Update: Cape Breton & Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is a long, narrow province with a seemingly endless coastline. The larger geographic area is attached to New Brunswick and the rest of the continent, while the northeastern quarter is a separate island. The photo below of the rocky coastline was taken along the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton.

Cape Breton Nova Scotia

We found an interesting contrast between PEI and Nova Scotia. While PEI scenery is dominated by the island's rural roots, its small two-lane highways, and quaint organized tourism, Nova Scotia has more industry, divided highways, and larger commercial ventures. For example, the signage in PEI was clearly restricted in terms of height and consistency, while Nova Scotia was filled with highways and billboards. However once we got to know the province, we found that Nova Scotia is just much larger and diverse. They have a wide range of land forms, both urban and rural areas, and even differences in elevations not found on PEI. Nova Scotia has a focus on tourism, but their organized road tours and tourism opportunities are just more spread out.

We enjoyed our drive up to Cape Breton and wished we had more time to explore some of the little towns such as Baddeck along the way.


The Bridge

The KOA at Seal Island/North Sydney is located at the base of a huge bridge across the Great Bras D'or that connects two islands. It provided a great central location for exploration. We enjoyed watching the huge ships float under the bridge.

Nova Scotia Bridge



We took one trip into Sydney. While waiting for our printing to be done at Staples, we spent some time at the Coles bookstore. We both found some great books by Canadian authors to purchase that we don't see in the US.

We stopped for supper at a wonderful local restaurant called The Cedar House Restaurant and Bakery on Boularderie Island. Larry had fish cakes and Annette had fish sticks. They had fresh rolls and some of the best fresh spring water, we've every tasted. One of Canada's greatest resources is clean water.

Cabot Trail

We took one day to make a quick trip along the Cabot Trail. This 185 mile road loops the northern tip of Cape Breton Island. Work began in 1926 to create the road for tourists, but the road was not totally paved until 1961. The Cape Breton Highlands National Park (366 square miles) lies along the trail and was created in 1936. This area protects both highlands on the island's interior as well as the coastal wilderness.

Cabot Trail is named for the famous explorer John Cabot who arrived on Cape Breton in 1497. Some of the later settlers were refugees after the American Revolution. The British government gave land grants to some people as reward for their loyalty.

Today, the area is a mixture of Scots, Irish, French, and English. It's a popular area of Gaelic culture and holds the International Celtic Colours Festival each October. Next time, we want to stay into fall for this festival.

small ferryFerry

It was a very long day, but a great way to get a feel for the area. We started out by taking the Jeep across the small Englishtown Ferry (photo right). The ferry could only handle about a dozen cars, but it was a very effective way to cut about an hour off our journey.


Leather Shop

As we drove up the road, we saw a sign for a leather shop called Leather Works by John C. Roberts and decided to stop. We often stop at shops with professional looking signs and clear indications that they get lots of business. We enjoy local crafters much more than commercial gift shops. In this case, the small shop was packed and busy. They are known for their leather buckets, belts, bags, and many other items. Leather workers were creating new items in the back room as we explored the shop. We purchased two red leather pillows, a belt for Larry, earrings for Annette, and a couple of other gift items.


We decided that we wanted to find at leaste one geocache in Nova Scotia, so we chose a quick stop at the beginning of our day. We parked at the Nova Scotia Picnic Park north of Indian Brook. After a short hike we reached an overlook where we could see the water. After another quarter mile we reached the Down The Country geocache that was hanging in a tree.

On the way back to the car, we ran into a fellow hiker who waved our attention to a young moose in the creek. Larry tried taking photographs, but it soon ran away through the woods.


Cabot Trail and Cape Breton National Park

After a drive up the coast, we entered the Cape Breton National Park. Our favorite stops were the first few areas along the coast such as the one in the photo below at Lakie's Head.

The bright pink and white rock sparked against the blue water. It included gneiss, quartz, and feldspar. Although there was mist and fog in the air, it was a beautiful site. Larry enjoyed photographing the many sea birds at Green Cove.

Nova Scotia birds

We tried a second geocache at an overlook, but couldn't find it.

One of the highlights of the day was our moose encounter. As we drove down the highway, we spotted the moose at the edge of the woods. We stopped and took photographs and videotape.

Nova Scotia mooseNova Scotia moose


Meat Cove

The hiker we met at the first geocache suggested that we drive all the way to the tip of the island to an area known as Meat Cove. This took us to the area that Cabot first landed hundreds of years ago. The road became more narrow and eventually turned to dirt and gravel.


At the end was a nice view of the ocean. Unfortunately, the area is all privately own and contains big "keep out signs." The local campground owner charges for use of picnic tables and parking, so after a quick stop for photographs we headed back toward the main road around the island.

Meat Cove Nova Scotia

The remote community was interesting, so we might come back sometime and tent camp.



We really enjoyed driving through the small town of Cheticamp at the western entrance to the park. Next time we're planning to stay at the National Park campground nearby; it is a great facility and would be a good camp location. We'd like to spend more time on the western edge of the park that borders the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Cheticamp is an interesting community. During the Acadian Expulsion, a number of French escaped from Nova Scotia to PEI, then crossed to settle in Cheticamp.

On the way home, we stopped by a little soft serve ice cream place. It was interesting because the server would mix vanilla ice cream with dozens of different flavors to come up with interesting flavors. We chose lemon!

The sun is setting; its time to head back to our campground. This day went quickly, but we were able to gain a sense of the Cape Breton area. We will save the rest for our next visit.



Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 9/04.