Hiking the Highlands

Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Highlands National Park boasts more than 20 trails ranging from short easy walks to spectacular hiking expeditions. We chose one of the most popular, the dramatic Skyline Trail on the western side of the Cabot Trail, for Wednesday’s hike.

As we approached the trailhead, we could see the tiny silhouettes of hikers against the skyline on the ridge high above us. Soon we would join them!


The Skyline Trail offers two options. Many choose to stay on the well groomed path that takes them directly out to the headland cliff overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This out and back route is 7.5 km long. We chose the longer 9.2 km loop.

The back side of the loop, the road less traveled, crosses a high plateau. The trail is rougher and some sections were muddy as a result of the horrendous storm that swept across Cape Breton two days earlier.


Once we reached the far side of the plateau, the views were gorgeous.


Sometimes we just had to sit and soak them in.


Nothing prepared us for the spectacular views from the headland, however! There, a wooden boardwalk and a series of steps took us down the middle of the cliff. The open ocean was far below to our right and a deep ravine to our left. We watched eagles soar below us and vehicles winding their way along the Cabot Trail looked minuscule.


Strategically placed by Parks Canada so that it isn’t visible from the highway below, the boardwalk protects the fragile headland plants from trampling and also gave me a sense of security as I crossed the ridge.

Once we tore ourselves away from the the amazing vistas spread out before us, the most used and best maintained portion of the trail took us back to the parking lot. There was a small change in elevation along this portion, but it was very gradual.


Is it any wonder that I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of Nova Scotia?


One thought on “Hiking the Highlands

  1. Pingback: Colourful Cabot Trail | Following Augustine

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