Welcome to the forum!
It's great that you have an interest in some recreational panning. There are a lot of places in NS to do so.
The best place to get more information on areas to go and more importantly the legalities
of the activity, is the following:http://novascotia.ca/natr/meb/
- This is the Department of Mines Branch website for Nova Scotia. It has links to tons of material, maps and information. It would take you several years if you are a fast reader to get through all the information that is stored there.
One good pamphlet you SHOULD READ FIRST
is the following: http://novascotia.ca/natr/meb/data/pubs/ic/ic02.pdf
- It explains that there are mineral rights, what the legal requirements are, that you need landowner permission BUT if you are just starting out, you need to know if the place you are wanting to try panning has current mineral claims held by someone.
In the area you mentioned, generally that area is currently staked by several people. So in this case, to legally pan that area, you would need to contact the claimholder and also the landowner in order to get permission to pan on those claimed areas.
Another great resource for newcomers for information, etc is the Nova Scotia Prospectors Association: http://www.prospectors.ns.ca/
They have outings, talks, have monthly meetings (none in June-Aug) and also a yearly panning 'clinic' where you can go and learn how to do basic panning.
I think there is a panning clinic coming up in May. Check out the website for details.
I hope that being a newbie, this information helps you out a bit.
p.s. I will attach a map of the Gold River area you mentioned, so you can see that the good areas are all staked at the present time.