The Cabot Trail is one of the most famous drives in Canada. The 300-kilometre road takes you along the coast of Cape Breton — named one of the world’s must-see islands by Travel + Leisure — offering unrivalled panoramic views and outdoor adventures.
When it comes to the Cabot Trail, the journey is the destination. Above all else, it is a path to travel, and how you travel it is up to you.
Vehicles and motorbikes allow you to tackle the entire trail relatively quickly. As you drive the winding roads, with only a few feet between you and seaside cliffs, you’ll feel the rush that comes with being on the edge of the world, intimately connected with nature.
For a slower cruise around the trail, grab a bike and explore on two wheels. Remember, this isn’t your regular Sunday ride. It takes about six days to cover the trail by bike, during which time you’ll pedal across undulating terrain, your efforts rewarded with views of endless ocean, mountains, and rolling highlands. Choose a cycle tour company that drops you at the top of mountains so you can simply enjoy the relaxed downhill ride.
Take in the highlights of the Cabot Trail on foot. Cape Breton Highlands National Park, with its 26 hiking trails for all skill levels, is a must-stop. Of those trails, the Skyline Trail is definitely the most loved and lauded. This relatively easy eight-kilometre round-trip hike leads you into the boreal forest, through meadows and onto a cliff, where you can watch a breathtaking sunset over the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. If you really love to hike, you may want to plan your visit for September during the Hike the Highlands Festival. This 10-day event is filled with opportunities to challenge yourself, explore the trail, and meet like-minded hiking enthusiasts.
Along the way
Of course, the Cabot Trail is more than just a scenic path. It’s a connecting line between the many incredible experiences you can find on Cape Breton Island.
There are countless historical and cultural experiences to enjoy along the route. Dance a jig to spirited Gaelic music at a Cape Breton Ceilidh or find a work of art to take home at the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Designs’ Craft Shop in St. Ann’s. Join the annual Celtic Colours International Festival, held each October, featuring hundreds of Celtic musicians from across Cape Breton and around the world. Connect with Nova Scotia’s traditional French-Acadian culture at the fishing village of Cheticamp, founded in the 18th century, and see the intricate craftwork that has drawn people to the region since its beginning.
Savour mouthwatering cuisine along the way. Fresh, local, sustainable seafood, including scallops, lobster, and salmon, are served at bars and restaurants across the island. Follow the Chowder Trail and fill your belly with the 61 different varieties of chowder being served up through the province. The Bite House in Baddeck highlights local ingredients in such delicious ways that it has earned coverage in the New York Times and on the Cooking Channel. Top off your culinary tour with an organic microbrew from Big Spruce Brewing.
Plan a day of golf at the famous Highland Links. There’s nothing quite like playing 18 holes with mountains on one side and sea on the other. If you’re willing to leave the trail behind, enjoy a guided whale-watching excursion and get-up close with the giants of the sea. Sailing, fishing, and kayaking offer different perspectives on the waters surrounding Cape Breton. Who knows, you might just stumble on a picturesque waterfall or peer inside a dark sea cave as you paddle by.
Not sure where to begin? Check out a Cabot Trail itinerary.