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The Cabot Trail’s Striking East Coast

The Cabot Trail’s Striking East Coast

The 298 km Cabot Trail loops around the northern part of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. Although the west coast is renowned for its jaw dropping views the east coast of the Cabot Trail offers a host of lovely surprises.

The east side of the Cabot Trail

Dingwall Area

Take the time to drive or bike to Dingwall, just a short distance off of the Cabot Trail. Continue through the village and out to the beach. There are loads of cormorants and other seabirds to watch and it’s particularly beautiful at sunset.

'Dingwall, Cape Breton Island'

Dingwall Harbour at sunset on Cape Breton Island

South Harbour to Neil’s Harbour

Take the alternate and scenic coastal route from South Harbour to White Point and then cross inland on rougher roads to Neil’s Harbour. Views are fantastic. Try some sea kayaking with Eagle North Kayaking. Then stop for lunch at the Chowder House in Neil’s Harbour; it’s not much more than a shack but it offers an inexpensive lunch with reasonable food in a great setting. After lunch wander around on the nearby headlands or beach.

'Aspy Bay area'

Views of Aspy Bay

Black Brook Cove

It’s definitely worth stopping at Black Brook Cove. Pink granite rock, waterfalls, rock beaches and swimming possibilities should be enough to get you out of the car. Check out the scenery on the Cabot Trail video.

Green Cove

Jump out of the car at Green Cove and take 10 minutes to check out the rocky headland. Beware the rogue waves that can wash over the rocks. Interestingly, there are Atlantic leatherback turtles, which eat jellyfish as a main course, and migrate between Atlantic Canada and the beaches of Central and South America every year. It would be a privilege to see one of these turtles which can weigh up to 1000 pounds.

'East Coast of the Cabot Trail'

East Coast of the Cabot Trail

Ingonish Centre to Ingonish Ferry

If you’re staying in Ingonish make sure you know which Ingonish. There are many – Ingonish, Ingonish Centre, Ingonish Beach, Ingonish Harbour and Ingonish Ferry. Confused. The famous Highlands Links Golf Course and Keltic Lodge are in the Ingonish Beach area. Try the hike from Keltic Lodge to Middle Head, an ocean headland with lots of seabirds and great views or kayak the Ingonish estuary. It’s also a very pretty drive along the roads on either side of Ingonish Ferry.

Cape Smokey

Cape Smokey is the last big climb if you’re heading south on a bike. And I’d rather be climbing it from the north than from the south. Off the top of Cape Smokey there’s a hiking trail out to Stanley Point. And at the very least wander down to the fences above the cliffs where the views on a clear day are fabulous. So is the exhilarating ride down. I loved it.

'Road down from Cape Smokey'

The road down from Cape Smokey looking south

Once you are off the top of Cape Smokey the scenery is less interesting. The final stop to make before reaching Baddeck is the restaurant I’ve mentioned before – The Clucking Hen. Grab a coffee or enjoy a really good breakfast, lunch or dinner. I also appreciate their sense of humour.

'weather stone'

North Shore weather stone

You won’t forget the natural beauty of the Cabot Trail. If you want to bike the Cabot Trail download my free guide here.You can check out my Cabot Trail video and get a good sense of how pretty the Cabot Trail is.

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

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