The lovely weather of the previous day did not linger, being replaced overnight with a sky of high, greyish-white clouds with occasional small patches of blue visible. Worse, there was more haze in the air, obscuring things that would have been crystal clear in the previous day’s wonderful light; I spent 2¾ hours at the Meat Cove Look-Off, during which time the sun intermittently popped out of the clouds and the haze dissipated considerably, but, as the photos on this page show, did not disappear entirely.
Last year, I had made it to the top of Meat Cove Mountain and discovered the stupendous views in all directions that it offers. This year, my goal was an area high up the unnamed mountain/ridge on the other side of the valley (seen in photo #1) carved by Meat Cove Brook, known as the Meat Cove Look-Off.
In years previous, I had twice ascended the Lowland Cove Trail, so I knew I was in for a stiff climb. I left the car at 9h26 at the end of the Meat Cove Road beyond the Meat Cove campground; at 10h20, with lots of stops to catch my breath, I arrived at the junction of the Lowland Cove Trail and the Meat Cove Look-Off Trail (at 47°01.152' N 60°34.224' W). Six minutes later, I started up the Look-Off Trail and arrived at what I believed to be the end of the trail at 11h22, again with many pauses to catch my breath. While not quite as steep as the Meat Cove Mountain Trail, the Meat Cove Look-Off Trail was more than enough work-out for this oldster!
Colin Mudle’s fine web site gives the look-off’s location as “N47°01.225' W60°34.146'” (which coördinate, alas, I did not have with me during the hike), but I ended up in the area between 47°01.152' N 60°34.224' W and 47°01.164' N 60°34.205' W, i.e., further south and west. After discussing this situation later with a knowledgeable villager, it appears that I mistook a side trail for the main trail and thus missed the proper end of the trail, but I had very fine views nevertheless which more than repaid the effort. The view of Meat Cove Brook and the valley through which it flows is somewhat more extensive from here than from Meat Cove Mountain, which is seen from the Look-Off in photo #2.
The ridge seen in photo #3 is accessible from the Meat Cove Mountain Trail and offers stunning views of the Cape Breton Highlands Plateau, Wilkie Sugar Loaf, the Cape North Massif, and Bay St Lawrence (the waters). Last year, I walked out along it beyond the right edge showing in this photo and would have loved to have spent more time there (I started that hike at 13h32 and finally made it up to the top of the arduous trail at 15h10, from which I had to explore both Meat Cove Mountain and then the ridge). As can be seen in photo #1, that ridge continues above the Meat Cove Brook to the south before it turns to the west to arrive behind Lowland Cove a good distance away.
From Meat Cove Mountain — one can hike out to near the edge of the peak seen in photo #4 (taken from Meat Cove Road down in the village), there are great views of the village far below and of all of the surrounding area, including the area at the Meat Cove Look-Off, but, alas, one cannot see beyond the ridge to Cape St Lawrence and the western shore of the Gulf as one is still below the ridge on which the Meat Cove Look-Off is found. The Meat Cove Mountain Trail begins on the Meat Cove Road and ascends through the cleft seen diagonally descending across the lower left third of the photo, turning around the mountain and continuing up on the back side to arrive at the ridge near the far left of photo #1.
Photo #5 is a close-up of Meat Cove Brook seen from the Look-Off directly above. It is presumably somewhere in this general area that the dam formed during the downpour that led to the tragedy described on the previous page of this essay. Looking at this photo at this remove, I do not see any dead spruce, though I certainly was conscious of them at the Look-Off and on the trail leading there.
Prior to the deluge, a trail known as the Meat Cove Brook Trail was under development (I didn’t make it out there): it followed alongside the brook from the community centre into the valley seen here for some distance. I assume this trail, if it even still exists, will have been greatly damaged by the flood; more’s the pity as, at least from these heights, it appears to have been a lovely place to walk.
From the Look-Off, to the northeast of Meat Cove Mountain, one has fine views of the stunning course of Meat Cove Road and of Black Point, Bay St Lawrence (the water) and the Cape North Massif; alas, photo #6 is not very clear due to the haze, but at least that photo gives a hint of what could be seen on a finer day than this one. The slope in the foreground runs down from Meat Cove Mountain to Meat Cove Road; that in the middle ground runs down to Black Point. Beyond lies the Cape North Massif with Cape North at its northern end. Although this photo shows only a small part of the the massif, in fact, the Look-Off offers views of nearly the whole of the massif, though much of its lower half is hidden by the two slopes seen here.
When it became evident that the haze was not going to diminish further, I left at 14h06 and reached the junction with the Lowland Cove Trail at 14h32. Since it was still early and since I was not all that far below the top of the ridge, I decided to head up and on towards Lowland Cove. After the usual stops for breath, I reached the field and corral at 14h56, where I took some photos. At 15h19, I reached the top of the ridge and took some more photos — the views are tree-occluded, but I wanted to have some proof I had actually made it up there! Three minutes from there, already heading downhill, I reached the Cape St Lawrence trail head, where I turned around and started back, arriving at the car at 16h48. Even though it wasn’t a perfect photography day and in spite of the hard (for me, at least) slogs climbing, I enjoyed myself immensely, exploring a trail that was new to me with very rewarding views at its end and getting a much-needed work-out. I can highly recommend this trail and hope to return there again on a somewhat better day.
 Conversations in Meat Cove indicated that the Meat Cove Brook Trail has effectively been destroyed and that the damage to the shores of the brook leave no practical place for it to be rebuilt. The other trails have suffered some damage, but are passable. The 2012 Three Peaks Challenge includes the Meat Cove Mountain Trail and the 2012 Hike The Highlands Festival includes the Meat Cove Look-Off Trail, signs that both have been restored to reasonable shape. If the weather allows, I hope to make it up both in June.