Day Six – Cape Breton Adventures:
to Hideaway Campground (63.5 km)
Our first stop of the day:
Skyline trail: A dramatic headland overlooking the rugged gulf coast. Whales, eagles, moose and bears. Fragile vegetation. No dogs.
– 1.5 – 2.5 hrs / 7km return
– 2 – 3 hrs / 9.2km loop
Even though it was windy, in the off season and under construction, this was one of the busiest trails we hiked. The trail was easily accessible and beautiful; the vegetation is remarkable, and the landscape is stunning.
To be completely honest, there was so much talking on the hike in, that I do not remember many details of the trail. It was nice and easy, with more dense forest.
Rounding the final corner, the forest parted and the boardwalk led us toward the views overlooking the ocean. This is when the true force of the wind on that day became evident. There were moments when I was concerned of loosing my footing and being swept away. A little dramatic, but not completely inaccurate.
Down the dirt trail to the very end, the views got more and more breathtaking, and the wind became stronger and stronger. Sitting on the coast surrounded by cliffs and ocean was an amazing way to start the day. After snapping a few photos, the wind could not be tolerated any longer, and we rushed back up the countless stairs to escape the torrent!
The hike back to the car was pleasant, the wind was broken by the treeline, and the way back was easy. Back to the parking lot, it was time to continue to our next destination:
McIntosh Brook Trail: Waterfalls, old growth hardwood forests.
30 – 45 mins / 1.7 km return
Another great discovery about our new travel companions was our similarity of interests. Emily and I both loved photography and thus waterfalls, which was why we chose this next trail. There are more waterfalls in the park, but this one had the quickest access.
The trail to the waterfall is easy and even, following McIntosh Brook the majority of the way. The falls were much larger than expected, towering 25m from the valley floor. The hardwood forest seemed to frame the falls in a veil of green as the clear and cool waters tumbled and gargled down hill. We sat and took pictures for a while before heading back to the car for lunch.
Next on our list was another hardwood forest:
Lone Sheiling Trail: 350 year-old sugar maple trees, a replica of a Scottish Crofter’s hut.
15 mins / .6km loop
I will not explain what a Crofter’s hut is, and if you want to find out you will have to visit this trail! Regardless, Emily and I were hoping the maple forest would have started to turn colour, but it was still too early in the season. Regardless the forest did not disappoint. It was a great little trail and we were glad we made the stop.
By the time our visit to Lone Sheiling was over, it was now late in the day, and it was time to figure out a place to camp. Our plans took us east towards Aspy Bay, this would bring us a lot closer to the trails that were planned for the next day.
There were a multitude of viewpoints along the Cabot Trail, and as a result the travel convoy pulled over to view the valleys and vistas on many occasions. Luckily, time did not rule our schedule, and the adventure continued on.
A couple hours later we rolled into the town of Cape North, only to find an open campground not too far away. The Hideaway Campground had hot showers, fresh oysters and vacant spots overlooking the ocean. It was an easy choice.
We quickly set up camp and began dinner with a course of fresh and local oysters cooked over the fire. Each of our oysters were grown by the owners of the campground, and took 6 years to reach maturity. Talk about being thankful for each bite!
We were given specific instruction on how to cook them over the fire;
- Place oysters on the grill with the flat side facing up
- Wait until one of the oyster pops open, once one has opened take all oysters off the grill
I must say, when it comes to east coast experiences, fresh fire-roasted oysters beats lobster any day of the week. Not only are they significantly cheaper, they are also easier to eat, and personally I think they tasted better. What an amazing treat it was to enjoy such a delicacy with friends over a fire!
Day Seven – Cape Breton- Hideaway Campground to Skyline Cabins (43.4 km)
Our first stop the next morning was an impromptu visit to a beach. It was not in our original plan, but seeing how close we were to the coast, we decided to try and check out the beach at the end of the road. Pavement turned to gravel, then to dirt and soon we were off-roading our way to the beach. After many pot holes and lots of mud later, we made it. The detour was well worth it, because the beach was all ours!
After a quick and windy visit, the adventure continued on.
Our main hike planned for the day was Franey, but there was a lot of driving between our campsite and our destination. We ended up making a few extra stops along the way at some KEY attractions, all unplanned of course.
Our first unplanned stop was at Black Brook Beach, where a small trail is located. 5 minutes down the trail, a waterfall appeared which boasted gorgeous lookouts over the ocean.
The second stop was at Green Cove, which not only showcased more amazing ocean views, but also had a dangerous and frequent visitor, the rouge wave. Which, unknown to us, was a very serious safety hazard. Unaware of the dangers, we ran around the gorgeous red rocks snapping pictures.
As the waves continued to roll in, all of a sudden a rouge wave came to show its true strength. With tremendous force, it hit the rocks whipping the shore with unexpected power. It seemed to almost engulf everything in close proximity, including Derek who managed to narrowly miss its grasp. Yikes!
After our heart rate returned to normal, we pulled away from the water’s edge and found refuge further back from the waves. A cheap lesson learned!
Back in our cars and all bodies present, the adventure continued to Franey.
Franey: steep climb to panoramic views of Clyburn River Canyon and the Atlantic Ocean.
2 – 3hrs / 7.4km
We reached the parking lot for our hike around noon and had a quick bite to eat before heading up the trail. This hike had been much anticipated, and our steps grew faster and faster. All that was known about the hike was that it had some exceptional views. Also, the weather that day was the best it had been the whole trip, which added to the excitement!
The trail was fairly easy, and the forest was stunning. Following a small creek running beside the trail, we climbed up and up and up. Halfway up the hike, you experience the first great view over the valley. Now with even more excitement for what lay ahead, our pace quickened and we continued on our way.
Climbing higher, the trees began to grow shorter and the trail became steeper. A few sets of stairs later the summit was reached.
The 360-degree views over the ocean and valley were stunning. There were a few different lookouts to explore, and each one had a unique view over the lush landscape.
Looking over the Clyburn River Canyon, we watched the shadows that crept along the valley’s edges, as the sun hung alone in the open sky. To our right and our left stretched a vast expanse of color. One side overlooked the deep blue ocean, the other a sea of green.
Views like this catch you off guard, conjuring emotions that only an exquisite panorama, such as Franey, could evoke. Even better, we were sharing the masterpiece with our new friends.
Before long it was time to head back down. Following the trail on the backside of the mountain, the journey lead us to a second surprise, a large alpine lake! There was a short trail to the lake, and the sun was setting over the water bringing even more beauty to this place.
Once back at the parking lot, there was one more destination planned for the day, the lookout over Freshwater Lake. This lake would be a bay, except for a large spit of sand that separates it from the Atlantic Ocean.
Freshwater Lake Lookout: Short, steep climb up steps to panoramic ocean view.
10 min / 0.3km
We were quickly winded, hiking up the steep stairs to the lookout. 2 full days of running around, and trying to keep up with our adventure partners had us exhausted, scrapping every little bit of energy left to reach the top. The view was nice and definitely worth the effort.
Sitting on the bench Derek, Emily, Ryan and I reminisced about our short time together, and agreed that we would all miss each other.
After saying our final goodbyes, and promising to visit each other, we went our separate ways. Derek and Emily (@minerrbaby) drove to the Bay of Fundy that night, Ryan and I however made it 5 km down the road before finding a place to sleep for the night. Heavy with exhaustion we decided that a warm night in a bed with a hot shower was much needed. We stayed the night at Skyline Cabins, who had one room available for us.
Day Eight – Skyline Cabins to Wayside Campground (577.2 km)
That night ended up being the coldest night on our trip, and I was happy we got to spend it indoors. In the morning our adventure started early and the next destination was Peggy’s Cove.
Once back on the mainland and keeping in theme with our trip, a more scenic route was chosen for the next leg of our journey; following Highway 7 around the coast of the province.
The road took us through some amazing scenery. Inlets and bays filled with islands and rocky shores. The tide was low, revealing dark wriggling seaweed on the shallows of all of the bays and islands.
Thick coniferous forest blanketed the area, breaking every once and a while for a small meadow or pond. The journey took us through small towns and ports, some with many boats, both old and new.
Large fishing vessels sat on the shores at the local fishing ports. These boats were obviously of no use to anyone anymore. But this was not the strange part of it all, the boats that seemed to magically be placed on the shore were set on top of the most peculiar items.
I would think nothing short of cement blocks or steel frames would be appropriate. But no, these once worthy vessels spend their final days rested upon many unexpected items. Milk crates, pallets, bouys, fishing line or even better, nothing. Everything seemed to be done in an easygoing half-hazard manor, which obviously worked for them.
Continuing on our journey, we made a few stops to check out some harbors, bays and beaches. One of which was Taylor Head Provincial Park. It was definitely time to stretch our legs, so I thought it would be nice to check out the beach and some surrounding trails.
It was very cool to see the different ecosystems existing in this park. Not only was there a beach beautiful, but it was home to many species of birds, and a healthy population of old mans beard.
After our hike, we continued toward Halifax. Being close to sunset, it was definitely time to figure out where to spend the night. Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park seemed like a good option as it was close enough to our destination, Peggy’s Cove. It was unclear whether or not the park was open for camping, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and we decided to try it anyway.
After crossing the port, from Dartmouth to Halifax we then continued east toward the coast. Getting closer and closer to the park, the sun was now setting. Watching the sky, I glanced out the window to witness a stunning sunset reflected over a lake, and immediately forced Ryan to pull over so I could take some pictures.
Unfortunately we were not parked at the best spot, and I was urged to return to the vehicle as soon as possible. Grumbling, I got back in the car and we continued on our way.
The park finally came into view around 8 pm. Exhausted and desperate we pulled into the parking lot hoping for the best. Unfortunately there were numerous no camping signs, which at first did not deter us, but after chatting with the locals, they informed us that this park was routinely patrolled by the police, and it was well known that people try to camp here off season.
We were heart broken, the beach was beautiful and we definitely did not feel like driving anymore. But, with no options left, our only choice was to check out a campground closer to Peggy’s Cove. An hour later we rolled into Wayside Campground.
It was now close to 10 pm, dragging our feet, we set up our tent and made a small fire. It was then I made a proposition to Ryan. I wanted to be at Peggy’s Cove for sunrise, which meant a 5 am wake up call. Thankfully Ryan agreed, and we were off to sleep.
Day Nine – Wayside Campground, NS to Lake Temiscouata, QB (792.9 km)
Our alarm sounded bright and early the next morning, I was eager and excited, while Ryan was kind enough not to complain too much. Camp was packed up in the dark and we headed to Peggy’s Cove.
This part of the trip was so rewarding. At first I was not sure if my eagerness to visit the famous cove would be worth all of the extra driving. But, all my worries quickly disappeared, as the sun rose over the water, revealing the most magnificent sunrise!
I scrambled all over the rocks, tripod in hand, trying to capture the sunrise, the waves crashing on the rocks, the lighthouse and a SEAL?!!
Soon we were extremely famished, and decided to have breakfast at a restaurant located at the Cove. As soon as we sat down to eat, the tour busses began rolling in. I was shocked at the amount of people that were all of a sudden wandering over every nook and cranny of the cove. I was thankful I had gotten such a nice and peaceful perspective of this place, and some great pictures of course!
This was the last real adventure of our trip before we headed home, so rather than going the short way back to the main highway that would lead us home, we again decided to explore a little more of the peninsula.
The vegetation and ecosystems near Peggy’s Cove were incredibly unique. Small shrubbery clung to the coastline, and lakes began to appear. Lakes?! Yes, small pristine lakes, surrounded by thick bushes and stunted trees. Ryan and I both immediately thought about the feasibility of being able to canoe here….
The rest of the morning was filled with driving down back roads and inspecting every last inch of the coast until we had to start heading home. Our trip was close to the end, and we were quite exhausted, especially from being up so early!
Once the exploring had come to an end, our journey from Nova Scotia to back New Brunswick was uneventful. Saddened by the prospect of no longer having Robin’s coffee available back home, we grabbed a couple XL coffees before leaving New Brunswick. It was a good day for travelling, and we took advantage of it.
Our plan for accommodations that night was an exciting one, deciding to camp on a lake located right outside the New Brunswick and Quebec border. This was no ordinary lake, this lake is 45 km long and 5 km wide, and boasts a unique history.
The lake is called Lac Temiscouata, and it has a provincial park surrounding it, and so we decided to stay the night. Well, it was a little more off the beaten track than expected, adding an hour to our journey. The sun was setting when we arrived, and as such, a site was quickly chosen and a fire was made.
Day Ten – Lake Temiscouata, QC to Maryhill, ON (1,172 km)
The next day, we took a short walk in the morning from our site to find the beach. I was really looking forward to having a beautiful view of the lake, but unfortunately it was extremely foggy. Ryan tried some fishing and I skipped stones on the shore.
Once back at our site, we packed up and were ready to drive the remainder of our way back home.
The day brought more beautiful weather and our spirits remained high.
After covering what felt like endless miles between Quebec and Ontario, filled with happiness and exhaustion we returned home with a great number of stories to share.
This trip was a success in many ways, and our time was filled with many adventures and a brand new appreciation for our friends to the east. I cannot wait to return and take a trip to Newfoundland, the province that started all of my heartfelt desires to drive east. We did not have time in our schedule to go to Newfoundland this trip, but what we found on the way, was far more spectacular than we had even hoped.
I look forward to heading out east again, this time with higher hopes and more kilometres to cover.
Rebecca is a canoe loving, adventure seeking, outdoor enthusiast with a passion for photography and writing. Ever since early childhood she was encouraged to adventure outdoors, often with her immediate family. Continuing her education, she graduated from the University of Waterloo with a major in Environmental Resource Studies and a Business minor.
Fast forward to the present; Rebecca fills her days with hiking, bird watching, camping, canoeing, snowshoeing and photography. She has plans to take her adventure writing and photography to the next level by recording her adventures for other blogs. A true advocate for conservation and environmental sustainability, she wants to turn her passions into a career one day. Her current ramblings and adventures are recorded on her Instagram page, @alter._.eco
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