Road trip: Cabot Trail detours

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Red cabin, Cabot Trail, East Coast, Canada, Cape Breton

Best known for the Cabot Trail, one of the world’s most scenic drives, Cape Breton Island offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, glacier carved hills and jagged cliffs, dense forests, and spectacular vistas of the Cape Breton Highlands. But as the locals will tell you, the island’s greatest natural treasures are best explored with lots of detours.

Here are seven ways to get lost and discover the beauty of Cape Breton Island.

1. Meat Cove
Looking like a scene straight out of Game of Thrones, on the most northern tip of Cape Breton Island, the rural fishing community of Meat Cove is surrounded by cliffs, deep valleys and rugged landscape.
Location: Meat Cove, Nova Scotia B0E 2P0

Meat Cove, Motorcycle, Camping

Kayak, Meat Cove, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, Ocean

2. Middle Head Trail
Following the peninsula separating two ocean bays, this moderate hike takes about 90 minutes and ends on cliffs overlooking Cape Smokey and Ingonish Island.
Location: Middle Head Hiking Trail, Victoria, Subd. A, NS B0C 1L0

Man, MacIndoe, Jon, Middle Head, Trail, Nova Scotia, East Coast, Rocks, Cliff, Cape Breton

Woods, Roots, Hike, Climb

Trail, Green, Winding, Ocean, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, Middle Head

Middle Head, Rocks, Atlantic Ocean

3. The Chowder House in Neil’s Harbour
With friendly service, a warm atmosphere, and a menu filled with freshly caught lobster, crab, and mussels, the Chowder House in Neil’s Harbour is a great stop for visitors and locals alike. We had the BEST clam chowder soup at this restaurant.
Location: Chowder House, 90 Lighthouse Rd, Neils Harbour, NS B0C 1N0

Seafood, Chowder, Cape Breton, Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

Chowder House, Seafood, Nova Scotia, Cabot Trail, Menu, Wifi

4. Mary Ann Falls
A dusty drive and short hike on the eastern side of Cape Breton Island leads visitors to Mary Ann Falls, a perfect place to go for a dip next to a picturesque waterfall.
Location: Mary Ann Falls, Victoria, Subd. A, Nova Scotia, B0C 1K0

Mary Ann Falls, Cape Breton, Cabot Trail

5. Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site
Yes, you likely already know that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, but did you know that he also achieved Canada’s first powered flight, built the world’s fastest boat, and was the second president of the National Geographic Society? Learn about his numerous inventions and achievements at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site.
Location: Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, 559 Chebucto St, Baddeck, NS B0E 1B0

Alexander Graham Bell, National, Historic, Site, Museum, history, Baddeck

Alexander Graham Bell, National, Historic, Site, Museum, history, Baddeck, Plane

6. Ingonish Beach
When you’re ready for a break from the Cabot Trail, the Atlantic Ocean’s saltwater is just a few steps away from Freshwater Lake at Ingonish Beach. With change houses, washrooms, seasonal lifeguards, a playground, and nearby hiking trails, this beach offers a quiet place to cool down and unwind.
Location: Ingonish Beach, Nova Scotia B0C 1L0

Beach, Nova Scotia, Middle Head, Freshwater lake, Atlantic Ocean, Lifeguard, Cape Breton, summer, bikini, speedo

7. Lookout stops
One of the best things about travelling along the Cabot Trail is the abundant number of lookout stops. While some of the official stops offer large parking lots and red Muskoka chairs from Parks Canada, it’s equally as common to see visitors pulled over at the side of the road taking in the island’s dramatic and rocky coastlines.
Location: Various

Lookout, Stop, Nova Scotia, Cabot Trail, Cape Breton

Motorcycle, Cape Breton, Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

What is your favourite Cabot Trail detour? Share your picks in the comments below!

Cabot Trail, Atlantic Ocean, Winding Road, Detour,

Looking for more east coast trip recommendations? Read my review of Peggy’s Cove.

This post was inspired by The Daily Post’s photo challenge. To join their next challenge, check out their blog. New themes are announced every week.

  • Regina Martins September 5, 2017, 6:04 am Reply

    Beautiful stark scenery and a place I’d like to visit someday.

    • Jon September 5, 2017, 11:45 am

      Thanks so much!

  • bethnorman September 4, 2017, 11:38 am Reply

    What a perfect post since we just got back. Your photography skills are amazing. We took 7 hours to do the Cabot Trail. Two hours was taken up on the grueling Middlehead tour. You really captured a nice photo of the airplane. We didn’t get a good shot of it.

    • Jon September 5, 2017, 11:46 am

      Looking forward to hearing more about your trip!

  • Pam September 4, 2017, 10:56 am Reply

    Beautiful shots! Hope to travel to this area one day!

  • Michaela August 30, 2017, 5:35 am Reply

    Those photos are so beautiful! I can’t wait to see those places on my own 🙂

  • Irmgard Rahn August 28, 2017, 9:27 am Reply

    Highly interesting and wonderful Fotos.

  • Mario Aquilina August 28, 2017, 8:53 am Reply

    Another great post Jon! Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail are one of my favourite places to visit (to date). One of my newly found “detours” is the Skyline trail. This trail on the East side of the Cabot Trail (north of Cheticamp) hugs the coastline and offers tremendous ocean/mountain views. It’s popular with those who wish to capture the stunning sunsets often seen along the eastern shores of Cape Breton. I would recommend this Trail to anyone touring the Cape Trail; just be sure to give yourself plenty if time to complete the entire hike! We started to late and were only able to complete a portion of the Trail. Just another reason to go back!!!

  • Adrian Evans Photographer August 28, 2017, 4:25 am Reply

    Super, thanks for sharing 🙂

  • dunelight August 28, 2017, 12:32 am Reply

    These are great shots of some amazing places. I’m 3 hours from Canada…Great Lakes, though I’ve had opportunity to explore from Vancouver to Winnepeg to Montreal. I’d love to see the places you’ve shown here.

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