At the top of the ridge above the Meat Cove Brook valley, one soon reaches a boulder in the grass with fabulous unencumbered views all around the compass rose. Photo #1 was taken there; it looks north of east across the Cape Breton Highlands Plateau to Cape North at the far left, east to the Cape North Massif running across most of the photo, and south of east to the tip of Wilkie Sugar Loaf (the triangular prominence at the far right—for a view of Wilkie Sugar Loaf that shows the whole mountain, see this photo). I do not know why the area along the ridge (in the foreground) is unforested, unlike the ridge further south and the Plateau itself, but I am thankful it affords open views. Tired from the ascent (a climb of 274 m (900 ft), if my GPS is to be believed: it records the elevation of the boulder as 312 m (1025 ft) and the elevation of the trail head as 38 m (125 ft)), I was grateful to just sit on the boulder and soak in the lovely views.
Photo #2 looks to the right of the previous view, towards the southeast, across the forested Cape Breton Highlands Plateau towards the prominences visible on North Mountain between Wilkie Sugar Loaf at the left of the photo and Tenerife Mountain at the far right of the photo and outside its scope. Recall that what one sees here are only the uppermost portions of the various prominences: the plateau hides the rest of the mountains; again, contrast this view-of-the-summits with that seen looking along the east side of North Mountain from Sunrise, as here.
As seen in these two photos, the Cape Breton Highlands Plateau is not flat, but rises and falls; moreover, it is cleft at many points by streams which have created deep valleys, hidden from view here, similar to that carved by the Meat Cove Brook seen on the previous page. Three of those, Edwards Brook, Black Point Brook, and the Salmon River cross photo #1 to empty into Bay St Lawrence. MacEacherns Lake, out of which Black Point Brook flows to the north, lies in one of those valleys in photo #2. To get a much better idea of this plateau’s physical form, point your browser to Google Maps, plug in the GPS coördinates of photo #1 in the search bar, and switch (if you’re not already in it) to “earth” view; rotate the view until you see the Cape North Massif, Wilkie Sugar Loaf, and Aspy Bay; you will then have an excellent representation of the plateau north of the Cabot Trail, which you can explore in considerable detail. It is a gorgeous wilderness area indeed!
Photo #3 is taken further to the south than the rest of the photos on this page: I walked along the ridge from the boulder to this spot where the open area will shortly end and the forest begin. The edge of the ridge is at the far right of the photo in the foreground—the rocks seen there are those seen in photo #2 on the previous page, but looking down rather than looking up. The gully before the exposed rocks in the foreground running from the left of the photo to the centre has been carved by water and ice running down the mountain to the valley below; one needs to keep well back from such features as they are often eroded beneath and it’s a long ways down here! The slope seen in the middle ground is gentler than the slope below the open ridge (again seen in photo #2 on the previous page) and has therefore been able to support trees and vegetation to hold it in place all the way down to the valley below.
Photo #4 is a telephoto view of the end of the Cape North Massif. If you stare at it carefully, you can see where the water ends beyond the rocks of the cape and merges into a wall of greyish blue, which extends nearly to the height of the massif before yielding to whiter hues. This wall is a dense fog bank, while the lighter colour above it is thinner haze, some of which blurs the contours of the massif, especially close to its north end. Enough detail remains that one can easily distinguish the cliffs and the shore line, but the indentations of the terrain lack good definition because of the haze.
Photo #5 looks north of northeast across Black Point, the dark forested area in the middle ground, towards the Cabot Strait and Newfoundland. Again, the fog bank close to the water and the layer of whitish haze above it block the view; on a clear day, one would have an excellent view of St Paul Island in the Cabot Strait from this vantage point, as I was reminded when I reviewed the photos I had taken from the ridge in 2009—while those views do have some haze, it is minimal and likely unavoidable given the distance to St Paul Island. I am told that on exträordinarily clear days, it is even possible to see Newfoundland on the other side of the Cabot Strait from this height—so far, I haven’t been so lucky on my trips to this gorgeous area of Cape Breton Island.
I regret I don’t have room in this essay for the many more views available from the ridge; they are easily the widest ranging views I know of in the area. If you can make it up the trail, you are surely in for a treat!