Set off on a Nova Scotia hiking tour featuring Cape Breton’s spectacular coastal scenery, abundant wildlife, and rich Scottish and Acadian history.

With towering headlands overlooking crashing waves, centuries-old hardwood forests, and abundant wildlife, Cape Breton island is teeming with natural wonders. Discover the island’s coastal beauty on a Nova Scotia hiking vacation following the renowned Cabot Trail. Stop to hike the famous Cape Breton Highlands, ascending mountain peaks and crossing into verdant valleys all the while watching for eagles and moose. Along the way, discover the area’s Scottish and Acadian history, traditional cuisine, artists’ studios, and lively ceilidhs. During your journey, you’ll stay in quaint, comfortable lodgings from clapboards inns to a grand ocean-view resort. Set your own schedule on this self-guided Nova Scotia hiking tour, taking time to truly appreciate the stunning scenery and lively culture of this special place.

Highlights

  • Enjoy spectacular coastal views from the Skyline Trail, gazing down from headlands 1,000 feet above the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
  • Indulge in a stay at the Keltic Lodge, an elegant seaside resort, and take advantage of its private beach, luxurious spa, and 18-hole golf course.
  • Enjoy nightly live music performances by local Cape Breton musicians during your stay at the Glenora Inn & Distillery.
  • Delight in the freedom of having your own transportation as you explore the Cabot Trail by car and on foot.
On all Self-Guided Adventures you can count on...
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A local representative available 24/7.
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Detailed maps & route notes featuring turn-by-turn directions and places of interest.
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Delicious meals—many are included.
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Scheduled taxi transfers to bring you to and from each day’s walks.
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Gracious accommodations that are a clean, comfortable home away from home.
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Experts to handle all the details, including moving your luggage between hotels while you’re out exploring.
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Access to a Self-Guided Flight Concierge—ask our knowledgeable team to find flights that sync with your planned trip.

Itinerary

Mon, Jun 15 to Thu, Oct 15 - 2020

Show Itinerary:

Your destination today is the lovely town of Baddeck. In the heart of Cape Breton Island, it is the official starting and ending point of the Cabot Trail, the coastal road around the northern tip of the island completed in 1932, and named for the English explorer John Cabot, who first sighted the island in 1497, staking England’s claim in North America. Baddeck is ideally situated on the northern shore of 60-mile-long Bras d’Or Lake. Alexander Graham Bell maintained his cherished summer home here for 37 years, and the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site houses a museum commemorating his work. Upon arrival, you can explore the town and its historical properties and shops, or relax at your charming inn.

Please Note: Dinner is on your own tonight. Several recommendations will be provided in your Route Notes (mailed to you approximately 30 days prior to your tour); however, should you wish to dine at The Bite House, a highly acclaimed intimate 12-seat restaurant located just outside of town, we suggest making reservations as soon as your tour is confirmed; this restaurant is often booked up a year in advance. Please visit thebitehouse.com for more information.

Accommodation: Dunlop Inn, Baddeck

4+ miles, easy. Total driving time: 2¼ hours

This morning, you can choose to meander through the Margaree River Valley passing through the small communities that call the valley home. Perhaps you’ll consider trying fly-fishing in one of the local rivers or simply learning about the area’s rich history of fishing at the Salmon Museum. Make a visit to the shops and studios of renowned local crafters, including potters, painters, and quilters. Contributing to the area’s culture are the Scottish tenant farmers, or crofters, who came to Cape Breton Island in the early 1800s. Cast out of their highland homes by the English, they brought many of their traditions with them when they settled in Cape Breton. Reaching Margaree Forks, you leave the Cabot Trail to arrive at Inverness, a scenic seaside community and top getaway for the golf set. Choose from two easy walks, the first along an idyllic boardwalk, and the second along a long stretch of soft sand at beautiful Inverness Beach. With the average ocean temperature hovering around 68°F, Inverness Beach is home to the warmest ocean waters north of the Carolinas (including Cape Cod and Long Island). Following a swim or refreshment at the beach café, you make your way south along the Ceilidh Trail (Hwy 19), which snakes along the western coast of Cape Breton Island. This area is renowned for its ceilidh music performances, square dances, and parties. Reaching Mabou, the hot spot of Cape Breton’s Celtic music scene, consider popping into the Red Shoe Pub, owned by the sisters of Nova Scotia’s popular musical family, the Rankins, for a pint or bite to eat. After enjoying the delights of Mabou, travel along back country roads to secluded West Mabou Beach Provincial Park. Highlighted by a wide sweep of sandy beach backed by a dune system, the park offers a several walking trails along the bluffs and through agricultural land and marshes, all with fine views. Your destination for the evening is North America’s first single-malt whiskey distillery (and inn) in the small town of Glenville, where a tour and tasting await. After dinner, be sure to visit the on-site pub to enjoy their daily ceilidh of Cape Breton music and musicians.

Accommodation: The Glenora Inn and Distillery, Glenville
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner (and Whiskey Tasting)

5.2 miles, moderate, 1,100-ft. elevation gain and loss, with some steep sections. Optional walks: 2.9 miles, easy to moderate, 100-ft. elevation gain and 200-ft. elevation loss or 1 mile, easy to moderate, 50-ft. elevation gain and 200-ft. elevation loss. Total driving time: 1 hour

Today you enter the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, a truly stunning portion of the winding Cabot Trail. The Acadian Trail begins near the Chéticamp Visitor Center and rises almost 1,000 feet above the Chéticamp River. As you hike, admire panoramic views along the Acadian Coastline, the river valley, and the park’s highland interior. Follow the trail as it winds to the top of Burnt Mountain, making your way through thick blueberry bushes, keeping an eye out for evidence of bear and moose. Should you prefer an easier walk option—or an additional walk option—head further up the Cabot Trail to Le Buttereau Trailhead. Retrace the steps of the Acadian pioneers who travelled this cart path from Le Buttereau, a small settlement of seven families, to Chéticamp along an easy out-and-back walk or longer loop option. Your home for the next two nights is the fishing village of Chéticamp, originally settled in the 1760s by exiled Acadians from the French territory further south when it was surrendered to the English. This vibrant community has maintained its cultural roots, as you can see from the exquisite hooked rugs and other crafts as you browse the area’s small shops. Here in Chéticamp, you may also be able to catch a Celtic musical performance.

Accommodation: Maison Fiset House, Chéticamp
Included Meals: Breakfast

5.7 miles, easy to moderate, 400-ft. elevation gain and loss. Afternoon option: 4 miles, easy to moderate, 450-ft. elevation gain and loss. Total driving time: 1 hour

This morning’s walking route is the famous Skyline Trail, with its spectacular views from 1,000 feet above sea level. You begin at about 950 feet and reach a maximum of 1,300 feet, so you are not climbing all the way to that elevation. From the dramatic headland cliff, you can trace the Cabot Trail around the mountainsides and, on a very clear day, you may be able to see the French archipelago of Les Îles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It is not uncommon to sight whales in the water far below, and, along the trail, moose and eagles. After a picnic lunch, you may choose to set off on an exciting whale-watching boat tour out of Chéticamp—humpback, minke, pilot, and fin whales are common in this Gulf corridor called the Cape Breton Trough. Alternatively, the Corney Brook trail follows a meandering brook through mixed hardwood forest to a small waterfall—again keep an eye out for moose, birds, and snowshoe hare.

Accommodation: Maison Fiset House, Chéticamp
Included Meals: Breakfast

0.3 miles, easy. 0.4 miles, easy. 4.8 miles, easy. Total driving time: 2 hours

This morning you have two easy (and very short) warm-up walks. The Bog trail takes you on a boardwalk through a highland plateau bog with interpretive plaques along the way introducing you to the fascinating flora and fauna that make the up the bog’s unique ecosystem. The Lone Shieling loop trail begins at a historic crofter’s hut and leads through a hardwood forest of sugar maple trees, some of which are 350 years old! Continuing your drive along the northernmost part of the Cabot Trail, to the White Point Trail, where you’ll find some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in Cape Breton. Reaching a grassy point, you’ll gaze out to sweeping views of Aspy Bay, as waves crash on the rocky coast below. A small cemetery at the tip of the point dates back to the settlement of this area in the late 1700s. Return to the trailhead and continue to your day’s destination, the award-winning Keltic Lodge Resort & Spa, stunningly located on a peninsula jutting into the Atlantic, with a backdrop view of Cape Smokey.

Accommodation: Keltic Lodge, Ingonish Beach
Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

4.6 miles, moderate with a challenging section, 1,150-ft. elevation gain and loss. Optional walks: 5 miles, easy and 2.4 miles, easy. Total driving time: 10 minutes

This morning, you may opt for the exhilarating walk up Franey Mountain, a steep and steady ascent through Acadian forest and a stand of hardwoods. Rising from sea level, your surroundings change to balsam fir, with trailing arbutus and pipsisawa underfoot. At Franey’s peak, you are rewarded with a panoramic view of the open sea with Middle Head and Cape Smokey to the east, Money Point to the south, and the Clyburn Valley below. Another walk available today (either instead of, or in addition to your morning outing), is a path through Clyburn Valley at the base of Franey Mountain. This riverside walk takes you on a path through spectacular stands of hardwood trees, impressive boulders (some bigger than cars!), old abandoned beaver ponds, verdant meadows, and fragrant apple trees. You’ll pass the remains of an old gold mine—gold was never discovered in the area, and after years of fruitless effort the mine finally closed in 1916. Returning to your resort, you may opt for a dip in the heated outdoor pool or enjoy the spa facilities. Those with more energy to burn may also choose to walk from the hotel on the Middle Head Trail that snakes out on the cliff-bound peninsula that divides Ingonish Bay.

Accommodation: Keltic Lodge, Ingonish Beach
Included Meals: Breakfast

This morning, options include a relaxed stroll on the pink granite stones of Ingonish Beach, or perhaps a round of golf at the renowned Highland Links course, or indulging in the spa’s offerings before departing for onward travels. (Golf and spa fees are not included in tour price, advance reservations required.)
Included Meals: Breakfast

Accommodations

What's Included

Tour Only
Boutique accommodations Check
8 meals: 6 breakfasts and 2 dinners Check
Detailed water- and tear-resistant Route Notes and maps Check
Orientation meeting or phone call with a Country Walkers representative Check
Local representative available 24/7 Check
Entrance fees and special events as noted in the itinerary: Cape Breton Highlands National Park Pass and distillery tour and tasting Check
Travel assistance available 24/7 provided by Allianz Global Assistance Check
Access to Self-Guided Flight Concierge—Ask our knowledgeable team to find flights that sync perfectly with your planned trip. Check
Morocco: Marrakesh, Foothills of the High Atlas & Essaouira

Dates & Prices

2020 Dates Number of Travelers Pre Hotel Night Post Hotel Night
2-3 4+ Single Supplement
Solo Surcharge
2+ Single Supplement
2+ Single Supplement
Jun 15 - Oct 15 $2,148 $2,148 $948 $548 Call for Pricing Call for Pricing Call for Pricing Call for Pricing
This tour is available daily, on request, from June 15 through October 15, 2020. Unlike other Country Walkers Adventures, this trip requires guests to drive from destination to destination, either using your own vehicle or renting one (rental cost not included in tour price). All prices are per person, based on double occupancy.

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