2014 News and Discoveries

On this page, I will discuss news items I’ve learned about and existing trails I’ve explored this year that are new to me. While some of the material here necessarily duplicates that which will eventually be found in the individual trail descriptions, my goal here is to recount the hikes and my reäctions to them, not to present the trails in detail.


Cape Mabou Trail Club News

The Cape Mabou Trail Club now has its own web site: its home page is here. The site is chock-a-block full of useful information for the hiker, including a trails map and brief trail descriptions. Perhaps most useful is a list of news and trail updates, with recent work on the trails noted. The Club now also has a presence on Facebook: search for “Cape Mabou Trail Club”; the information there is largely a repeat of what is on the club’s news and trail updates web page, but, as of this writing, is a bit more current.

Most of the trails are now reöpened; as of 2014 August 28, however, the Bear Trap Trail still has some windfalls that are not cleared, but is otherwise open for hiking; the Rocky Hillside and Poet's Ridge Trails have not been cleared of deadfalls; and the Enchanted Valley Trail has not been completely cleared and is especially weedy at the top.

On 23 June, before much of the summer’s trail work had occurred, a friend and I hiked to the summit of Beinn Bhiorach from the Cape Mabou Trail Head (on the Cape Mabou Road northwest of Glenora Falls). The MacEachen Trail was in generally very good shape, though it had numerous deadfalls that had to be skirted. The Highland Forest Trail was also in fine shape, though with some high plant growth, until one reached the final portion that descends to the col below Beinn Bhiorach and then ascends to its summit, a section which was blocked by several windfalls, some of which were difficult to skirt. It was well worth the effort, as the day’s crystal clear air and bright, warm sun (low 20’s (70’s)) made for gorgeous views of Cape Mabou and beyond from the summit—even Prince Edward Island was easily visible across the Gulf of St Lawrence with some help from optics (my friend’s binoculars and my 300 mm camera lens I call Big Bertha). It was one of the clearest days I have ever been on Beinn Bhiorach and I took full advantage of it! We returned via the Highland Forest Trail, the MacArthur Trail, the Highland Link Trail, and the MacEachen Trail. The MacArthur Trail and Highland Link Trail were in relatively good shape, though ferns and grasses were already beginning to hide the trail (trail markers on the trees make it hard to lose the trail).

The Cape Mabou Trail Club actively maintains the trails, but their resources are limited. If you can contribute funds to keep these trails hikeable and clear, please send them to the address listed here; even small amounts help. And if you can volunteer your time to work on the trails, please contact Nadine Hunt for instructions on where your efforts would be most useful.

Celtic Shores Coastal Trail Improvements

I hiked several sections of the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail (Railway Trail/Trans-Canada Trail) this summer. I noticed continuing improvements along them; they may not have been made during the past year, but they were new since the last time I hiked those segments.

  • A kiosk with panels containing much the same information as at the other trail head kiosks is now present beside Beach Road Number 1 in Inverness (across from the Inverness Cottage Workshop).
  • Park benches overlooking MacIsaacs Pond (Inverness Harbour) and a fine interpretive panel are not far down the trail near the Judique Flyer replica.
  • A picnic table and a fine interpretive panel are now located on the south end of the Deepdale Trestle over the Broad Cove River.
  • A look-off over the Mabou River with park benches and another fine interpretive panel is now found east of Highway 19 in Mabou not very far down the trail from the highway.

An announcement on the trail’s Facebook page in early September indicates that the surface of the section between Port Hood and Highway 19 in Southwest Mabou is being upgraded with new ditching, grading, and rolling preparatory to laying topcoat surfacing in those portions of the trail which lacked it in that area.

It is amazing to see all these improvements continually being made year after year. These upgrades are done by dedicated volunteers who deserve our thanks for all the planning and hard work that has gone into the trail over the years: the trail sure has come a long way since I first started hiking it nearly fifteen years ago! Hope to see you out enjoying this world-class trail.


Grey Mountain Trail

The Grey Mountain Trail is a newly cut trail whose trail head is on the Cape St Lawrence Trail at GPS 47°01.808′N 60°35.281′W. Grey Mountain is the local name for Bear Hill’s companion prominence to the southwest. The Cape St Lawrence Trail (also known as the Lighthouse Trail) passes over the col between Bear Hill and Grey Mountain, where a look-off above the Bear Hill Escarpment affords splendid views of Cape St Lawrence. The Grey Mountain trail head is directly across from that look-off and marked with a sign nailed to a tree. The trail, clearly marked with red blazes and orange flagging tape, ascends briskly to the summit of Grey Mountain and crosses over it to its southwestern end (at GPS 47°01.485′N 60°35.583′W), a distance of some 750 m (½ mi), where a rock ledge offers grand open views of the area from the mountains west of Meat Cove around to Lowland Point and on to “Tittle Hill”. The views are excellent for gaining an understanding of the course of French Brook and its tributaries, which appear as lines in the trees far below, and, more generally, of the layout of the terrain—it is very like to having a living map at one’s feet. The summit is fairly narrow and, from the main trail, short side trails lead to the west (ending at GPS 47°01.507′N 60°35.574′W and 47°01.645′N 60°35.417′W), offering views extending from “Tittle Hill” to Cape St Lawrence to the coast northwest of Bear Hill. If one bushwhacks a few metres/yards off the trail to the east, rock ledges (at GPS 47°01.584′N 60°35.452′W and 47°01.651′N 60°35.387′W) offer views not accessible from the southwestern look-off, including Bear Hill, the several ponds east of Grey Mountain, and the area between Grey Mountain and the mountains west of Meat Cove. This trail is a most worthy addition to the trails in the Meat Cove area; it can be hiked on its own or made part of a longer hike to Cape St Lawrence.

Whycocomagh Trail

The Whycocomagh Trail was opened last fall and used for snowshoeing during the winter. The trail begins across Johnson Lane behind the fire hall in Whycocomagh and continues along the sides of Whycocomagh Mountain to Churchview, where it ends at SANS 104, about 3 km (1.8 mi) one way. (If one wanted to, one could descend SANS 104 to Highway 252 at the Bell Aliant Building in Churchview, which adds 390 m (¼ mi) and more climbing to the hike.) The trail is multi-use and wide with a tread that varies between crushed stone, packed dirt, and rock-reïnforced gravel. It has three bridges over brooks and two park benches. The way the trail curls up and around the flanks of Whycocomagh Mountain is often picturesque. A good bit of climbing is involved, more on the outbound hike from the fire hall and considerably less on the return hike, which is mostly downhill. The trail offers excellent views of Salt Mountain, Whycocomagh Mountain, Skye Mountain, Campbells Mountain, and Whycocomagh Bay; it passes beneath or close to the cleared areas through which power lines run. That is both a blessing and a curse: many fine open views result, but most have power lines intruding into them. This is an interesting trail that I very much enjoyed exploring.

Chronological List of My 2014 Cape Breton Hikes

Date Where Route
17 June
Meat Cove hiked the Lowland Cove Trail,
from Meat Cove to Lowland Cove,
returning as I went
23 June
Cape Mabou hiked the MacEachen Trail to the Highland Forest Trail
and it to the summit of Beinn Bhiorach
returning via the Highland Forest Trail, the MacArthur Trail,
the Highland Link Trail, and the MacEachen Trail
27 June
Cape Breton Highlands National Park hiked the Skyline Trail,
taking the right fork where the loop trail begins
and returning via the left fork
2 July
St Georges Bay hiked the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail
from Walkers Cove to kilometre marker 21
and returned as I went
8 July
Whycocomagh hiked the new Whycocomagh Trail from its start behind the fire hall
to its junction with SANS 104 in Churchview,
returning as I went
9 July
Glendyer hiked the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail from Highway 252 in Glendyer
to the trestle over Glendyer Brook,
returning as I went
11 July
Smithville hiked the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail
from the trestle over Glendyer Brook
to the Blackstone Road, returning as I went
14 August
Glendyer hiked the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail
from Highway 252 to the Cèilidh Trail (Highway 19),
returning as I went
22 August
Deepdale hiked the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail
from the Deepdale Road to the Miners’ Museum in Inverness,
returning as I went with a short side excursion on SANS 105
and continuing south a bit beyond kilometre marker 85
and then returning to the Deepdale Road
27 August
Meat Cove hiked the new Grey Mountain trail to the southwestern end of the summit,
returning as I went
2 September
Cape Breton Highlands National Park hiked the Macintosh Brook trail to the falls,
returning as I went
7 October
Meat Cove hiked the Meat Cove Mountain Trail to the north summit,
returning as I went
21 October
Cape Mabou from the Mabou Post Road Trail Head, hiked up
the Beinn Alasdair Bhain (Fair Alistair’s Mountain) Trail to the look-off
and continued on to the relocated trail junction on the MacPhee Trail,
descended the relocated trail for a short distance and then retraced my steps,
then followed the MacPhee Trail to the Cul Na Beinne Trail (MacKinnons Brook Lane)
and it back to the Mabou Post Road Trail Head
23 October
Mabou hiked the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail from Highway 19
south to kilometre marker 61 and retraced my steps,
then crossed the Highway to kilometre marker 64
and returned as I went