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


Protected Areas


South Panuke Wilderness Area

South Panuke Wilderness Area South Panuke Wilderness Area extends from Highway 103, near Chester, north, to Panuke Lake.

This wilderness area protects a natural corridor for wildlife movement between central and western Nova Scotia. At nearly 30 km in length, Panuke Lake cuts across much of the province. Panuke Lake and developed lands north of the lake (Windsor to Ellershouse) create a barrier to terrestrial wildlife movement between central and western Nova Scotia. By protecting lands south of Panuke Lake, this wilderness area maintains a biodiversity “land bridge” that helps keep western Nova Scotia ecologically connected to the rest of the province. Wide ranging species, such as endangered mainland moose and pine marten, will benefit from a protected natural corridor.

The terrain of this wilderness area is generally rugged with hills, ridges, and hummocks. Mature red spruce is widespread, sometimes mixed with hemlock or white pine. Black spruce occurs on poorly drained sites. Parts of the southern portion of the wilderness area were logged in recent years, while the northern portion is largely older forest. As a whole, this area offers a good opportunity to restore a regionally significant and relatively large patch of older forest in the midst of an ecologically fragmented landscape.

South Panuke Wilderness Area protects significant portions of the Canaan and East River watersheds, including lake and stream habitat for brook trout and potential Atlantic salmon recovery. It also fills a significant gap in representation of the South Mountain Rolling Plain natural landscape in the provincial protected areas network.

These lands are part of a traditional Mi’kmaq travel route between the Bay of Fundy and Atlantic coast. The area continues to be used for hunting and fishing today. Visitors can still follow traditional canoe routes and old portages, and overnight at secluded beach campsites. Much of the area is accessible from major forestry roads, as well as the Chester Connection Rails-to-Trails.

The boat launches at the southern ends of Timber, Panuke and Connaught lakes may be accessed by vehicle. Neither these lakes or the roads to these boat launches are part of the wilderness area, so activities here are not regulated by the Wilderness Areas Protection Act.

A 7 km section of off-highway vehicle trail passes through the wilderness area, along old forest access roads between Canaan and Timber Lake. This section of trail is managed by the All-terrain Vehicle Association of Nova Scotia (ATVANS) under an agreement with Nova Scotia Environment. Bicycle use is also permitted on this trail.

One Crown campsite lease is lcoated within the wilderness area.

A transmission line operated by Nova Scotia Power Inc. just north of Highway 103 is not within the wilderness area.