The North River is well known as a regional recreation destination, for both anglers and hikers, with a small provincial picnic park providing access to the river and the wilderness area. In addition to providing opportunities for wilderness recreation, North River Wilderness Area protects outstanding examples of geological, fluvial and ecological processes.
Mature deciduous forest ecosystems are found along the lower valley slopes, while cooler spots near the river support an old-growth forest of pure hemlock. At the Oregon site (recognized by the International Biological Program), ages range from regenerating seedlings to mature trees of over 190 years, with individuals reaching ages of over 250 year near the river.
Salmon in the North River represent one of the few healthy and self-sustaining early-run sea winter stocks remaining in Nova Scotia. This is because the river contains gravel spawning beds, deep holding pools, and the cold water conditions required by salmon.
Hiking is the primary river travel activity associated with the North River corridor. Trails along the river have been used by generations of anglers travelling up and down the river to popular salmon pools. These paths which meander beside the river, continue for several kilometres and pass through fascinating river-side habitats and forests. The trails also provide scenic views of waterfalls, pools, and the steep slopes of the canyon ecosystem. A well-established trail also follows the canyon to the base of North River Falls, which at over 32m is reputed to be the highest in the province. Other, less established, hiking opportunities are found in the south west of the area, where a day hike to the top of Bald Mountain is rewarded with a stunning view of the surrounding countryside.