Liberty Lake Trail
A Walk in the Woods
The longest, and most challenging hiking
trail at Keji is the Liberty Lake Trail. This hike is
truly a wilderness hiking experience. The terrain has low,
rolling hills, drumlins and eskers, but there are no long or
steep hills. The footing is generally good, but sections
are rock or root strewn. There are two boggy areas and one
river bed area where you can get wet and muddy during wet
weather. The trail is best done over four days and three
The trail roughly follows the park's
boundary to the north, west and south. There are a number
of trail heads from where you can start this wilderness hike.
The first is the parking lot at Big Dam Lake, from where you
will traverse the trail in a counterclockwise direction.
You can also start your hike at the Grafton Lake Parking Lot, or
the Lower Mersey River Parking Lot (at the Eel Weir). From
any of these points, you will traverse the trail in a clockwise
direction. The road from the Grafton Lake Parking Lot ends
at the Lower Mersey River Parking Lot. From late fall to
early spring, this road is gated at the Grafton Lake Parking
Lot. At all other times, this road is gated at the Lower
Mersey River Parking Lot. The trail is 64km long from the Big
Dam Parking Lot to the Grafton Lake Parking Lot, and 56km long
to the Lower Mersey River Parking Lot. Detailed hiking
distances are provided on the
Backcountry Hiking Distances page.
There are eleven wilderness campsites
along the trail. Each site features a metal fire box, a
picnic table, an outhouse, one or more tent pads and firewood.
You must register at the Visitor Centre before doing this hike,
and during the registration process, you will reserve the
campsites you will use.
This preview of the Liberty Lake Trail
starts at the Big Dam Parking Lot, and takes you through to
Campsite #37 on Pebbleloggitch Lake. From there, you hike
on a road to Lower Mersey Parking Lot (19km) or Grafton Lake
Parking Lot (27km).
The photos are by Nancy Spencer. You
can click on any of them to view an enlargement.
On a rainy August day in 1999, we prepare
to start the Liberty Lake Trail at the Big Dam Parking Lot.
Because of the rain, our packs are covered with plastic bags.
Our plan is to spend four days and three nights on the trail.
Since our first hike on this trail twenty years ago, little has
changed. The scenery is just as beautiful, the wilderness
is just as remote and the trail is just as long.
After leaving Big Dam parking Lot, the trail passes through an
open softwood forest along the length of Big Dam Lake. For
the first while, you are on a gravel trail that is part of the
Hemlocks & Hardwoods Trail. There you have boardwalks and
bridges over the wet spots, but that will change.
About half way up Big Dam Lake, you will
pass Campsite #3, on the shore of Big Dam Lake. If the
site is not occupied, this is an excellent resting place.
After Campsite #3, the trail is still in
an open softwood forest and the hiking is good. Along the
entire trail, the way is marked with trail markers on the trees.
These markers are bright orange plastic strips, or yellow metal
triangles. Although the trail is easy to follow at this
point, later on you will need to keep a sharp eye out for the
trail markers so that you do not get off the trail. At the
upper end of Big Dam Lake, the trail will emerge from the forest
on to an old road. Turn right and hike down the road.
Soon, you will come to a fork in the road. Bear left and
go down the hill to the bridge at Thomas Meadow Brook.
From the bridge, you have a beautiful view of Thomas Meadow
Book. This is the first of many scenic views that you will
experience on the hike.
The old road you are on travels across
country from Big Dam Lake to Frozen Ocean Lake. For the
first while, the road is in good condition and the going is
good. Later on, the road is washed out and rocky and the
going gets slower. The road ends at the head of Frozen
Ocean Lake, where you will see a trail junction sign. To
the left is the Channel Lake trail, and just a few meters up
that trail is Campsite #46. The Liberty Lake Trail goes
the other way, to the right.
A few hundred meters from the trail
junction, going right, is a bridge over picturesque Torment
Brook. This cold brook empties into Frozen Ocean Lake just
downstream from the bridge. You will find a nice swimming
hole there, if you can stand the cold water.
A short distance from Torment Brook is
Campsite #45, another good resting spot. The campsite is
part way up the hill from the trail, with a good view of Frozen
Ocean Lake. The trail follows the shores of Frozen Ocean
Lake for most of its length. This section of the trail is
very rocky and can be slippery in wet weather. After
passing Campsite #7, the trail turns right onto an esker that
was part of an old Mi'qmaq portage from the Bear River country
through to Frozen Ocean Lake.
The trail leaves the esker, turning to the
left and goes down the steep side of the esker to Stewart Brook
and Campsite #44.
Campsite #44 is a good stopping point for
the first day. At this point, you will have traveled over
11km. The fast flowing brook is a lovely sound to listen
to while falling asleep in the tent. At Campsite #44, you
have entered the true wilderness portion of Kejimkujik National
Beyond campsite #44, the trail is more
obscure and overgrown. A few minutes above the campsite,
you will pass through the edge of an old growth hemlock forest,
and then will hike through mixed forest for approximately an
hour to Campsite #43 on Innes Brook.
Campsite #43 is another lovely campsite on
the edge of a fast flowing brook. It is another favorite
stopping point for the first night, if you have enough stamina
to get that far (15km).
Innes Brook flows by the campsite, under
the bridge and on downstream to distant Frozen Ocean lake.
From the campsite, you can see, through
the trees, a stillwater on the brook. After leaving
Campsite #43, the trail continues through mixed forest for
approximately one and one-half hours to the Northwest Branch of
the West River.
The bridge over the Northwest Branch is
another excellent resting spot. We always try to make it
our lunch stop. The water rushing under the bridge stirs
up a nice cool breeze and the heavy canopy overhead give a
lovely shade from the sun.
Drinking water on the hike comes primarily
from the fast flowing brooks, and maybe from the lakes. It
is always a good idea to boil or filter the water before
drinking it, to avoid any chance of illness.
Above the Nothwest Branch, the trail goes
on toward Liberty Lake. On this section, you will
encounter the first boggy area where you can get wet and muddy,
unless the weather has been very dry. You will see Little
Liberty Lake through the trees to your left and then you will
see Liberty Lake ahead. At Liberty Lake, the trail turns
to the left and follows the shores of the Lake. Part way
down the lake you will pass a Warden Patrol Cabin (closed to the
public) and a few minutes later, you will arrive at a trail
trail sign, the Liberty Lake Trail carries on straight ahead,
and Campsite #42 is on a short side trail to your right.
Campsite #42 is the most remote wilderness
campsite in Kejimkujik National Park.
It sits on the end of Liberty Lake,
where you have a nice view down the lake.
This campsite is a good stopping place for
your second night. You have now traveled 22.5km.
As night falls, you will be able to watch
a beautiful sunset and watch the moon rise over the lake
After leaving Liberty Lake, the trail runs overland to the West
River. On this section of the trail, you hike through a
meadow on the edge of the West River. Here you may get wet
again, as the meadow is often flooded. Along this section
of the trail, you will be treated to several beautiful views of
the lazy river on your right.
Toward the end of this section, you climb
up on to an esker and hike through another hemlock stand.
To you left, you will see a large bog called Caribou Bog.
Keep your eyes open for a trail sign that marks the junction
with the West River Trail. At the junction, if you go
straight ahead, you will be on the West River Trail, which goes
down to Campsite #22 (about 3 hours away). The Liberty
Lake Trail goes sharp right at the junction and down to side of
the esker to the West River. This is the way you want to
At the West River, there are two
bridges that cross the river and cross Red Brook. This is
another excellent resting place.
The scenery here is magnificent. As
you rest on the first bridge, you are treated with a view of the
stillwaters where Red Brook flows into the West River.
After leaving the bridges, the trail loosely follows Red Brook
all the way through to Big Red Lake. Around the end of Big
Red Lake, you will encounter the second boggy area. Again,
you are likely to get wet and muddy in this section. After
Big Red Lake, you will again see a trail marker sign, where
there is a side trail to the right. This trail takes you
to Campsite #41, about 1km distant. The main trail carries
on, mostly downhill, over another section of rocky trail to
The bridge at Lucifee Brook marks the end
of the wilderness portion of the Liberty Lake trail. From
here to your destination trailhead, you will be hiking on a good
road. This bridge is another great resting stop, with
another scenic brook view. It is also a good place for a
swim. From here, you hike down the road for approximately
an hour and a half to Campsite #37. Sections of the road
are very sandy, and can be hard on the feet.
Campsite #37 is also known as Mason's
Cabin, the only cabin campsite in the park. It sits on the
side of the road, close to Pebbleloggitch Lake. Mason's
Cabin is a popular campsite for the third and final night on the
trail. At this point, you have traveled 37.5km.
From Campsite #37, on your fourth day, you continue to follow
the road to the Peskowesk Lake Parking Lot (11km), the Lower
Mersey River Parking Lot (19km) or the Grafton Lake Parking Lot
(27km). You will have now completed the Liberty Lake Trail.
Don't forget to turn in your backcountry permit at the Visitor
Centre. You can also log your hiking distances for the