A tour through Cape Breton Highlands National Park rates as the top highlight of a Nova Scotia vacation. With the Cabot Trail winding through the park, forested highlands dipping towards the ocean, and lovely clean beaches, the national park endures as a vacation favorite.
Head to the park to enjoy the outdoors, cultural museums, and friendly local hospitality.
Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Highlands
The Cabot Trail driving route begins and ends in Baddeck on the Bras d’Or Lakes, but the most dramatic stretch of the drive travels through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Beginning in Cheticamp in the west or Ingonish in the east, the route climbs and descends valleys, skirts the coast, and provides endless photo opportunities at roadside lookouts.
The full Cabot Trail measures about 300 km (186 miles), but the 100-km (62-mile) stretch through the national park is most spectacular. Stop in the designated pullout areas to admire the scenery and photograph. While it’s possible to drive the route in one long day, adding in a picnic on a beach, a highland hike, or a whale watching tour will mean two days is far better to complete the circuit.
Visitors can drive the route in both directions. Clockwise provides access to the larger visitor center in Chéticamp first and is the preferred route for those arriving on Cape Breton Island. Counter-clockwise puts the vehicle on the ocean-side of the route and is most convenient if starting from Sydney.
Cape Breton Highlands Camping and Accommodation
Easily access the park’s hiking trails and beaches by camping at one of the six campgrounds in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which cater to both tents and recreational vehicles. The national park campgrounds are:
Find motels, a hostel, and bed-and-breakfasts in towns on the outskirts of the national park such as Pleasant Bay, Ingonish, and Chéticamp.
Cape Breton Highlands Hiking and Other Activities
The famed Cape Breton Highlands hike is the Skyline Trail. Hike with others or join a ranger guided hike. More hikes head to beaches, waterfalls, scenic plateaus, and historic sites. Beyond outdoor activities and the scenic Cabot Trail loop, extend a stay in the Cape Breton Higlands to visit provincial parks and heritage centers. Within a day trip of Cape Breton Highlands National Park, visit:
-Acadian Museum and rug-hooking galleries in Cheticamp
-Whale Interpretive Centre in Pleasant Bay
-Cabot Landing Provincial Park en route to the stunning views in Meat Cove
-Keltic Lodge and Cape Smokey near Ingonish.