Cabot Trail near the summit of North Mountain

Cabot Trail near the summit of North Mountain
Photo 15 of 34: Cabot Trail near the summit of North Mountain
Taken 2010 March 6 in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park from the Cabot Trail
near the summit of North Mountain
GPS 46°50.???'N 60°40.???'W

This photograph is copyright © 2010 by Charlie MacEachern,
remains the sole property of the photographer,
and has been used here with explicit permission.

The Cabot Trail crosses from the west coast to the east coast of northern Cape Breton Island on a most spectacular route through the Cape Breton Highlands that must remain burnt in the mind of anyone who has followed it. First, on a series of hairpin turns, most garnished with a spectacular look-off and well-done explanatory information panels, it descends MacKenzies Mountain with gorgeous views of the Gulf of St Lawrence and the long northwestern shore as far as Tittle Point (not far from the northern end of Cape Breton Island at Cape St Lawrence). Once down off the mountain, it crosses the bridge over MacKenzies River (well worth a stop on the other side — there is no official look-off, but there is a parking area — and a walk back to the bridge will reward you with fine views of the river and its valley in both directions) and follows the shore of Pleasant Bay (the water) into the community of Pleasant Bay below the northern edge of MacKenzies Mountain. After leaving Pleasant Bay, it then follows the Grande Anse River (which empties into the harbour at Pleasant Bay) for a distance, after which it begins a steep climb up through a narrow canyon between the edges of the Cape Breton Highlands Plateau on either side until it reaches the summit of North Mountain (alas, the canyon is too narrow to permit the construction of look-offs and stopping in this area is prohibited, but the views are nevertheless very fine, especially when travelling in the opposite direction). Then, it starts down again, passing through a series of sharp curves until it reaches the Aspy Fault, which it then follows down into the valley of the North Aspy River and on to the community of Cape North, where it turns south towards South Mountain and Neils Harbour; like the MacKenzies Mountain descent, the North Mountain descent is accompanied by numerous look-offs with very interesting expository displays, many devoted to the geology of the area.

The view seen here is not far below the North Mountain summit, looking at one of the curves in the Cabot Trail as it climbs upwards from Cape North towards that summit. If memory serves, a ravine starts on the left side of this view where the snow has been piled impressively high indeed, completely burying the guardrails. The rock cliff face at the right is what normally attracts the eyes when driving this route in other seasons; in winter, I guess that it should not be very surprising that it is mostly ice and snow covered, as it appears here. The trees on display in this photo also show the same thick ice/snow coating seen in those on MacKenzies Mountain, though, except for the two completely caked trees at the upper right beyond the rock cliff face (which come across to my eyes as a lady accompanied by a huge Snoopy-like dog), they do not display the same fantastic shapings seen earlier.

For anyone who has been here before, but in a season other than winter, this photograph must surely be an eye-opener! The beauty of the day just permeates this beautiful and tranquil scene!