Government of Nova Scotia Government of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia, Canada


Protected Areas


Eigg Mountain - James River Wilderness Area

Spirit of the Deep Forest

Eigg Mountain-James River Wilderness Area is located in the Pictou-Antigonish Hills, about 10 km northwest of the town of Antigonish. It was designated in 2005 and expanded in 2007, 2015, and again in 2022. The wilderness area protects more than 7,600 hectares of exceptional upland forests.

The upland, rolling hills are dissected by steep ravines and gullies typical of the Pictou-Antigonish Hills natural landscape. With its combination of well-drained, tolerant hardwood forests, mixed forest canyons, rich forested flood plains and productive wetlands, this wilderness area protects the largest remaining patch of older, contiguous forest in this part of Nova Scotia.

The relatively undisturbed woodlands support a diversity of ecosystems, plants and animals. Habitat is suitable for species like goshawk and endangered mainland moose. Atlantic salmon spawn in the headwaters of several rivers within the wilderness area.

Most of the Town of Antigonish’s James River Watershed Protected Water Area which supplies the Town with drinking water, is within the wilderness area. A substantial part of this catchment is owned by the Town of Antigonish. Most of the Town’s land (1,361 hectares) was designated as wilderness area in 2007, at the Town’s request. A license issued by the Province enables the Town to undertake waterworks-related activities within the provincially owned portions of the watershed. The overlapping wilderness area designation strengthens the Town’s efforts to protect their drinking water. For more information on the James River Watershed Protected Water Area please contact the Town of Antigonish.

Wilderness recreation enthusiasts will find numerous opportunities for day-use or extended backcountry travel in this highly scenic setting. Hiking, backcountry skiing, bird watching and nature viewing are just some of the possibilities. Various portions are suitable for hunting and trapping.

Major forest access roads, also used for snowmobiling, mountain biking, and ATV riding, are not within the wilderness area and remain open for vehicle use. These provide access to the wilderness area from surrounding communities such as Marshy Hope, Pleasant Valley and Ardness.

Several sections of off-highway vehicle (OHV) routes within the wilderness area are managed by the Snowmobilers Association of Nova Scotia (SANS) and All-terrain Vehicle Association of Nova Scotia (ATVANS) under agreements with Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change. This includes a section of route 715A and several routes in the northeastern portion of the wilderness area.

Bicycle use is permitted on the routes managed by ATVANS. These routes, together with adjacent forest access roads, provide good opportunities for experiencing the wilderness area by bicycle.

One campsite lease is located within the wilderness area.

About 600 m of electrical transmission line passes through the wilderness area near Browns Mountain Road. Nova Scotia Power (NSPI) retains the authority to operate and maintain this transmission line.