When we were researching things to see and do on
Cape Breton Island Jim found information online about this trail that sounded
very appealing to us.
Long story short, we loved riding our bikes on it.
We put Celtic Shores on our agenda for a long bike ride
today because the
weather was near-perfect again -- about 70 F., mostly sunny, a
little breeze at the Baddeck Cabot Trail Campground and more along the
Gulf of St. Lawrence coast on the western side of Cape Breton Island.
section from our battered AAA map of the Maritimes:
I marked the part of the trail Jim
rode in yellow and our vehicle route in green. I rode just part of the
bike path out-and-back, then drove north to pick Jim up in Inverness.
We left the campground about 9 AM. After getting diesel at the nearby
Ultramar station ($1.331 per liter CA), we drove to Port Hastings and found
the visitor information center so we could get detailed maps of the multi-use
I also went into the quilt museum across the roundabout and had a brief
conversation with the woman who works there. She
said last winter was a bad one on Cape Breton and she's looking forward
to being a snowbird this winter.
By now, in mid-August, you can't tell the island had a tough winter last year.
Everything is gorgeous.
We've read that the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail is rough in spots the first 20K
or more so we drove about that far north on NS 19, part of the Ceilidh
(KAY-lee) Coastal (driving) Trail, to the parking area at Christy's Look Off,
Canada's term for "overlook," near Craigmore:
This trailhead is
about the 17K marker on the trail. Each kilometer is marked.
Jim rode ahead of me and stopped periodically for me to catch up. I
turned around after 12.6 miles, between the 37K and 38K markers at
the turnoff for Judique (Jude-EEK) Harbour. I had a total of 25.2 miles.
Jim continued on to the end of the trail at Inverness and I picked
him up there. His total mileage was 44 miles. He detoured for two
miles to go to Port Hood for a sandwich and another three miles where
the trail was closed near Mabou. He rode on NS 19 for those five miles.
View as I rode south back to the truck
We love this trail! It was much smoother than we expected --
mostly finely crushed rock. There was also some hard-packed sand and
There are lots of bridges over creeks, rivers, and wet areas:
The scenery was beautiful and varied.
The first five miles were close to the shore, then a little bit inland
north of there. We rode through fields, wetlands, and forests.
In one place we were very close to the edge, about 70 feet above
There were lots of flowers in bloom in the open areas and nice shade
through forested areas farther from the shoreline:
Above and below: goldenrods and fireweeds
Above and below: two other kinds of purple
flowers + more goldenrods
It was interesting to see peoples' houses and farms. The trail crosses
numerous driveways and little roads.
The settings for these homes overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence and
its bays are truly idyllic, at least in the summer!
There are six major kiosks/parking areas along the trail route and many
other access points in or near the towns.
The trail doesn't go right through most towns but there are spurs that
connect to each nearby town.
The next three photos
are at or near the trailhead at Judique:
There are a lot of interesting interpretive panels along the trail re:
the local geography, ecology, history, and culture. I stopped to read
most of them. You can see three of them in the photo above.
I didn't see very many people on the trail -- about ten who were
running, walking, or cycling in the first twelve miles outbound and only
five on the return (three of those were on ATVs, which are allowed on
the trail). Jim saw more trail users after I
turned around than we did in the first twelve miles.
Neither of us saw any moose, bears, eagles, or herons, although all
these critters live along the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail. I did see lots of
seagulls, ravens, and songbirds.
Sea oats and yet another kind of purple wildflower
It took me about 2:45 hours to do 25+ miles, including stops to talk to
Jim, eat snacks, read signs, and take photos.
THE ROADS ARE
I enjoyed the drive north on Shore Dr. and NS 19 to Inverness to get
Jim, too. My only stops were to take photos of the boats at Judique
the Glenora Distillery near Glenville,
and at the West Mabou trailhead parking area to see if Jim had gone through
I had about a 45-minute wait at Inverness until Jim got there.
I drove through the town, down to the beach, found the trailhead, and
watched people while I waited for Jim to get done.
I drove back home so Jim could eat and rest.
The shortest way back to the campground was down NS 19 a couple miles to
a county road skirting the western side of Lake Ainslee, the largest
fresh-water lake on Cape Breton. I wasn't able to get a good picture of
it while driving.
The beginning and end of the road were smooth but the middle was rough.
The scenery was great, though. NB 395 was rough for about five miles,
too. We finished up on CA 105, which is fast and smooth.
Above and below: Jim finishes his long ride
We had supper at the campground restaurant. I had a large bowl of
seafood chowder and a tasty yeast roll, which filled me up. Jim had
breaded scallops and fries, which he liked. Most of the selections are
deep-fried but salads are also available.
We really enjoyed our bike rides today and highly recommend other
cyclists (and runners) check out the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail on a
Here are two websites with more information about the trail:
Next entry: a visit to Baddeck Harbor
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil