Photo 12 (Moderate)

St Anns Bay from the fifth look-off on the Cape Smokey Trail
Photo 12 of 30: St Anns Bay from the fifth look-off on the Cape Smokey Trail
Taken 2007 August 10 from the Cape Smokey Trail at the fifth look-off (counting from south to north)
GPS 46°36.9??'N 60°21.5??'W

In this photo taken at the fifth look-off on the Cape Smokey Trail, the shining beauty of St Anns Bay spreads in front of one for as far as the eye can see. The Cape Breton Highlands rise above the bay at the right, while the massif including Kellys Mountain rises above the bay at the left; it is from this massif that the photo of the Englishtown ferry seen earlier in this essay was taken. That massif ends in Cape Dauphin, at the far left of the photo and outside its scope. Two very popular islands with birders, Hertford Island and Ciboux Island, lie off the tip of Cape Dauphin (also outside this photo’s scope), forming an archipelago with four islets collectively known as the Bird Islands and recently declared a Nova Scotia Wildlife Management Area. The Bird Islands are the main destination visited by popular boat tours from Englishtown and Big Bras d’Or.

The Cape Smokey Trail, which begins in the Cape Smokey Provincial Park off the Cabot Trail on the top of the mountain above the narrow beach seen in the centre right of the photo, is one of the glories of Cape Breton—three photos in this essay were taken from it, all of different scenes (and several other scenes not included in this essay are equally compelling). Cape Smokey’s height and location directly on the coast gives one a vantage point with few equals on Cape Breton. The day I took this photo, it was possible to see to the northeastern tip of Cape Breton Island at Wreck Point beyond Glace Bay, a distance of some 55 km (34 mi) as the crow flies and much further by land.

The Wreck Cove generating station, constructed in the 1980’s (at least according to Nova Scotia Power’s web siteelsewhere it is said to have come on line in 1978), is Cape Breton’s only hydroelectric plant; it has a generating capacity of 220 megawatts. The undulating ribbon across the mountains about halfway up right of centre in the photo is the cut made for the power line that connects the hydro plant to the south. Very close to where Wreck Cove Brook (the outlet of the generating station—the dams are well above the coast up in the highlands) empties into St Anns Bay, there is a fine unofficial look-off at the side of the Cabot Trail (at GPS 46°31.866'N 60°25.061'W) that merits a stop; you will usually see several cars pulled off there and people on the cliffs admiring the scene.

[2012] South of that look-off, at GPS 46°31.255'N 60°25.358'W, Highland Road reaches the Cabot Trail in Wreck Cove. On 2010 August 8, I drove from the Margaree Valley up Fielding Road and came to Highland Road at its end there (at GPS 46°22.915'N 60°48.767'W); I then turned left and continued north to SANS (Snowmobilers Association of Nova Scotia) junction 7R (at GPS 46°33.044'N 60°38.991'W). Up to this point that year, the roads were in excellent condition so, at 7R, I turned onto SANS 755 and started off towards Wreck Cove. I soon found that part of the road barely passable (for a car), requiring constant large pothole avoidance and finding it very tiring to drive—I was really tempted to turn around and return as I had come. But I persevered and after what seemed a long time (though my log book shows it was only forty-five minutes), I had driven 12¾ km (8 mi) and reached the Wreck Cove Flowage (at GPS 46°33.128'N 60°30.884'W), a lake formed by the hydroelectric dams which power the Wreck Cove generating station. At that point, the road improved greatly and from there down to the Cabot Trail, I greatly enjoyed the drive and stopped frequently for photos along the way; I can heartily recommend the road from the Cabot Trail to the Wreck Cove Flowage as an unusual and interesting side trip if you happen to be in the area.