skyline trail

Nova Scotia, Canada – Day 3: Cabot Trail / Skyline Trail

Today, October 20th, is our 12-year wedding anniversary! Our plan today is to drive the entire Cabot Trail, the main thoroughfare that winds through beautiful Cape Breton Islands National Park. Also on the agenda was hiking the famous Skyline Trail. With our intent to be in Sydney by nighttime, it was to be an aggressive day of adventure and drive time. The weather was on our side – YAY!

We started our morning with an early, excellent breakfast at the Happy Clam in Cheticamp. Afterward, we quickly made our way to the entrance of the national park and the information center. We paid the entrance fee, got a map, some great intel from the rangers and off we went. Right away, we saw some really pretty sights.

cape breton highlands national park
Photo credit: David Jones
cape breton higlands national park
Photo credit: David Jones

The drive was beautiful but we were only on the road for a short while before we got to the entrance of the Skyline Trail . This is not a road but an actual hiking trail, and one of the most popular in the park. The goal was to hike the entire loop (5-ish miles) and to hopefully see a moose along the way!

Here’s a montage of what we experienced and saw:

skyline tral

skyline trail
See the moon?!?

skyline trail

skyline trail
We made it to the boardwalk!

skyline trail

At the boardwalk, we went all the way down the steps and back up again. It was challenging but awesome! As we hiked out we never did get to see a moose (darn it), but we did get to see a few large Spruce Grouse, also known as “Trail Chickens.” Ha — how appropriate.

After hiking out, we hopped back in the car and continued our road trip. We stopped briefly at an overlook with a viewpoint of Pleasant Bay.

skyline trail pleasant bay
Photo credit: David Jones

From here we headed inland, but made a quick stop at the Lone Shieling trail. Here, we found 350 year-old sugar maple trees and a replica of a Scottish crofter’s hut. See me in the window?!?

Long Shieling
Photo credit: David Jones


lone shieling

It was a short, stunning trail that we really enjoyed.

We got back in the car and started heading toward the eastern part of the park / island. Serendipitously, David had to pull over at this picnic spot to handle some work-related matters, so I jumped out of the car and took some more pics. This was one of my favs, even though I’m pretty sure David was making faces at me from inside the car – lol.


Next, we drove to Dingwall and were lucky enough to find a place open for lunch, Danena’s. All other eateries seemed to be closed for the season! Danena’s didn’t have much left on the menu since they were closing for the season just two days later. They put together a delicious lunch for us nonetheless. We even had homemade scones for dessert! (By the way, this cafe wouldn’t be opening back up again until MAY. That’s a looong season!)

Back in the car, we started heading south and we went over a bridge. I asked David to go back. It was so pretty, I had to get a photo! After I got out and ran back to the bridge, of course, David took a picture of ME taking the picture!!!

South Harbor Nova Scotia
David’s picture


south harbour nova scotia
My picture

Our driving continued south and east until we got to the coast. There we made a quick stop at Green Cove which had a bazillion interesting pink boulders that cascaded into the ocean.

green cove nova scotia

From there, we both did a ton of driving to get to Sydney. There we stayed at a Hampton Inn, which sounds kind of blah, right? WRONG. David got us an awesome, gigantic king suite with fireplaces, big living room, and a bar. Not only that, the hotel had a pool with a fabulous water slide! The first thing we did after check-in was get into our swimsuits and go down the water slide a bunch of times, even backwards for a few runs. It was SO much fun!

Photo credit: Hampton Inn
Photo credit: Hampton Inn

After having a blast in the pool, we got cleaned up and went out to dinner. The hotel was connected to a restaurant called Kiju’s via a long, enclosed pedestrian walkway. This was a treat since we were so tired of driving. After a good dinner, we went back to relax and enjoy our lovely room. Tomorrow, we had a lot of driving to do to get back to Halifax. Wheeee!


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