Rising To The Road | The Cabot Trail (Day One)

The stunning scenery along on Cape Breton's Cabot Trail, including Ingonish Beach, Middle Head Trail, Neil's Harbor and a Skyline Trail Sunset, made for a drive-lover's dream ride

The Cabot Trail is 185 mile loop in and out of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park and along the coast on the northern top of Cape Breton Island. It is so chock-full of hikes, walks, ocean views, lush greenery, artisan shops and exploration that we left feeling that driving it at least ten more times, or with a season access pass over an entire summer, was probably the only way to properly take in that beautiful marvel.

My Love has wanted to drive the Cabot Trail (and the full Québec Maritime) for years, and truth be told, that desire was the pull and sway of our Canadian loop. After joining him to accomplish this, I clearly see why. Cape Breton was a happy place for us, where we really took a rest, moved slowly and enjoyed soaking up our surroundings. We didn't have an entire season to repeatedly drive the Cabot Trail. But after our first day, as captured below, we promptly decided that a second was non-negotiably necessary.

On Day One we began with a quick stop on Ingonish Beach, where we were shocked to see the World's Cutest Human was unfazed by the sand, water or wind (she is usually a total diva). She stripped down to her diaper and had the best time playing in the water and on the beach, and we had the best time watching her, with the Middle Head Trail (where we were headed next) in the background.

Walking on Ingonish Beach. Mind you, we began the stop fully clothed.

Walking on Ingonish Beach. Mind you, we began the stop fully clothed.


But, playing in the water and with our shadow was too enticing to remain dressed.

But, playing in the water and with our shadow was too enticing to remain dressed.


The Middle Head Trail was rated low to mid-level difficulty. It's a seemingly straight even-keeled path, but the gentle slopes and rises throughout the 2.5-3 hour hike had us more than tuckered out by the end. My Love carried the WCH (I can't do it!) and he was doubly tired, though I don't know how it was possible to feel any more worn out than I (so, maybe we were even beat). 

Then, we began the hike out to the end of Middle Head Trail (about 2.5-3 hours - we picnicked, extending our visit).

Then, we began the hike out to the end of Middle Head Trail (about 2.5-3 hours - we picnicked, extending our visit).




Out at the very tip end of the Middle Head Trail.

Out at the very tip end of the Middle Head Trail.

We got back in the car around 3 PM (we got too late of a start, at nearly 11 AM) and looked at each other a little worried; Middle Head Trail was our first real stop after Ingonish Beach, both of which are at the very beginning of the Cabot Trail. We were already completely knackered with the entire rest of the trail to drive.

We decided to just shoot the drive since we'd be too tired to hike anything else and were afraid to run out of daylight (a drive designed to soak up sights is pretty worthless in the dark). After hearing that the Skyline Trail was breathtaking at sunset, we took off. We swung into Neil's Harbor for a rolling sneak peek (though I stopped the roll for photos, not surprisingly), and off into the Hideaway Campground & Oyster Market for a few shellfish (it's a curse, we can't resist fresh oysters). Otherwise it was a beeline drive (with both of us struggling to stay awake, our bodies were so tired) for the Skyline Trail.

We swung through Neil's Harbor so I could jump out of the truck and go shutter-snappy.

We swung through Neil's Harbor so I could jump out of the truck and go shutter-snappy.


The chowder house seemed to be the main attraction in Neil's Harbor

The chowder house seemed to be the main attraction in Neil's Harbor

We reached the Skyline just as Mother Nature was pulling the sun out of the sky, and we raced out as far as we could onto the trail to catch a glimpse of the action. After passing a coyote (I was in protective mother mode and forgot to photograph the beauty), we walked far enough to see the great glowing globe sink over the horizon and then scurried back to the truck before darkness fell. As the place where the sky meets the sea made that transition into night, we turned the truck home, determined to come back for more the next day.

Sunset on the Skyline Trail, Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia.

Sunset on the Skyline Trail, Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia.