Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hiking Cape Breton Highlands NP

We set out on our first day of exploration to drive the Cabot Trail around to the Acadian town of Cheticamp on the west side of the park, and to hike the Skyline Trail, which was on our way. The Skyline Trail was described as one of the best hikes in Nova Scotia.

When we started out that morning, the weather at our campground was cloudy, with a high probability of rain, but we had been told that the weather can vary dramatically from east to west in the park. We decided to be flexible and came prepared to hike, or to just come back another day, if necessary. As we drove around the Cabot Trail Road and enjoyed the overlooks, we were encouraged to see sunshine peaking out. However, we were a bit concerned about the wind, which was gusting strongly. When we came to the Skyline trail head, the weather looked promising…at least for the couple of hours that this hike would take.

We did not know what to expect with this trail…..our last ridge trail (in New Hampshire) had been quite challenging. The description of the Skyline trail stated that it was about 4.5 miles and 2-3 hours round trip, mostly level, not much elevation change, and indicated that it was OK for all abilities…in other words, easy.


I really could not believe how nice a trail this was. Gravel topped trail wide enough for two people all the way! It reminded us of the Carriage Roads of Acadia NP.


Good trail….. interesting flowers….I am not sure what kind of plant the one on the right is…some kind of bog plant…..


Then, the trail opened out of the woods to a view of the ocean……


And a ridge point extending waaay out there……. We were not headed all the way out to the point, fortunately.  The wind was still gusting strongly enough to feel like it could blow us over!


We had these wonderful steps….and, bracing with each gust of wind, we made our way down.


There were platforms at each level with benches to sit on ……


To take in the view and gaze out on the ocean…….


We kept our eyes open and saw a couple of whales far below us. I did not even try to get pictures….we were 1,300 ft up. We sat for a while before it was time to head back….


An easy return hike brought us to our car. We felt stretched out and good from the exercise, and exhilarated from the view. More than satisfied with the morning…….

The next day, our travels took us by several short trails that led to waterfalls, the McIntosh Brook Trail and The Mary Ann Falls. Flowing water has a certain appeal that makes a hike more interesting…….The way it sparkles in the sunshine…..


The sound of water pouring over rocks…….


Cascading down………


Or flowing quietly along……


Until it plunges over the edge……


The power of water captures us…….


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