Gorgeous Cape Bretton Highlands

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June 2nd 2016
Published: October 1st 2017
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Geo: 46.0999, -60.7526

Sunny and cool

After a quick brekkies and coffee, we headed towards Cape Breton National Park. It was a gorgeous day! The first part of the drive is through a few fishing villages, where many homes and waterfront lots are for sale. The signs are in English and Canadian Gaelic, which is close to Scots Gaelic. Then, we reached the entrance to the Park. We went to the info centre, where the host was very helpful showing us the map and recommending places to walk. Many of the places she recommended we had also decided upon, but it was great to get some additional advice.

Our first stop was Middle Head. The website describes it, "The trail follows a long, narrow peninsula separating two ocean bays, ending on headland cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Smokey and Ingonish Island. 
There are opportunities to see seabirds, seals, whales and eagles, as well as fishing boats in the early summer. Length: 3.8 km (2.4 mi) loop." It was our favourite hike of the day! Such stunning views along the cliffs, especially during the second half of the hike. We saw lots of seagulls nesting but no other wildlife.

Then we had a quick lunch
in Ingonish at a small café – just a sandwich and coffee.

The road winds up and around some steep hillsides, and the views of the sea were stunning. We stopped several times for photographs. At Green Cove, the pink granite was amazing!

We took the minor road out to White Point, which is a fishing village. Almost no signs of tourism there!

Returning to the main road, our next stop was Lone Shieling: “Dominated by 350 year old sugar maple trees, the Grande Anse Valley is one of the largest old growth hardwood forests in the Maritimes. One of the most protected areas of the park, access is restricted to this short trail. A replica of a Scottish crofter's hut is found at the beginning of the trail. Find out why it's here. Keep an eye out for wildlife – moose like it here too. Length: 0.6 km (0.4 mi) loop.” The crofter's hut was fine, but had a stone floor. The “find out why” – which had been repeated by the ranger at the info station – revealed that it was part of a farmer's will. Strange they make it sound so mysterious. The walk was fine; the flies were horrible. (But the only place they were bad at all…😉

Not too far away, we went to MacIntosh Brook. “Imagine a nice, easy, fairly level stroll along a babbling brook and through a mature hardwood forest with a scenic waterfall at the end. Add to that the songs of forest birds and you have this relaxing trail. Length: 1.7 km (1.1 mi) loop.” It was very pretty, walking on dead leaves along the small brook, to see the waterfall.

We then had a bit of drive over the hills, with views of different bays, and through construction zones (no with too long of a wait) to the Bog, which was a short walk on a boardwalk, through a bog. No moose, but we did see a bird that is spotted there but rarely (according to the sign). “In keeping with Parks Canada's mandate to protect the natural environment, a boardwalk keeps your feet dry as you walk while preventing you from trampling the fragile life in this highland plateau bog. A self guiding trail, signs explain life here – pitcher plants, delicate orchids, colourful dragonflies, green frogs and gigantic moose. Length: 0.5 km (0.3 mi) loop.” We also took photos of flowers.

final hike was Benjie's Lake, which was not as cool as the description made it sound. “On the plateau at the top of the mountain, this trail crosses wet barrens and evergreen forests typical of the highlands, ending at a small lake. Boardwalks in some sections keep you dry and protect the habitat from trampling. Moose are frequently seen as well as a variety of northern birds. Length: 3 km (1.9 mi) return.” Because a group of 15 people was there just before us (they arrived to the lake at the same time we did…😉, the chances of seeing moose was nearly zip. But we did see a snake.

We had dinner in Cheticamp, the Acadian town on the west coast of the cape. The food was fine, and they had started with live music (fiddle and keyboard) in the lounge, when it was time for us to leave.

We arrived home about 8:45pm and went straight to the hot tub. Then I journaled and did some work-work.

Additional photos below
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