Trap à Mhathain (Bear Trap) Trail


The original settlers of Cape Mabou had several cart tracks that they used to transport food and necessaries from one place to another; the Trap à Mhathain (Bear Trap) Trail follows one of these through MacIsaacs Glen, connecting the Cul Na Beinne (Beyond the Mountain) Trail to the MacEachen Trail, both also originally cart tracks used by the settlers. I have no idea why the name Trap à Mhathain (Bear Trap) was given to this cart track; I’m sure a very interesting story lies behind the name.
Google Maps Name
Not Shown
Local Usage
Bear Trap Trail, Trap à Mhathain (pronounced [træp.ɑ.ˈvæn]) Trail
West to East, then South to North
Start Point
46°09.066′N 61°25.478′W, at its junction with the Cul Na Beinne (Beyond the Mountain) Trail, also known as MacKinnons Brook Lane
End Point
46°09.611′N 61°24.422′W, at its junction with the MacEachen Trail
2.8 km (1¾ mi)
Hiking Trail
Dirt track with some grassy areas, often leaf-covered; occasional slippery footing on moss and leaf covered rocks
Very good, but be prepared for a few muddy spots (easily traversed)
Route Description
From the col on the Cul Na Beinne (Beyond the Mountain) Trail where it begins, the cart track descends a short distance down into MacIsaacs Glen, where it meets the MacIsaacs Glen Brook. Thereafter, the cart track closely follows along the brook to its source up on the Cape Breton Highlands Plateau, where it meets the MacEachen Trail at the summit; its course is easterly for about half its distance and northerly for the rest. In those places where the brook has “borrowed” the cart track, the trail rises above it on the side of the highlands it is skirting with switchbacks to ease some of the climbing involved. Side tributaries of MacIsaacs Glen Brook come down from those highlands, to join the main brook, creating the occasional muddy patch to cross, but stones are in place that make crossing these rills, usually just small trickles of water, easy. About three-quarters of the way up, you will cross MacIsaacs Glen Brook itself and thereafter the cart track is wide and grassy up to the summit. This is a good climb, gaining rather more elevation than the Beinn Alasdair Bhain (Fair Alistair’s Mountain) Trail though less than the Beinn Bhiorach (Steep Mountain) Trail, but it is spread out over a longer distance, so it actually feels less strenuous than either of those trails. Highly recommended!
Vic’s Scenic Rating
Though it is completely lacking in panoramic vistas, this is nevertheless one of the loveliest spots in Cape Mabou: if Nature has a church, this is its cathedral! The hardwood forest with its lofty canopy is magnificent any time of year, but especially so in the fall, while MacIsaacs Glen Brook follows the trail nearly all of the way up, gurgling and singing as it spills and splashes and splishes over the terrain. Many folks are put off by the trail’s name, but they shouldn’t be—although I’m sure bear do live in the area, I’ve never seen one anywhere in Cape Mabou and very rarely even seen signs of them along this trail. If you are one of those folks and it helps your unease any, think of this as the Singing Brook Trail as you enjoy your hike through this majestic glen.

Photo Catalogue

Click on any thumbnail to be taken to the photo essay page for that photo.

Thumbnail Date GPS Locality Where Caption
../essays/2/thumbnails/p8173966.jpg 2005
about forty minutes hike from the Cul Na Beinne (Beyond the Mountain) Trail Along the Trap à Mhathain (Bear Trap) Trail