Coast towards Mackerel Cove

Coast towards Mackerel Cove
Photo 3 of 30: Coast towards Mackerel Cove
Taken 2008 June 9 in Boudreauville from the Cape Auguet Eco-Trail trail head
GPS 45°29.834'N 60°58.427'W

The southeastern end of Isle Madame, which protrudes quite some distance into Chedabucto Bay, is known as Cape Auguet (au guet means on watch or on look-out, so, unless this is a surname, an English version would be Cape Look-Out; its physical position would indeed be a good place for a French look-out watching for English vessels). It sits west and south of Petit-de-Grat Island, separated from it by Petit-de-Grat Harbour. The Cape Auguet Sentier Écologique/Eco-Trail is Richmond County’s premier hiking trail: a 4.5 km (2.8 mi) trail leads from the trail head outside Boudreauville along the coast and salt marshes of Petit-de-Grat Harbour to the trail’s end in the middle of Mackerel Cove and alternative side and loop trails (one of which was closed when I was there) provide additional views.

To find the trail head, take either Highway 320 or Highway 206 to the point where they join in Arichat and continue on Highway 206 towards Petit-de-Grat. After about 5 km (3.1 mi), you will come to St Joseph’s Church in Boudreauville (at GPS 45°30.490'N 60°57.790'W): at this point, Highway 206 turns left across a bridge to Petit-de-Grat Island. Leave Highway 206 here, i.e., without crossing the bridge, and continue south until you find yourself in the trail head parking lot, about 1.6 km (1 mi). When I was there in June, there was fine road signage pointing to the trail head at several earlier points along Highway 206, but the critical sign at the church in Boudreauville was missing.

In this view from the trail head, the island in the centre of the photo is Spider Island and the furthest point of land is Pointe-à-Siméon (Simon’s Point), on this side of which lies Mackerel Cove. Mackerel Point, a long low rocky point of land that is hard to see in this photo, lies along the far shore at a point just above the trees on Spider Island; the shore of Mackerel Cove forms a long crescent running between Mackerel Point and Pointe-à-Siméon. If one looks closely, one can see a thin band of greyish-blue between the water and the sky on the far horizon; this is the Nova Scotia mainland near the Town of Canso across Chedabucto Bay.

By the time I reached here, the day had turned completely lovely. Some years earlier, I had hiked a portion of the Eco-Trail, but had not had time to finish it that day. So, I decided to take advantage of the unexpectedly good weather and enjoy an afternoon spent by the sea. The hiking trail is a fine one, with excellent views of the coast, including a couple of lakes, salt marshes, and even a forest hike, though one is never far from the water. A number of wild flowers, some exquisitely tiny and delicate, were in bloom and the incipient foliage of the deciduous trees was just at its bursting point; I also saw several stands of fiddlehead ferns. Shore birds were plentiful throughout the hike. There are six shelters along the trail (including the one at the trail head), each supplied with bilingual informative panels about the history, culture, and ecological significance of the area; since the sun had become especially strong and the trail’s constant up and down (though never more than 6 m (20 ft) at a time) had left me rather warm, wishing I had worn shorts rather than jeans, I really appreciated the opportunity to relax in a covered area, read the panels, and enjoy the superb views while cooling off in the gentle breezes.

[2012] This web site reports that the trail system was in dreadful shape in July, 2011. Last fall, a provincial government site, unfortunately no longer on line, said that only the short Blue loop trail (close to the trail head) was open and that the remaining trails were closed indefinitely. Mention of the trail is also gone, as of this writing, from the Isle Madame web site. It is to be hoped that this great resource is soon restored to its former fine shape. In the intervening years, I have been back to the trail head a couple of times, but did not venture out again on the trails due to the poor weather when I was there, so I can’t speak from personal experience about the current state of the trail system. In any case, it’s well worth a drive to the trail head for the views from there and any extra time you have can be used to explore the nearby shore and any open parts of the trail system; picnic tables were present near the trail head on my last visit and it’s a lovely spot for a picnic, even if the trails themselves are closed.