Mary Ann Falls

Mary Ann Falls
[#1] Photo 5 of 41: Mary Ann Falls
Taken 2009 October 6 from an overlook above Mary Ann Brook below the falls
GPS 46°45.745'N 60°21.775'W

The beautiful blue skies of mid-morning sadly proved to be short-lived, as the clouds returned with a vengeance, swallowing the sun and forcing it back into hiding. I nevertheless drove on to Neils Harbour and then down the nearly empty Cabot Trail from there towards Ingonish. When, on my way south, I reached the road at Broad Cove (at GPS 46°42.756'N 60°21.896'W) that leads to Mary Ann Falls, a place that is “often inundated with fellow nature lovers” in the words of Exploring Nova Scotia [p. 269], and to Warren Lake, I decided to turn in on it since I had never been to either place.

The 6 km (3.7 mi) road that runs from Broad Cove back north to Mary Ann Falls “was once part of the old Cabot Trail between North Ingonish and Neils Harbour. During the late 1940s and early 1950s it was relocated and rebuilt along the present more scenic route along the coast.” [Clarence Barrett in Cape Breton Highlands National Park: A Park Lover’s Companion, p. 124]. Along the way there, a sharp left curve protected by a guard rail (at GPS 46°43.480'N 60°21.410'W) overlooks an easy to miss panorama providing fine views of Cape Smokey, its prolongation inland rising high above Ingonish Harbour, Middle Head, Ingonish Island, Little Smokey, and Red Head; alas, my photos from there were obscured by the light rain and mist that was now falling on Ingonish and beginning to reach where I was standing. 4.5 km (2.8 mi) further on, one reaches the good-sized parking lot at the end of the road (at GPS 46°45.531'N 60°21.828'W). This day, it held only one other car, so the park rangers and I more or less had the place to ourselves.

A short path leads from the parking lot to a bridge over Mary Ann Brook from which one can hear the roar of the falls as the brook cascades down a cliff. Just beyond the bridge, a path ending in a stairway leads down to the base of the falls from which one has good views of the violence with which the water rushes down the chute into the brook below as well as of the canyon the brook has carved below the falls. Some 15 m (50 ft) in height, the falls are an impressive sight. I do not know whether they are always as gorged with water as they are in photo #1, but they were certainly quite noisy the day I was there. Less than a kilometer (0.6 mi) downstream of the falls, Mary Ann Brook joins Black Brook, which enters the Atlantic at Black Brook Cove.

After climbing back up the stairway, I continued on down the path and soon came upon another path, this time to the overlook from which photo #1 was taken. That overlook is at the top of the cliff on the north side of the brook and, had I then known it was there, it would have been clearly visible from the observation deck at the base of the falls. There is also supposed to be an overlook on the cliffs on south side of the falls, but I saw no path leading in that direction; perhaps I just missed it. While admiring the falls from this new vantage point, I was struck by the amount of colour visible on the trees around the falls, more colour than I had heretofore seen elsewhere—there were even some vibrant reds, most noticeably on the leaves of a very small maple that insisted I take its photo—I was only too happy to oblige.

After returning to the path and continuing on northwards, I quickly reached some large boulders placed across it, a clear sign that the path was at its end. Barrett’s guide, quoted above, says that the old road beyond “is becoming overgrown. But it continues […] for another 4.5 km to rejoin the [Cabot Trail] 1.2 km south of Halfway Brook. If you follow this old road for about a kilometre […] you come to Black Brook, which is spanned by a one-lane iron bridge.” [p. 144] Since the weather was by now very iffy, I decided to leave that exploration for another day and returned as I had come.

However, I soon reached another unexplored path, this time to the west, which I followed a short distance upstream along the north shore of Mary Ann Brook where it ended at some picnic tables beside the vigorous, noisy brook. It was there, looking upstream, that I took photo #2; some fall colours are showing here as well, though, as before, most of the trees are still bearing their summer greens. Looking downstream from this point, one can see the bridge over the brook and, below it, the cliff edge over which the brook falls. This would be a lovely spot for a picnic on a warm summer day! After enjoying this beautiful place, I made my way back to my car and drove back to Broad Cove, where I turned right onto the road to Warren Lake.

Mary Ann Brook
[#2] Photo 6 of 41: Mary Ann Brook
Taken 2009 October 6 from the brook beside the picnic tables on the north shore of the brook above the falls
GPS 46°45.685'N 60°21.848'W