watching tour operates from here. Depart from Blue Rocks and head east out the protected channel to the lighthouse on Tanner Island. The east end of Stony Island has a small stony beach and a good place to swim. 
Heading south, the barren islands of Big Crow and Little Crow have many small beaches and views to the open ocean. You may see seals fishing for dinner near East Point Ledge. Travel around the south end of the island is best done when the wind is northerly. If it is too rough, you can cut west through the East Point Gut. On the north side of the gut is a collapsed homestead where sheep keep the grass cut short and an old well with a red housing. Please respect the privacy of the residents on the south side. 
Water safety notes: (see also Ocean Notes
Winds - Once out of the many protected passages, you may encounter a strong head wind back to your access point. Use the lee shore where possible and island hop. 
Landing spots - Numerous small stony beaches become available at low tide but may be covered at high tide. The jagged slate ledges are tricky to land on. 
Fog - This area forms the southern headland for Mahone Bay and you may find yourself in a foggy maze. Know how to use your compass along with this map. 
Points of Interest 
1 The Upper Rackets - You can see (and hear and smell) dozens of harbour and grey seals on the ledges here. They are curious and will swim close to your boat but are no threat to your safety. 
2 Sacrifice Island - This island apparently was a place of religious ceremony for the Mi’kmaq. According to a story in Birch Bark Tales, a young German girl was taken there and killed by some Mi’kmaq after they murdered her parents. A party lead by a Swiss man was sent to find them. This man had killed a number of Mi’kmaq with a special gun he possessed with a range longer than the natives had experienced. Seeing a light on Sacrifice, his party paddled over. At the centre of the island on a stone altar, a medicine man was about to sacrifice the body of the girl. After a chase and capture, the M’ikmaq explained the ceremony was to destroy the shooting power of the gun. The complete story is told in Birch Bark Tales, Part Four by W.B. Bezanson. (1941) It would be interesting to hear the Mi’kmaq version of this story. 
3 Tanner’s Pass/Back Passage - This long narrow channel completely separates Heckman’s island from the mainland. The tide acts like a moderate river current through here as it changes. It may not be passable near the bridge at low tide. 
4 Tanner Island Lighthouse 
5 East Point Ledge - Seals are often seen feeding this area. Give them a respectful distance. 
6 East Point Gut - A sheltered passage way (see above). 
How to get there 
Take Exit 11 off Highway 103 toward Lunenburg. Turn left at the main intersection before Lunenburg onto Route 332 to Blue Rocks. 
Access Point One - Stonehurst East 
Go past Herring Rock Road in Blue Rocks and turn left past Stand Fast Fittings. About 1.5 km further on, take the right fork where the sign says Stonehurst South (Stonehurst East on the map). At the head of the cove just past a grey house on the left is a slate ramp that provides good access.Limited parking nearby. 
Access Point Two - Blue Rocks 
Turn right onto Herring Rock Road. At the end of this road are numerous small slips. Be careful not to block slips or boats stored on shore when parking. Pleasant Padding is located here and Karl, the proprietor, purchased the slipway that kayakers have always used and is keeping it open to the public. 
Access Point Three - Heckman’s Island Bridge 
Turn left at the sign for Heckman’s Island about two km before Blue Rocks. About three km out this road is the bridge that connects this island to the mainland. Pass over the bridge and park on the right shoulder. A small trail leads to a gentle sloping beach. 
Loop One - Exposed camping on the Rackets. Landing and camping is possible on the west end of Rake and Indian, the north side of Big Chain and the middle of Long Island. Little Duck is also used for camping. 
Loop Two - The owners of Miller, Little East Point and East Point Island are concerned about the destructive potential of fire on an island and no camping or fires are allowed. 
Options: Paddle around Heckman’s Island. Note wind direction in deciding route. 
Ocean Route 5: Lunenburg 
Ocean Route 6: Mahone Bay (via north part of Route 5) 
For more information 
Pleasant Padding 
Topographic map: Lunenburg 21 A/8
Eligibility Ages: 16 year(s) and up 
Children under 16 with adults - please use own discretion depending on skill level

Special Information