We arrived at the Cape Breton Highlands National Park campground, in Cheticamp, mid-late afternoon. I was like a kid in a candy store. As soon as we parked the RV I was ready to tour the Cabot Trail. Charlie was tired from driving all day, but he was a sport and hopped in the Jeep’s passenger seat. I happily jumped into the driver’s seat and headed out onto the famous Cabot Trail. The road is mountainous and curvy, meaning it is fun to drive on! The views are breathtakingly beautiful.
Below is a map of Cape Breton. The yellow road is Cabot Trail, a 185 mile loop road.
We found a dead whale not far from the road. It must have washed up recently. The stench was horrible, but Charlie wanted a picture of it. Now every time I see the picture I’m reminded of the smell. Yuck!!
On our first full day in the park the sky was bright blue and the temperature was in the upper 60s so we decided to head up to Meat Cove. This is a rural fishing village on the most northern tip of the island. It was a beautiful drive.
There isn’t much of anything in Meat Cove, except oddly enough, a campground on the edge of a cliff. The owners of the campground have had the land in their family for 8 generations. We were told that at times they have RVs up to 45 ft long make it all the way to Meat Cove. We considered that crazy since the last 5 miles to get there is on a narrow gravel road which skirts the cliff’s edge and has very sharp turns, not to mention that Cabot Trail itself is a challenging drive for a long RV. While chatting with the CG owner I noted how precariously close to the cliff’s edge the camp sites were and asked if they had ever had anybody fall off. She noted that they did in fact have one person who got too drunk and fell to his death. Yikes!
The CG owner mentioned that there was a trail that we could hike which would lead us to the top of the mountain seen in the background of the picture below.
Here are a few pictures of the trail.
The views from the mountain top were phenomenal. To the West of the mountain ridge is the Gulf of St. Lawrence. To the East of the ridge is the North Atlantic Ocean.
In the following picture, if you look closely at the small peninsula in front of the camper, and in front of the Canada flag, you will see a picnic table. That area is a tent site.
Charlie and I walked out onto the peninsula to check it out. The path to the peninsula is very narrow, just wide enough for one person. Once on the peninsula, there is enough room for one tent and picnic table, and not much else. You wouldn’t want to sleep here if you have any history or risk of sleep walking!!!
On the way to Meat Cove we stumbled upon Cabot Landing Provincial Park so we decided to check it out. It turned out to be a beautiful beach park. Here are a couple pictures from that area.
On the way back from Meat Cove we decided to do the Skyline Trail for sunset. This is a 5.7-mile loop hike, which takes you to a gorgeous location for sunset. By the time sunset arrived the winds had picked up and it was freezing on top of the mountain. It was quite an experience though and we were glad we had done it. We headed back down the trail fairly quickly after the sun set since we had over 2 miles to hike back to the car in the dark. We had flashlights, and had to use them near the end of our hike as it was pitch black out.
I was very happy that we had a great first day and was able to experience the Cabot Trail, as the next two days were miserable. We had a lot of rain and fog, which kept us homebound.
On our fourth day in the park we ventured over to the other side of the Park, to Ingonish. That turned out to be a mistake since it was covered in fog. Now, we should have figured this out when we stopped at an overlook on the way there and took the picture below. The side of the island we were on was perfectly clear while the opposite side was covered with clouds! We kept hoping the sky would clear up, but it didn’t. The day wasn’t completely wasted though, as we stopped and took a nice hike along the McIntosh Brook trail to a Waterfall.
We also spotted an Immature Eagle up in a tree and caught him flying away. We learned that Immature, or Juvenile Eagles have dark heads, while adult eagles have white ones. The heads do not turn white until about their 4th year.
On our fifth day we headed back to the other side of the Island. Although the morning was cloudy it was accurately predicted that the day would turn sunny. We left early and headed to Neils Harbour, an hour and half drive away. I had seen some colorful fishing boats that I wanted to get a picture of the day prior. I felt that the composition conveyed a lot about Nova Scotia.
We then continued onward to Ingonish, stopping along the way to take in the scenery.
We also stopped and took a 3-mile hike around Warren Lake. It was quite boring, but at least we got some exercise in after being cooped up in the RV for a couple days.
After a long day of sightseeing we headed back to Cheticamp, another hour and a half drive.
On our last day we decided to stay close to our campground, as we were quite tired of all the driving. Skyline trail was nearby so we decided to hike that trail again. The sights are spectacular.
The trail itself is very pretty too. I imagine in the Spring and Summer it would be very colorful with flowers everywhere.
We enjoyed our visit to Cape Breton National Highlands Park. We were a little early for Fall colors, but the park is beautiful none the less. If we had a smaller RV we would have enjoyed driving it across the Cabot Trail and up to Meat Cove. This would have made our days a little easier, as much of it was spent on the road. The Cabot Trail is 185 miles round trip so if you base yourself at one end like we did then you get stuck with a lot of driving time.
Next stop: Acadia National Park