Ingonish Harbour and Freshwater Lake
from Stanley Point Look-Off

Ingonish Harbour and Freshwater Lake from the Stanley Point look-off
Photo 21 of 25: Ingonish Harbour and Freshwater Lake from the Stanley Point look-off
Taken 2007 August 10 from the Cape Smokey Trail at its end at the Stanley Point look-off
GPS 46°37.6??'N 60°21.4??'W

The sixth look-off, while welcome for its benches, was a visual disappointment: its only views are to the northeast, so all one can see from there is the ocean below—no coast or adjacent land is visible. Thirteen minutes later, one comes to the Stanley Point look-off, the end of the trail, at the edge of a cliff about 170 m (550 ft) above the waters below. Much of this section of the trail is a fairly abrupt descent from the top of the Cape Smokey plateau through forest with not many hints of the views to come, so I was astonished at the incredible 180° panorama with gorgeous views to the west and north—the Atlantic is to the east—that lay at my feet when I reached the look-off.

In this view to the west, one sees South Bay Ingonish immediately below. The white sands of Ingonish Beach cross the middle of the picture, separating South Bay Ingonish from Ingonish Harbour on the left (the harbour entrance is to the far left, well outside the scope of this photo and not visible from the look-off) and Freshwater Lake on the right. Some of the buildings of the village of Ingonish Beach can be seen behind the peninsula separating Ingonish Harbour from Freshwater Lake; these buildings mark the path of the Cabot Trail as it continues its journey north through this area.

In the background, one sees the famous glacier-carved Clyburn Valley, a deep canyon through which the Clyburn River (labelled Clyburn Brook on all the maps I have, but for some reason always referred to in text as the Clyburn River) flows before entering North Bay Ingonish at the far right of this photo and outside its scope. Unlike Cape Smokey, the Clyburn Valley lies within the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. A well-known fairly level bikable trail (which I have not yet hiked) leads through the valley. It is interesting to note that the Clyburn Brook/River rises in White Hill Lake in Victoria County below White Hill, the highest point in Cape Breton (and Nova Scotia) at 535 m (1,755 ft), only 4.5 km (2.8 mi) northeast of the Chéticamp Flowage discussed in the previous photo essay.

Franey Mountain rises left of centre above the Clyburn Valley to a height of 428 m (1,404 ft). A second trail (which I have also not yet hiked) leads to its summit; reaching the summit requires climbing 366 m (1,200 ft) over 2.5 km (1.5 mi), quite a steep slog, but from the cliff face at the top one sees in this photo, the 360° panoramic views of the Clyburn Valley, the Ingonish coast, Cape Smokey, and the Cape North Massif to the north are said to be spectacular and it’s obvious that they must indeed be. Haynes (p. 85) speaks of a fire tower near the cliff face, but Barrett (p. 130) says it was torn down in 1999, so don’t feel bad if you don’t see it in this photo.

[2012] On 2008 June 28, I did hike the Clyburn Valley Trail, mostly in fog and mist on a far less than stellar day, but I enjoyed myself nonetheless. Sadly, I have not yet made it up to the summit of Franey; given the draw of the music along the Cèilidh Trail, I am rarely in the Ingonish area when the weather is decent enough to attempt it, but I certainly hope to make it up there some one of these days.