Photo #1 looks at much of St Anns Harbour. Goose Cove is at the left; the North River is behind Murray Point at the centre right. Seymour Point, across from Murray Point on the far side of North River, marks the end of the river and the start of the harbour. From Exit 11 in South Haven, the Cabot Trail circles around the far side of St Anns Harbour, staying close to the water throughout much of its course, and offering fine views of both the harbour and Kellys Mountain, from which this photo was taken; the houses seen near the water are a good indication of its route. The topographical map labels the low-lying hill to the right of Seymour Point as Rooster Hill. Mountain Road, accessed from the Cabot Trail at the head of Goose Cove, climbs up back of Rooster Hill and comes out in North River Bridge, to the right and outside the scope of this photo, after passing through the well-named locality of Meadow; I drove that road a couple of years ago and was frustrated that there were no views of the harbour from the road, but I cheered up considerably when I reached Meadow, where there are fine views of the Highlands to the north and west. The topographical map also labels as Spotted Mountain the much higher edge of the Cape Breton Highlands Plateau that runs well behind Rooster Hill.
Photo #2, which overlaps with photo #1, looks to its left. The prominence right of centre is the aptly named Bald Mountain, which I will discuss in greater detail below. Goose Cove is at the far right of the photo; Munro Point is right of centre, and the water seen at the centre is an arm of the harbour that leads to Upper MacLeods Point before splitting into North Gut St Anns and South Gut St Anns.
Photo #3, which also overlaps with photo #1, looks to its right. In this view, Rooster Hill is at the far left, Spotted Mountain is at the left, and Murray Mountain spans the entire photo, rising from Murray Point, out of scope at the left, towards the summit, out of scope at the right. These three segments can only begin to approximate the gorgeous view to the west from the St Anns Look-Off.
But, wait! There’s more! Photo #4 looks to the northwest from the look-off, with Murray Mountain and the Cape Breton Highlands beyond at the left across the harbour and Englishtown and a lower ridge of Kellys Mountain on this side of the harbour at the right. This view extends all the way to Cape Smokey and is as amazing as the view to the west; alas, the day I was here, hazy air obstructed the views to the far north, so I haven’t included here any of the photos I took in that direction (see the previous page for a hazy view from the South Haven pull-off). St Anns Harbour is nearly sealed off from St Anns Bay by the curvy spit of land seen at the right; the waters inside the harbour behind the spit of land are known as Jersey Cove. Only a narrow (150 m (0.1 mi)) channel with very fast-moving currents allows the waters of St Anns Harbour to enter St Anns Bay. Highway 312 is the road seen crossing that spit of land, connecting Exit 12 on the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 105) to Indian Brook, where it meets the Cabot Trail as the latter comes out from behind the northern end of Murray Mountain along the Barrachois River. The cable ferry seen at the right currently on the Englishtown side transports vehicles across that narrow channel. Unless the waiting line is long, as it sometimes is in high summer, taking Highway 312 saves a lot of time for those in a hurry to reach Ingonish and points north, avoiding the much longer, often curving, but oh so scenic, Cabot Trail around St Anns Harbour.
Photo #5 is a telephoto view of the entrance to St Anns Harbour, with Jersey Cove at the left and St Anns Bay at the right. On this lovely fall morning, a number of cars are parked on the Jersey Cove side, but only one of them is in the queue for the ramp; two other cars are currently on the spit and should have no trouble making it across the when the ferry next reaches the Jersey Cove ramp—it crosses every five minutes, or less if it gets a full load in less than that.
Photo #6 was taken on the previous afternoon with Big Bertha, looking across at a fold of Murray Mountain that was catching the declining afternoon sun. I have said nothing about the foliage in the previous photos on this page, but a look at them shows that the colours along Murray Mountain and St Anns Bay were far brighter than those on the Highlands inland and fairly close to their peak. There are few bare trees in this view; the relatively few reds appear more orangish than red in the golden colour of the afternoon sun.
Photo #7 shows a side of Murray Mountain where the forest is majority deciduous, bordered by evergreens, with a near-peak foliage gleaming in the morning sun. Bare trees are to be seen on the upper parts of the mountain, but in the glen just above the cliffs lining the harbour, the trees show the full range of fall colours, with one very brilliant red tree at the centre of the photo just above the evergreens. The white markers in the waters off the cliffs clearly identify some kind of fishing activity, but for what I don’t know.
The foliage in photo #8 makes an interesting contrast with that of the previous photos; far more bare trees are visible here, though some colours remain, particularly in the lower, better protected regions. The main feature of interest, however, is the long stony cliff face the topographical map labels as Bald Mountain; it also labels a hillock at the left end of Bald Mountain as “The Lookoff” (its spelling). This ridge lies within the North River Wilderness Area, whose description ends with the sentence “Other, less established, hiking opportunities are found in the south west of the area, where a day hike to the top of Bald Mountain is rewarded with a stunning view of the surrounding countryside.” This mention was the first time I’d heard of any trail there, whether well-established or otherwise, but a Google search turns up The Great Canadian Adventure Company that offers this trip description, which includes a 35 km horseback ride from a ranch in the Baddeck River area to Bald Mountain and “the ghost settlement of Big Glen” and the Peakery web site, which does list the summit, but has no reports of anyone hiking there yet. Certainly, if one could get there, the views should be magnificent from the open ridge.