From Baddeck it was easy to access the “Cabot Trail”, a scenic highway that hugs the shoreline of the Cape Breton peninsula. We left in the morning and drove all the way to the Eastern entrance of the national park, only stopping a few times to take in the spectacular scenery. The road leads almost 300km through the “Cape Breton Highlands” and some people do it in one day. We decided to take two full days to be able to do some hiking as well.
After a picnic outside the lighthouse at Neil’s Harbour we parked the car and followed the signs for the “Coastal Trail”. We had specifically asked for a trail that would allow us to take in the beautiful coastline from up close. But after the first 2km we felt that the name was a bit misleading, as we had only been walking through a thick forest filled with agressive mosquitoes and horse flies.
Luckily it didn’t last much longer after that and soon enough we reached the shore, where a slight breeze was strong enough to keep the bugs away. We followed the shore and watched the blue waves crashing into the steep cliffs or running up boulder beaches. We were only missing the whales, but we were planning on going whale watching tour at the northern end of the peninsula.
After a successful hitchhike back to our car we followed the road up north to Meat Cove, where we had managed to get one of the last cabins at this remote campground. The brochure promises a 95% chance for whale sightings, which is probably the reason why most regular campsites (non-reserveable) are already occupied around midday. We enjoyed our dinner with a spectacular view of the ocean and watched the sunset from a hilltop nearby.
The next morning we finally went for a whale watching tour. But despite the almost perfect conditions with calm and clear water, we didn’t manage to spot a single one during the three hours on the water. Instead we got a nice view of the rugged coastline and saw several seals, which were clearly not as impressive as the kings of the ocean that we had hoped to see. A little bit disappointed we left the bay and headed back to the “Cabot Trail”.
At “Cabot’s Landing Provincial Park” we found a great lunch spot, which almost made up for the lack of whales: It was a picnic table overlooking a fine sandy beach with large waves rolling in. It was so warm and sunny that Maren and I decided to take a dip in the cool water. For Raghu it was a bit too cold, so he just watched us going up and down with the waves. Completely sun-dried we continue inland across the highlands to the east side of the Cape Breton peninsula.
Here, one of the highlights was waiting for us: The”Skyline Trail”. It leads through an open forest, where the abundance of moose have prevented the forest to regrow. Despite the numbers we hadn’t seen a single one of these majestic animals, but we were hopeful, as a moose had been spotted just before. And when we got there, it was still standing a mere ten meters off the trail! It didn’t move as it seemed to protect its baby, so we moved on after taking our pictures.
The trail led to the edge of the highlands plateau from where we had a fantastic view of the ocean. Off in the distance we could make out the “Cabot Trail” as it was winding its way down on the mountain slopes. A little bit later we were following that same road again and encountered another moose at a lake next to the road. We even watched it swimming across! After the disappointing start to the day it had still turned out to be a memorable one!