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Nine Ways To Enjoy The Cabot Trail This Fall

Nine Ways to Enjoy the Cabot Trail this Fall

Ask a local from Cape Breton what their favourite season is and invariably the answer is the fall. Temperatures are comfortable, people are few and far between and the spectacular Highlands National Park scenery is at its best once the leaves begin changing colour.

Here are nine ways to enjoy the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island this fall.

1. Drive the Cabot Trail

Take a drive (or bike) through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. You will be rewarded with eye popping vistas. Leave time to hike the Skyline Trail.

Gorgeous views on the Cabot Trail

Gorgeous views on the Cabot Trail


The easy hills through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park

The easy hills through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park – seriously

 2. Visit the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck

The genius and inventiveness of Alexander Graham Bell is impossible to miss. Allow at least two hours to wander through the museum, watch videos, check out exhibits and appreciate how prolific his interests were. The entrance fee is $7.90 per adult.

3. Take a whale watching tour out of Chéticamp, Pleasant Bay or Bay St. Lawrence

Most companies guarantee whale sightings though often it’s the Pilot whale you’ll see. There are frequent sightings too of fin, humpback and minke whales as well as dolphins, seals, eagles, cormorants and guillemots. Most tours are 2.5 t0 3 hours in length.

4. Play a round of golf at the Highlands Golf Course in Ingonish.

They say it’s golf as its meant to be played – in Scottish fashion – which I think means it rains a great deal. If it doesn’t rain it’s a beautiful course.

5. Hang out on a sandy beach.

Relax on one of the lovely beaches. There are long stretches of beach near Dingwall and the area around Blacks Brook Cove is rocky but very pretty and well worth exploring.

'Neils Harbour'

Beach near Neils Harbour

6. Stop at the Clucking Hen 

Plan a stop at the Clucking Hen, a roadside cafe and bakery south of Cape Smokey on the north shore of St. Ann’s Bay. It opens at 7 AM so you can pick up coffee and warm cinnamon buns or stay and eat in on the screened porch.

If its lunchtime and you’re in the vicinity, make a beeline for the chowder and lobster sandwiches – all reputed to be excellent. If you’re sick of nothing but fried food at dinner then plan to stop for some fresh fish or lobster stew, favourites on the dinner menu. 

The Clucking Hen seasonal restaurant

The Clucking Hen seasonal restaurant in Englishtown

7. Go fly fishing in the Margaree Valley

The Margaree Valley is famous for fly fishing particularly in the fall when salmon season is in full swing. Atlantic salmon range anywhere in size from 15 -40 pounds. When they bite it’s supposed to be quite a thrill. Hire a guide and see for yourself.

8. Check out the local artisans

Pick up a map showing the galleries and workshops of the local crafts people. Cheticamp is justly famous for its hooked rugs which I inwardly sneered at until I saw them. Some are incredible works of art that I would be proud to display in my house.

One interesting fellow – Joe McKinnon, who has a small shop just before the turnoff to the Margaree Valley, hand carves folk art. My husband honed in on the typical male piece which would be the perfect gift for the male in your family.

Folk art

9. Learn some Acadian history

Learn the history of the Acadians at Les Centre de Trois Pignon in Cheticamp. The Societe Saint-Pierre operates the center. They have been working since 1947 to preserve the language, songs and folklore of the Acadians in addition to keeping genealogical records which turns out to be a major draw.

There’s even more to do than what I’ve suggested. I didn’t even touch on all the hiking and kayaking possibilities. Explore this great country on Labour day weekend and if you’re anywhere near Cape Breton try some of the suggested activities.

Further reading about things to do in Nova Scotia

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

This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. We loved Cape Breton too. I couldn’t believe the greetings we got from people in Cape Breton as we biked. We were encouraged up hills with honking, waves, thumbs up,,,People would happily engage at any pull over and you’d hear how their families had been in Cape Breton for 5, 6 and even 7 generations. Proud people and beautiful couuntry.

  2. Our gang at the Celtic Colours International Festival presents over forty shows across Cape Breton Island every October including many in magical venues along the Cabot Trail.

    Might be an option for those who enjoy a little nightlife with their hiking and biking!

  3. We did a quick one-day trip on the cabot trail. Loved it so much that we want to go back again next summer and spend about 4 evenings, so that we can take in all the beauty.

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