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"The Celtic Shores Coastal Trail is a 92-km (57-mile) multi-use trail stretching from   
Port Hastings to the town of Inverness on the west coast of the spectacular Cape
Breton Island. Great for off-road cycling or long-distance trekking, the easy,
flat trail meanders along the coastline, through picturesque wilderness,
skirts streams, and connects several communities and attractions."
~ from the NovaScotia.com website

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.

Here's another 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 trail:

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 small gravel.

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 the surf:


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.


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 Harbour,

the Glenora Distillery near Glenville,

and at the West Mabou trailhead parking area to see if Jim had gone through yet (yes):


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 in Inverness.


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 pretty day.

Here are two websites with more information about the trail:  http://www.celticshores.ca/    
and http://www.novascotia.com/see-do/outdoor-activities/celtic-shores-coastal-trail/6008

Next entry:  a visit to Baddeck Harbor

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil