From Ingonish Beach, I drove north to Meat Cove, where, after dinner at the Meat Cove Family Restaurant, I spent a fine evening watching the beautiful scenery from the Hines Oceanview Lodge high above the village as the sun dipped over the Highlands (at 20h!) and produced a fine sunset during the long dusk.
Tuesday morning, I was up early on a generally beautiful day and headed up the Meat Cove Mountain Trail (described here); it is relatively short, following along a brook bed (dry this day) up from the trail head on Meat Cove Road (at GPS 47°01.211'N 60°33.665'W) and around the eastern flank of Meat Cove Mountain to the col (at GPS 47°00.748'N 60°33.522'W) from which photo #1 was shot, looking a bit west of south down the valley carved by the Meat Cove Brook. The length of the trail is a mere 1 km (0.6 mi) to the col, but it is one of the steepest trails in Cape Breton, with rope railings along the way to assist in maintaining one’s footing: I managed it in just under two hours, with lots of rests to regain my breath (even the descent took me one hour and nine minutes, because great attention to where one puts one’s feet is essential), though someone with better lungs and balance could likely do it in much less (the Three Peaks Challenge time for fit hikers is from two to two and a half hours, but that includes the trek out to the north summit and down to the rock face as well).
The last time I was here, 2009 June 17, it was impossible to see Meat Cove Brook from here—only a line through the trees below allowed one to discern its course. The deluge of 2010 and its aftermath (if you are unfamiliar with it and its consequences, see the text on this page) changed that pristine state into what one now sees below: rubble and earth and uprooted trees all along its course.
The boundary between Inverness and Victoria Counties is to the right of Meat Cove Brook in this view, passing over the highest ridge at the centre right middle ground just before it starts to descend to the brook and then jumping about halfway down the slope at the centre right; it does cross the brook and the lower slope of Meat Cove Mountain, but the point at which it does so is out of the scope of this photo. If one were to fly in a straight line south beyond the mountain in the centre of this photo, one would pass just to the east of MacEvoys Barren on North Mountain and reach the Cabot Trail in Big Intervale. If one were to fly due west (at the far right of the photo), one would arrive at Lowland Cove in 4.7 km (2.9 mi); alas, the Highlands at the right of this photo completely block all views of the northwestern Inverness County coast, including the High Capes and Cape St Lawrence.
From the col, where I perched on a boulder to capture the gorgeous views here, one can go either right or left. The right hand (western) trail leads up and over the northern summit of Meat Cove Mountain and down to the cliff at the top of the face seen from the village far below. Photo #2 is the view to the right from the boulder of the summit and the rock cliffs that line the western edge of Meat Cove Mountain. The trail, seen here between the centre boulder and the one to its right, is actually considerably clearer than this photo makes it appear and is very easy to follow.
If one goes to the left (east) from the col, one ascends to the ridge that one sees in photo #3, which continues the view to the far left outside the scope of photo #1. As seen there, this ridge extends south along the Meat Cove Brook valley; the initial part of it is open, but it becomes forested about ½ km (⅓ mi) from the col. The same protruding eroded rock formations seen in photo #2 are present along this ridge until it reaches the forested area. The highest point on the ridge, which is higher than the northern summit of Meat Cove Mountain, can also be thought of as the southern summit of Meat Cove Mountain.
After a short rest, I chose to go left first and began my ascent of the ridge; photo #4, which looks northwest back (and down) on the summit of Meat Cove Mountain, was taken from near the southern summit. The boulder from which the first three photos on this page were taken is in the right foreground down below. The trail along the edge of the northern summit to its top is as easily made out in this photo as it is when one walks it. From this perspective, the side of Meat Cove Mountain appears to rise at a 45° angle; when one is along the trail across the northern summit, it seems to fall away much more sharply than that! The rock face that is the mountain’s most prominent feature when seen from the village below (as seen here) is on the far side of the northern summit on its northwest side, well below the summit itself. The Gulf of St Lawrence, whose blues merge fuzzily into the lighter hues of the sky, is in the far distance.