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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Nova Scotia Week, The Perfect Loop in Cape Breton Highlands National Park

There’s a reason Travel & Leisure magazine named Cape Breton the number one island destination in North America and third in the world. The landscape is a mesmerizing mix of rolling summits, precipitous cliffs, high headlands, sweeping white sand beaches, and glacially carved lakes, all bordered by the ocean. The Cabot Trail hugs the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the rugged northwestern edge of the island, where around every bend you want to pull over, spew expletives of joy at the stupendous vista, and take another snapshot. Indeed, it’s as close to Big Sur as the East Coast gets. Add bald eagles, moose, coyotes, and pilot whales fluking in the nearby waters and you want to leave the car behind and soak it all up. 

One of the most popular trails, Skyline, is a 9.2 km (5.7-mile) loop atop the ridge of a coastal headland. I took the 3-hour loop yesterday morning, when the rain that’s been following me the past two days subsided, replaced by blue skies and a trace of thin clouds. I veered right at the start to walk through a bog topped with pines and carpeted with moss. I took deep breaths of the sweet pines as I meandered over the roots and rocks on the grassy path. Eventually, the trail snakes to the left offering expansive views of the sea. At the halfway point, a boardwalk leads down the headland and wow, what a majestic stroll it is. To the left is a backbone of peaks, to the right is all ocean as far as your eye can see. I sat down on a bench and bit into my honeycrisp apple, watching a whale spout. It was hard to leave, but after having my fill, I made my way back on the loop. Within minutes, I was staring at a mother moose and her calf. Talk about icing on the cake. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/03/12 at 10:00 AM
Hiking • (2) CommentsPermalink Bookmark and Share


Cape Breton is on my bucket list. I think I'll make it my next Canadian trip.

Picture of Fran Folsom Comment by Fran Folsom
on 10/03/12 at 08:13 PM

Happy to point you in the right direction, Fran!

Picture of Steve Jermanok Comment by Steve Jermanok
on 10/03/12 at 08:16 PM

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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

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