Nomadic Life – Week 14
On Saturday morning we woke up early to start our weekend fun. The rain had stopped but the clouds were still lingering. Our destination for today was a drive up the western coast of Cape Breton Island which is the top portion of Nova Scotia. Cape Breton is where we were to spend most of our nomadic life – Week 14.
Even on an overcast day, this coastal drive is beautiful. There is apparently a 57-mile hike and bike trail here known as the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail. We might have to come back and bike this one summer as it looks to be a very picturesque ride.
Cape Breton Highland National Park
In the afternoon we rolled into Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Once passing through the park’s gate the terrain immediately gets steep. The mountains rise up out of the ocean 1,500’ into the air. The road is tucked into the coastline with some of the steepest grades I have ever driven. If not for the cold weather this entire drive up the western edge of the park would seem to be more at home on a Hawaiian island rather than a Canadian one.
The Skyline Trail
Late in the afternoon, we arrived at the Skyline Trail. This is a short but stunningly beautiful trail even under cloudy skies. We saw four times as many people on this trail as we had on the entire drive up the west coast of the park. However, even given the number of people the wildlife was abundant. On our 2-hour hike around the loop trail, we found two female moose and a big bull moose, two bald eagles and at least three pods of pilot whales. Granted the whales could only be seen through binoculars in the waters far below, but it was still really cool.
Meat Cove Campground
It was getting late in the day when we arrived at the truck so we quickly pushed on to our campground on the northern tip of the island. We would have arrived before nightfall had we not gotten stuck in a 30-minute road construction delay. I am impressed that they were working so late on a Saturday night, but it was unfortunate for us. Our intended campground was Meat Cove, rated as the number one camping spot in all of Nova Scotia.
The campground is in a tiny remote community located on the very northern edge of the island. There is only one road in and it is a rutted dirt road for the last few miles. Unfortunately, we arrived 15 minutes after the sunset. The campground is so precariously perched on the cliffs that the campground doesn’t allow people in after dark. The night manager took pity on us and let us park in the restaurant’s parking lot for the night.
A Day Full of Hiking
Sunday was a big day for us. We awoke to a clear dark sky and four hiking trails on our to-do list. We watched as the sun rose over the Atlantic ocean. The campground was revealed to us for the first time. I can see why this is rated as the number one site in Nova Scotia and can now clearly understand the risk involved with parking here after dark.
Meat Mountain Trail
We hit the road quickly, making the short drive to a hidden trail-head off the side of the dirt access road. The parking area was big enough for YOLOM and YOLOM only. This was our first hike of the day up Meat Mountain. This trail has sweeping views not only over the coastal town of Meat Cove but also the surrounding highlands back to the south. The climb up is strenuous. Apparently, Nova Scotia builds their trails like they build their roads… straight up. No concept of a switchback here.
Next, we drove east on another steep dirt road and hiked a 2-mile flat trail out to an overlook on the Kauzmann Trail. Here we found more sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and our easternmost destination on this entire trip. We also found another bald eagle who almost got a little too interested in my drone.
White Point Trail
The third hike was easier still. We drove to White Point on the eastern side of the island and made our way out to the cliffs along the shores of the Atlantic. The waves were coming in rough making for some scenic crashes on the ever eroding cliffs. The sound the water makes as it retreats from the rounded boulders is mesmerizing.
Black Brook Loop
The last hike of the day was the shortest. We drove south back into the eastern part of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park and hiked the short loop at Black Brook Beach. Here we found another coastal hike along the cliffs but this time the coastal land was covered in trees. A very nice and easy hike to finish out our long day.
All four hikes were amazing but when we rolled into the Broad Cove Campground as the sun was setting we were ready for food and sleep.
The Franey Trail
Because we like to wear ourselves out in this Nomadic life we chose to do a 4.6-mile trail with over 1,100’ of elevation gain the very next morning. This was the Franey Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The Franey Trail is a loop. When done clockwise the elevation is all undertaken in the first mile and a half. We were rewarded with some amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean along with a view of one of the amazing Highland valleys. Unfortunately, as we made our way to the top a storm rolled in and our views were shrouded in rain. It was still a very nice hike full of autumn color.
Middle Head Trail
The next morning we were once again on the trail early. This time it was a short drive to the Middle Head Trailhead. This is a stunning hike along a peninsula jutting into the Atlantic. The cliff views are amazing. We found some seals diving in the surf and a very odd hawk which a few locals told us was a baby hawk. It was a great easy trail and one I highly recommend to anyone visiting the area.
Waiting Out the Rain
We drove south to the town of Baddeck where we spent the next forty hours working and waiting out the rain at the Adventures East Campground. This was one of the nicest campgrounds we have stayed in and the owner was very accommodating. It rained non-stop for almost 24 hours.
Uisage Ban Falls
On Thursday morning it was still drizzling, but we decided to hit the remote trail to Uisage Ban Falls before continuing south back to the mainland of Nova Scotia. The hike to the falls is an easy one but Jennifer is a little under the weather so we took it slow. The falls crash into a small gorge and then cascade down the creek bed. It is a very nice spot but requires quite a few miles on unpaved roads.
A Drive on the Eastern Side of Nova Scotia
Friday morning after a resupply at another Atlantic Superstore we pushed down to the eastern coast of Nova Scotia. Our destination was the Murphy’s Camping on the Ocean campground located north of Halifax. The drive down was a beautiful surprise. The heart of the mainland was covered with trees in full autumn colors. The coastal towns looked out over small evergreen islands in each of the many bays. It was a beautiful drive and a great way to end the week.