MacKinnons Brook Lane is the usual way of referring to the road that connects the Mabou Post Road Trail Head to a summer residence at MacKinnons Brook. Since residents still dwell along this road, at least in the summer, the province has not abandoned it, but continues a minimal level of maintainence; there are spots, however, where a low-slung vehicle will often get into trouble with no good turn-around spot, so I would not venture my car on it. But there is really no reason to, as it is a beautiful trail in its own right, well worth hiking.
Within the Cape Mabou Trail System, this road is known as the Cul Na Beinne (Beyond the Mountains) Trail, derived from the historic name for the area through which this road passes. From the Mabou Post Road Trail Head, it follows a course east of northeast along the base first of Cross Mountain and then the “Beaton Mountains”, climbing gently but pretty steadily, to reach a spot marked by a white bridge, just before which it has turned to the north towards the mouth of MacKinnons Brook. North of the white bridge, the trail climbs sharply up to a col, where the Trap à Mhathain (Bear Trap) Trail and the Oir à Ghlinne (Edge of the Valley) Trail each take off in separate directions, after which it descends steadily through the MacKinnons Brook valley down to a spot just above the MacKinnons Brook Trail Head where it turns to the southwest; it offers occasional fine views through the forest of Beinn Bhiorach (Steep Mountain) during this descent.
A “W. J. McIsaac” had a homestead near the white bridge around 1880 and its unexcavated remains are still there, along with an apple tree beside the bridge, doubtless planted by the early settlers, that still bears fruit (albeit very sour fruit). It is a lovely spot to walk for a lunchtime or afternoon picnic on a sunny day, with marvellous views of the Highlands on all sides and a singing brook for soothing music. When you return to the Mabou Post Road Trail Head, you will follow beside MacIsaacs Glen Brook, which passes underneath the white bridge and a newer, smaller, plank bridge close to the MacPhee Trail junction; not far west of that junction, MacIsaacs Glen Brook runs into Mill Brook at the eastern end of Cross Mountain. The combined streams then follow the trail out past the trail head and continue, as previously seen, through MacDonalds Glen and into Finlay Point Harbour, where they empty into the Gulf.
I did not make the hike this day to the white bridge, though I’d have loved to have done so with a bit more time—it gets dark early in forested valleys below the plateau. Instead, I continued on my very leisurely pace back to the trail head, stopping at four points along the way for photos, among which are those on this page that I selected from those I took.
I reached the bottom of the MacPhee Trail and plunked myself down across from its entrance, seen in photo #1. If you look closely near the upper right corner of the photo, you can see the initial switchback—the trail goes to the right well outside the scope of the photo and then loops back on itself as it starts briskly up the mountain.
Photo #2 looks to the east along the Cul Na Beinne (Beyond the Mountains) Trail. A lot of leaves litter the trail here, yet many of the trees still have leaves. Given the orange leaves along the trail, they are likely from the beeches, as the yellows of the birches are still mostly on the trees.
Photo #3 looks to the west down the trail. A few maples have established themselves here, as the bright yellow leaves on the tree right of centre are maple leaves, as are the green leaves near the top of the photo, but not the green leaves at the centre of the photo, which appear to be unturned beech leaves. MacIsaacs Glen Brook is at the far left of this photo and outside its scope; Mill Brook is further away in the forest (again out of scope), but on a path heading towards the trail beyond the curve at the left of the photo. Another lovely spot to rest and admire the beauty of the woods on all sides while listening to the songs of the brook!
Photo #4 looks up at the very colourful south side of Cross Mountain, with a variety of colours on offer. The reds right of centre are maple leaves and there are likely other maples in the photo as well; the oranges further up the mountain side are beeches and the yellows are likely birches. Most trees still have leaves, but bare trees are not scarce. And along the valley of Mill Brook, greens are in good supply.
Photo #5 is a backwards glance at a lovely orange beech tree interspersed with some green and yellow birch leaves in a blaze of glory lit up by the sun. What a truly lovely afternoon it was!
Photo #6 looks at another lovely orange and red/orange tree along the Cul Na Beinne (Beyond the Mountains) Trail. The leaves at the base are clearly maple leaves of a red-orange hue; at least some of those further up are beech leaves, more golden orange than red-orange. And behind are yellow leaves, likely birch. A lovely composite set against the flanks of Cross Mountain!
Photo #7 is the same scene, but with a much wider angle of view; Mill Brook, for it was earlier joined by MacIsaacs Glen Brook, can be seen in the shadows at the left of the photo, singing merrily as it flows over the rocks in its bed.
Photo #8 shows some bright red-orange maple leaves in the centre set between yellow and green birch leaves on the right and, as best as I can make out, orange beech leaves at the far left, separated by some evergreens and unchanged green leaves, likely maple.
Photo #9 looks at Mill Brook flowing along the trail where greens still predominate, though the upper parts of trees have changed colours and, in some cases, lost many of their leaves. Closer to the trail head, Mill Brook disappears into a small chasm and one immediately notices that its song is greatly muted. Like the Trap à Mhathain (Bear Trap) Trail, which follows the lilting MacIsaacs Glen Brook for nearly all its distance up to the MacEachen Trail on the Cape Mabou Plateau, the singing Mill Brook is a most welcome companion along this part of the Cul Na Beinne (Beyond the Mountains) Trail!