I have long been aware of the unnamed road (Google Maps and my Prius’ GPS both name it “6014 Road”, whatever that is supposed to mean) that begins in Bay Road Valley (at GPS 46°58.174'N 60°28.418'W), 13.7 km (8.5 mi) north of the junction of the Cabot Trail and the Bay St Lawrence Road, and that climbs sharply up the massif, but I had never ventured up it. Thinking it was likely to be undriveable by car (I knew it was driveable by pick-up truck, as I’d seen one parked by the Money Point Light Trail after I reached the top of the massif on my hike there in 2007), I had added it to my list of hikes to attempt. Because I need a proper name in this essay by which to refer to this road, I am going to dub it the “Cape North Massif Road”.¹
Since it was only noon when I left Bay St Lawrence, it was still quite early in the day and I decided I would see how far along the road I could get, fully expecting I’d have to soon turn around. Instead, I made it all the way out to the communications towers, a distance of 7.1 km (4.4 mi); the road continues on beyond that point, but it requires a higher slung vehicle than my Prius, which bottomed out just past the towers. It was slow going (lots of uneven spots that require care to traverse, potholes and protruding rocks to avoid, small streams across the road, etc.), seventy minutes one way, including numerous stops for photos, but very much well worth the time. (If you should choose to attempt this road by car, be aware that you may find it in a very different state: winter weather, spring run-off, and storms all year long may all render the road untraversable; go with the same state of mind as I did and turn around if you find your forward progress dubious or blocked. You definitely don’t want to get stranded up there!) The views are spectacular at several points along this road where it ventures close to some of the accidents in the terrain that allow one to see beyond the massif, though the vast majority of the route is through terrain lined on both sides by evergreen trees that block any views to the side. I have devoted three pages of this essay to my photos from the massif; this page is given over to those taken from the east side of the massif.
Photo #1 shows the shore along the eastern end of South Mountain, which spans this photo from the far right to left of centre where it gradually declines to the appropriately named Long Point, seen at the horizon. White Point is right of centre, with Aspy Bay to the right and the Atlantic Ocean to the left. Along the shore, Burnt Head is the first point beyond White Point; the point yet further on is unnamed, but the cove beyond it is Little Burnt Head Cove, so perhaps the point is Little Burnt Head. Long Point is 3.25 km (2 mi) north of Neils Harbour. I had seen this shore from White Point and Burnt Head, but never high enough to see it like this, so this was an especially thrilling view for me (the New Haven Road from White Point to Neils Harbour runs well inland of the coast and so has no views of this shore). I’m sorry it wasn’t a more photogenic day, but I’ll definitely take this over nothing at all. Notice the nearly vertical tan line at the far right in the side of South Mountain: I believe that is the Cabot Trail as it climbs up and over South Mountain on its way to Neils Harbour and Ingonish.
Photo #2 is another stunning view I’ve never had before, so again I was beyond thrilled to see it for the first time. If my description of the three Aspy River branches and the four harbours along Aspy Bay confused you a few pages back, this photo should straighten out any confusion. South Mountain looms over the entire scene in the background. Directly below South Mountain is South Harbour, with its sand bar at the far left of the photo. On this side of the ridge that marks South Harbour’s northern side, you see another sand bar and a smallish harbour behind; this is Middle Harbour, fed by the joint outflow of the South Aspy and Middle Aspy Rivers — it is nearly as long as South Harbour (a small sliver of it is visible near the centre of the photo), but not nearly as wide. Near the dead centre of the photo, you next see the breakwaters which mark the entrance to Dingwall Harbour, another long indentation, but one not fed by any rivers; notice all the houses along its southern bank. At the far right of the photo, you see a portion of North Harbour and its sand bars; North Harbour is even longer and much bigger than South Harbour, so there’s a goodly portion of it (including the inlet from which the photos of North Harbour a few pages back were taken) outside the scope of this photo, concealed by the nearby slopes of the Cape North Massif. There is just enough sunlight in this photo to make the contours of South Mountain stand out much better than in photo #1; there are definitely fall colours there, but pretty muted, at least from this distance and in this light. What an incredible view this must be on a sunny day!!!
¹ A local to whom I mentioned my trip along the massif called it the Money Point Road, but this name designates the road which runs north from Bay St Lawrence out towards Cape North to the head of the Money Point Lighthouse Trail. Conceivably, this still might be the correct name, since in the old days, Money Point Road (as a cart track) could well have continued along the trail up the massif and then followed the top of the massif back south to the Bay St Lawrence Road. But the Money Point Lighthouse Trail up the massif is not drivable by a truck — taking an ATV up there is apparently done, judging by marks in the trail, but even that looks incredibly dangerous to me. I’ll therefore stick with the “Cape North Massif Road” until I learn better.↩
The prominence seen in photo #3, unnamed so far as I am aware, was previously seen here from White Point, in a photo that gives a better idea of its full size. According to the topographical map, its height is over 400 m (1312 ft); that of its northern neighbour in the referenced photo, also unnamed, is even higher, at 431.9 m (1417 ft). The topographical map shows that Gulch Brook runs along the western and southern flanks of this prominence (i.e., in the foreground and at the right of this photo), with “The Gulch” designating its mouth at the shore. Alas, none of that can be seen in this photo.
One of the trails hiked by the annual September Hike the Highlands Festival is named “Money Point Gulch”; according to their trail description, it follows the Money Point Lighthouse Trail up the massif, then turns onto what I am here calling the Cape North Massif Road and follows it for a couple of kilometres, and then “turns off the road and winds through low spruce and alder to a spectacular bare ridge”. From the photo gallery accompanying this trail description, it appears that that ridge is to the south of Money Point Gulch (to the right and out of the scope of this photo) and does not lead to the cliff face seen in this photo. I did not see signs of the flagging tape that apparently identifies the trail from the road to the ridge, so I do not know where one would pick it up — an exploration for another time.
Photo #4, taken from further south along the massif looking a hair west of south, shows the dense evergreen forest covering of much of the massif in the foreground and bordering the Cape North Massif Road along nearly all of its length on top of the massif. South Mountain lies across the far horizon at the far left and left of centre in this photo. Wilkie Sugar Loaf is the prominence left of centre in the middle ground, while North Mountain is at the right of the photo a bit further south. The road is too far inland at this point for any of the waters below the massif to be visible, even if the orientation were changed to look towards the east. The few deciduous trees in the foreground sport mixtures of early fall oranges and summer greens; the colours on North Mountain appear to be rather more advanced, though it is impossible to tell from this distance.
In photo #5, thanks to the gully carved by Middle Brook, a gap has been created that allows one to again see the waters of Aspy Bay, with South Harbour lying below South Mountain in the far distance and with the sand bar across North Harbour visible in the middle left of the photo. Wilkie Sugar Loaf is again visible in the middle ground right of centre; at over 300 m (984 ft) it is pretty hard to miss! The nearer prominences are part of the Cape North Massif, which itself reaches over 320 m (1050 ft) on the prominence at the far right. As best as I can make out, the water seen to the left of Wilkie Sugar Loaf is part of North Harbour.
Photo #6 is a telephoto view of Wilkie Sugar Loaf, with the ridge of the Cape North Massif in the foreground. On that ridge, the evergreen monoculture seen earlier has given way to a distinctly mixed forest, with definite fall colours on the deciduous trees; it is too bad that the light is so poor that it is hard to tell how advanced they are. I have not yet hiked up Wilkie Sugar Loaf, but the trail follows the sloping ridge that falls off to the far left and a portion of it appears to be visible at the summit. There are said to be excellent views from the summit, so I hope to make it up there on a nice summer day.
What an amazingly beautiful trip this was, even if only the views from the east side were all that were to be seen! But additional wonderful views are still in store. What a find!