View to the North from the First Look-Off

View to the north from the first look-off
Photo 10 of 25: View to the north from the first look-off
Taken 2007 August 10 in the Cape Smokey Provincial Park from the Cape Smokey Trail
at the look-off closest to the park
GPS 46°35.7??'N 60°22.6??'W

If one proceeds to the north end of the parking lot at the Cape Smokey Provincial Park, one will see a structure with (at least on the day I visited) a map of the Cape Smokey Trail, seen here, which runs some 5.5 km (3.4 mi) from the parking lot to Stanley Point at the north end of Cape Smokey. About three minutes down that trail, one comes to the junction with a side trail to the right which leads to the first look-off on the trail (there are seven altogether). That side trail descends over the course of five minutes from the 260 m (850 ft) of the parking lot to about 170 m (550 ft), reaching the edge of cliffs directly over the waters below. It was from there that this photo was taken.

This view to the north shows the terrain of the Cape Smokey Plateau, an extension of the Cape Breton Highlands Plateau. This area too was burnt by the aforementioned forest fire and has only partially recovered its vegetation—large open spots with only bushes and small trees can also be seen here on the flanks of the ravine and, when one is there, on top of the plateau. Other parts of the plateau have recovered somewhat better.

In the foreground, one sees a ravine which runs all the way back to the Cabot Trail. A brook (not shown on the topographic map and unnamed in The Nova Scotia Atlas) runs down the ravine and must somehow enter the water when it reaches the cliff edge, possibly as a waterfall; I suspect it is easily visible from the waters below, though I do not know of any vantage point from which it is possible to see it from land.

After circling back to the Cabot Trail to avoid descending into the ravine, the Cape Smokey Trail will come back to the coast on the other side. The remaining look-offs, except for the last which is on the north side of Cape Smokey, are strung out along the coast one sees here and very close to the cliffs; as you can imagine, the views from these look-offs are magnificent! I am unable to identify any of the look-offs in this photo, but the second one is somewhat before the bare cliff face one sees here. Stanley Point is not visible in this photo: the intervening ridges hide it from view.

If you do not have time to hike the entire Cape Smokey Trail, for which it is wise to allow a good half day, the short walk to the first look-off can be accommodated in a half hour. It is easy to get there, but remember that it is a 90 m (295 ft) climb on the way back.