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Cape Breton Highlands National Park Choose Your Own Big Adventure 2012 Activity Guide

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Welcome to Cape Breton Highlands National Park where the mountains meet the sea!

Top 10 Things to Do on a Whim:

Your adventure awaits in Cape Breton Highlands National Park! Accessible to all via the famous Cabot Trail, the park’s 950km2 protect majestic plateaus, deeply-cut river canyons and spectacular ocean scenery and exemplify Canada’s wondrous beauty. A park pass is required from May to October for park use. For more information on fees and services, visit park facilities, call 902-224-2306, or visit


1. “Skyline Sunset Hike” see Weekly Activities, p. 4�5 2. Unwind at the beach - see Swimming and Beaches, p. 7 3. 10 Hikes in 1 Day Challenge see Love a Challenge?, p. 3 4. “Seeing in the Dark” - see Weekly Activities, p. 4�5 5. Go whale watching 6. Pamper yourself at the Keltic Lodge Resort and Spa 7. Have a picnic at Middle Head 8. Discover waterfalls - see p. 7 9. On the Links - see Golf, p. 8 10. Peek�a�Moose

Experience the Hiking Capital of Eastern Canada in all its glory. The park’s hiking trails range from easy strolls to challenging climbs with panoramic views of canyons, highlands and seacoasts.

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Love a challenge? CONQUER THE HIGHLANDS CHALLENGE Hike every trail within Cape Breton Highlands National Park in 2012, and earn major bragging rights for a year. This is your chance to get up close and personal with the complex habitat of northern Cape Breton. Bring a signed list with trail names and dates hiked to park visitor centre in Chéticamp or Ingonish for a chance to win a special prize!

10 HIKES�IN�ONE�DAY�CHALLENGE Sample 10 short trails in one day, exploring a variety of habitats - Acadian, Boreal and Taiga - for your chance to win a great prize! Easily done at a leisurely pace if you walk regularly. Bring in a signed list or photo documentation (a photo of you on each trail) to a park visitor centre.



8 a.m. – wake up, walk the dog, eat breakfast, read the paper, check e-mail 9:30 a.m. – pack a lunch and snacks 10 a.m. – drive to any trail; complete the others in sequence (lunch in car); return home 7 p.m. – shower, supper, celebrate.

Good Practice • • • • • • • •

Hike with friends and a solid walking stick. If you walk alone, tell someone where you are going. Do not approach, disturb or feed wild animals. Pack in, pack out. Littering attracts wildlife and puts you and the animals at risk. Dress appropriately - weather may change rapidly on the plateau and along the coast. Bring water, especially for longer trails, climbs and open barrens. Bring insect repellent. Black flies and mosquitoes are common all summer. Stay on the trails to protect fragile vegetation.

• • • • • • • • • •

Le Buttereau Bog Benjie’s Lake MacIntosh Brook Lone Shieling Jigging Cove Jack Pine Green Cove Freshwater Lake Freshwater Lake Look-off

Staff Picks: Trails Acadian’s breathtaking views and challenging slopes make it the favourite of Craig, geomatics technician. Franey’s spectacular bird’s eye view of the Clyburn Valley puts it at the top of park warden Tim’s list.

Enjoying the Skyline’s spectacular view.

The Bog’s unexpected beauty surprises park ecologist, James, every time.

Wildlife Safety

Jack Pine’s ugly duckling trees and stunning geology keep Mariève, of the visitor experience team, on the trail.

Do you know what to do if you encounter wildlife?

Skyline is considered Nova Scotia’s premier hiking trail. Donna, park interpreter, tends to agree. Glasgow Lakes Look�off’s 360º view of the highland plateau keeps calling Jocelyne, park attendant, back on its path. Le vieux chemin du Cap�Rouge’s rich Acadian history and spectacular ocean views have forged a strong connection to the heart of Hélène, park superintendent. Salmon Pools’ viewpoints, including waterfalls and the high cliffs of the Chéticamp River canyon, make it the favourite of Erich, of resource conservation.

This is the home of the black bear, moose and eastern coyote. Moose, bear and coyote have been known to cause serious injury and even death to humans throughout their range in North America. Always give them plenty of space and a means of escape. For your own safety and for your dog’s, keep it on a leash at all times. DO NOT FEED animals directly or indirectly (through littering). Animals that have access to our food or garbage lose their fear of people. • Keep your campsite clean. • When hiking or driving, do not throw food or scraps along the trails and roads. Be informed before you venture into the park. Visit our visitor information centres and pick up the “Keep it Wild, Keep it Safe” brochure.

Broad Cove Mountain leads Elaine, of the visitor experience team, through the changing forest as she climbs in elevation. Middle Head follows a narrow peninsula separating two ocean bays. Kersti, park interpreter, likes to follow it too.

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Weekly Activities: July 1 - Aug 31 Sunday

West (Chéticamp Area)

East (Ingonish Area)

Skyline Sunset Hike

Middle Head Hike

2 hours before sunset, Skyline trailhead Register at either visitor centres or campground kiosks. $14.70

10 am, Middle Head trailhead

Coyotes Among Us


July: 9pm / Aug: 8:30pm , Broad Cove Outdoor Theatre

Coyotes Among Us

Middle Head Hike

8 pm, Chéticamp Outdoor Theatre

10 am, Middle Head trailhead

Seeing in the Dark


July: 8:30pm / Aug: 8pm, Warren Lake trailhead Register at either visitor centres or campground kiosks. $14.70

A Taste of l’Acadie

Middle Head Hike

8 pm, Shelter besides the Chéticamp Visitor Centre

10 am, Middle Head trailhead

Seeing in the Dark




July: 8:30pm / Aug: 8pm, Warren Lake trailhead Register at either visitor centres or campground kiosks. $14.70

Skyline Sunset Hike

Middle Head Hike

2 hours before sunset, Skyline trailhead Register at either visitor centres or campground kiosks. $14.70

10 am, Middle Head trailhead

Campfire Program 8 pm, Broad Cove Beach Campground; meet at the benches in parking lot near the beach

Gaelic Milling Frolic

Middle Head Hike

8 pm, Chéticamp Visitor Centre, $5

10 am, Middle Head trailhead

Coyotes Among Us (French)

Haunted Hike

8 pm, Chéticamp Outdoor Theatre

July: 8:30pm / Aug: 8pm, Ingonish Beach Day Use Area, Register at either visitor centres or campground kiosks. $14.70

Skyline Sunset Hike

Middle Head Hike

2 hours before sunset, Skyline trailhead Register at either visitor centres or campground kiosks. $14.70

10 am, Middle Head trailhead

Nature Film Night


July: 9pm / Aug: 8:30pm , Broad Cove Outdoor Theatre

Nature Film Night

Middle Head Hike

8 pm, Chéticamp Outdoor Theatre

10 am, Middle Head trailhead

Lake Safari 3:30 pm, Ingonish Beach Day Use Area

Treasure Hunt

*Note - In case of rain:

7 pm, Broad Cove Activity Building

Haunted Hike

Chéticamp Campground Outdoor Theatre programs will move to the Chéticamp Visitor Centre.

July: 8:30pm / Aug: 8pm, Ingonish Beach Day Use Area, Register at either visitor centres or campground kiosks. $14.70

Pick of the Week

Broad Cove Campground Outdoor Theatre programs will move to Broad Cove Campground Activity Building.

July: 9pm / Aug: 8:30pm , Broad Cove Outdoor Theatre

“Nature Film Night” will replace the “Campfire Program” at the Broad Cove Campground Activity Building. Guided Hikes and Treasure Hunt will proceed if numbers permit.

Programs and activities may be cancelled due to unforeseeable circumstances including adverse weather conditions.

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Top 5 Things to with Kids 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Become a Parks Canada Xplorer – see p. 5 Boomer’s Campground Kid Cache – see Geocaching, p. 8 Let loose at the Chéticamp Campground playground Discover the stone shepherd’s hut on the Lone Shieling trail Become a sand castle architect at Ingonish Beach

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WEEKLY ACTIVITIES - DESCRIPTIONS DAY Lake Safari Take this fun and engaging opportunity for the whole family to come face to face with a variety of amazing aquatic creatures and find out what the park is doing to keep this freshwater ecosystem healthy. 1 hour. Middle Head Hike Be inspired by the beauty of the coastline on a 4 km interpretive hike along the stunning, rugged Middle Head Peninsula, home of the Keltic Lodge and Highlands Links golf course. 1 to 1.5 hour.

Park Interpreters Out and About Look for park interpreters on popular trails and at look�offs around the Cabot Trail to discover more about whales, moose, coastal life and many other aspects of the park. Quench your curiosity and seek answers to your questions at these interpretation stations: • Veteran’s Monument look�off • Skyline trail • Bog trail  • Lone Shieling trail • Green Cove look�off • Lakie’s Head look�off

“Middle Head Hike”.

EVENING Campfire Program Awaken your senses in a stellar ocean setting. During a peaceful walk down the beach you will discover how this natural treasure came to be. Bring a chair or blanket and sit by the fire as you allow the tales from the past to spark your imagination. 2 hours.

Coyotes Among Us This presentation sheds some light on these elusive creatures and helps us to find our place in nature and enjoy the park safely and responsibly. 1 hour.

Gaelic Milling Frolic Join Gaelic singers Geoffrey and Rebecca�Lynne for an entertaining evening exploring the Gaelic culture through songs. The whole family will be swept away by the rhythm of this hands�on “milling frolic”. 1 hour. $5.

Pick of the Week A captivating assortment of presentations will be featured each week including guest speakers and nature films, all in a magical outdoor setting. 1 hour.

Nature Film Night This magical outdoor setting is a perfect place to relax with your family and discover nature’s secrets. 1.5 to 2 hrs.

Treasure Hunt A big adventure for the whole family! Follow the clues and be lead on a journey of discovery in the enchanting Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult. 1 hour. D. Wilson

A Taste of l’Acadie Experience Acadian culture that lives on in Chéticamp! You’ll feel the pride of the Acadian people as you hear about the hardships they overcame and their innovative ways of living off the land. Songs and laughter guaranteed! 1 to 1.5 hours.

Hanging out at MacIntosh Brook.

NIGHT HIKES Haunted Hike As the darkness creeps in, listen for the haunting call of the loon, or will it be one of Ingonish’s ghosts? As the moonbeams glisten on the lake you will become spellbound by the tales of this place. Recommended for visitors 12 yrs of age +. Visitors must pre�register at either visitor centres or campground kiosks. Space is limited. 2 hours. $14.70.

Seeing in the Dark Night Hike Enjoy a transformative experience as you explore the night in a place where it truly gets dark. While being guided through the woods, the absence of artificial light challenges visitors to step outside their usual comfort zone and learn how to use their other senses during a journey into the nocturnal world.

Skyline Sunset Hike Immerse yourself in nature’s masterpiece where the mountains truly meet the sea. You will be led through the boreal forest to witness a breathtaking sunset over the Atlantic Ocean 400 metres below. Don’t forget your camera: bald eagles, moose and whales often make an appearance.

Recommended for visitors 12 yrs of age +. Visitors must pre�register at either visitor centres or campground kiosks. Space is limited. 2.5 hours. $14.70.

Recommended for visitors 12 yrs of age +. Visitors must pre�register at campground kiosks or visitor centres. Space is limited. Minimum 2.5 hrs. $14.70. Bilingual program.

"Skyline Sunset Hike".

PARKS CANADA XPLORERS Would you like to be a Parks Canada Xplorer? Pick up a booklet at one of our park facilities and complete a variety of fun, hands�on activities specifically designed for children ages 6 � 11 and their families. Once you have accomplished your mission, come into a visitor centre to claim your official Cape Breton Highlands Xplorer certificate and prize.

"Haunted Hike" at Ingonish Beach.

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Cabot Trail Relay Race Seventy teams of 17 run almost 300 km around the entire Cabot Trail in a 24 hour relay race on some of the most challenging and spectacular terrain in North America. Registration: Bicycle Rodeo, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Chéticamp Visitor Centre area. Bring the family for bicycle tune�ups, safe riding tips, barbeque, face painting & games. Organised by Chéticamp Emergency Services.

16�17 Father’s Day Scramble, Highlands Links Golf Course. Annual men’s scramble and fundraiser for Highlands Golf Club Society. Registration: 24

Ingonish Triathlon, 8 a.m., Ingonish Beach Day Use Area. Swim, bike and run individually or as part of a fun team. Beginners are invited to ‘try�a�tri’. Registration:


The Great ChétiCamp�out! Chéticamp Campground (Robert Brook), Chéticamp. FREE! Join Cape Breton Highlands National Park and The TrailShop for a fun night of campfires, stories, music and slumber. A guided hike will be offered at 10:00 a.m. to start off Canada Day on the right foot! Registration required: 902�224�2306.


AUGUST Tour for Kids Atlantic 3�5 3 day fully supported cycle tour on the majestic Cabot Trail to raise funds for children’s cancer camps. Register at: $159 3�6

Thunder in the Highlands Hundreds of Motorcycles will travel through the park as part of this Cape Breton Bike Fest’s annual event. They will also “Storm the Fortress” in Louisbourg, along with an array of other activities over the weekend. For a complete schedule of events, visit capebretonbikefest. com.


Picnic en Acadie, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., La Grande Falaise Celebrate the perseverance of the Acadian people while enjoying a picnic and traditional music at the base of the magnificent Grand Falaise! After the picnic, join us for a guided walk on Le Buttereau trail. Bring provisions for your lunch.


Acadian and Scottish Concert, 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., Chéticamp Visitor Centre. See July 16 for program description.


Cape Breton Highlands Women’s Retreat Enjoy a restorative weekend of camping and hiking. Experience mindful meditation on mountain tops, yoga on breathtaking beaches and inspiring teachings from Gampo Abbey. At the end of the day, unwind by enjoying delicious local fare and music by a campfire. For more information, contact Kristin: 902�224�5237 or


Right Some Good Restaurant Take Over: Keltic Lodge, 7 p.m., Keltic Lodge. Right Some Good’s top international chef will delight guest to an extraordinary foodie event, followed by a concert open to the public at 9:30 p.m. at the resort’s Ceilidh Hall. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to

Canada Day Enjoy FREE entry to all Parks Canada sites


Canada Day Celebrations, 2 p.m to 4 p.m., Chéticamp Visitor Centre area. Celebrate Canada Day in Cape Breton Highlands National Park with live music, family activities and cake. Hosted collaboratively by La Société Saint�Pierre and Cape Breton Highlands National Park.


Family Day, 8 a.m. until dark, Ingonish Beach Day Use Area (soccer field), Keltic Lodge and community locations. Cake, music and games for the whole family!


Acadian and Scottish Concert, 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., Chéticamp Visitor Centre. Be immersed in an authentic cultural experience with local singer-songwriter Sylvia LeLièvre and discover two of Cape Breton’s vibrant cultures through songs and stories. Sponsored by Les Amis du Plein Air. Donations accepted.

SEPTEMBER Ride 4 the Cure 8 800 to 1000 motorcycles will circle the Cabot Trail to raise funds for cancer research during the 9th annual Ride 4 the Cure. Registration: 14�23

Hike the Highlands Festival, multiple locations. This annual festival features 26 hikes within and adjacent to Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Attended by hikers from across North America and beyond, the festival offers evening activities and presentations, opening and closing ceremonies, hikers distance award program, a photo contest and more. Registration:


Acadian Milling Frolic, 7:30 p.m. Trout Brook. You can’t beat our milling frolic! Wait-yes, you can. Beat the wool to the rhythm of traditional Acadian songs in a setting where the mountains plunge into the sea.


Parks Day


Acadian and Scottish Concert, 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., Chéticamp Visitor Centre. See July 16 for program description.

OCTOBER Celtic Colours Hikes, 10:30 a.m. 9�11 Hike through a vibrant panorama of autumn leaves as fiddle music resonates within you. Join park staff for a guided hike associated with Celtic Colours International Festival concerts in Chéticamp and Ingonish. For hike details, contact October 9: Acadian trail. October 11: Franey trail.

L. Bourgeois

“Acadian Milling Frolic” at Trout Brook.

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ROBERT BROOK (Group Camping Only)




SWIMMING AND BEACHES The park is home to a variety of superb beaches. Choose between salt or freshwater, or even enjoy both at one location.

Camping at Corney Brook. J. Pleau


Back country


Group camping




Ocean swimming




Hot water


Flush toilets




Tent sites


Camping Services

Kitchen shelters

Full hook-ups

With access to breathtaking hiking trails and spectacular beaches, our campsites range from full hook-ups to tent pads in the back country. Sites at Broad Cove and Chéticamp campgrounds can be reserved at or 1-877-737-3783.

Sightseeing along the western coastline.

Top 10 Geological Gems 1.

Grande Falaise – a “big cliff” with layers of history.


Presqu’ile – a fault running all the way to Newfoundland divides the pillar rock of volcanic Devonian basalt from shiny schist across the ponds.


Cap Rouge Look�off – exhibits samples of all major rock types found in the Highlands.


Boar’s Back – a narrow ridge crossing two glacially carved valleys joining French and MacKenzie Mountains with drops of 365 m on one side, 200m on the other.

Warren Lake - Our largest lake with resident loons and incredible mountain scenery warms up quickly in the summer to provide an enjoyable beach adventure for the whole family.


Oldest rocks in Nova Scotia – 1 billion + year old Grenville gneiss and anorthosite, once part of the Canadian Shield, can be spotted as you descend from North Mountain to Pleasant Bay.

Black Brook Beach - take in the ocean views at one of our most popular beaches bordered by a gentle waterfall on one end and intersected by a freshwater brook.


La Bloc Beach - the wharf reaching into the warm gulf waters reminds us of the Acadians who once lived near this pebbly beach on the west side of the park. Enjoy a walk along the coast, refreshing dip and spectacular sunsets.

Aspy Fault – the park’s most spectacular fault extends 30 km from the centre of the highlands to the ocean and may be related to the Great Glen Fault in Scotland. Check�out the view and exhibit on the North Mountain look�off.


Gypsum Cliffs – these white rocks, a relic from Cape Breton’s time in the tropics, can be viewed from the Cabot Trail near the Dingwall turn�off.


Black Brook Beach – spectacular granites, ca. 375 million years old, can be viewed as you lay on this award winning beach.


Middle Head Peninsula – 560 million year old diorite intruded by 495 million year old granite. Millennia have sculpted this narrow peninsula.

Ingonish Beach and Freshwater Lake - Jump from salt water at this sand and cobblestone beach to Freshwater Lake with just a few steps across the barrachois in between. Dogs are not permitted in the supervised area of the beach.

North Bay Beach - for those seeking a quieter, more secluded beach experience, this long expanse of sand beach is very inviting.

Broad Cove Beach - Dip into the Atlantic and rinse off in the neighbouring brook by this sandy beach at the foot of Broad Cove Campground.

Undertow and rip currents can be very dangerous. Please exercise caution while swimming at any ocean beach, especially in turbulent waters or after a storm. Undertows at Black Brook, Broad Cove and Ingonish Beach can be particularly strong.


Corney Brook Falls rests at the end of a 3 km walk along the Corney Brook Trail.

MacIntosh Brook Falls is nestled in the heart of the old growth forest of the Grand Anse Valley.

Beulach Ban Falls in the Aspy Valley is the highest waterfall in the park and just a few steps from the parking area.

Black Brook Beach’s waterfall tumbles into the Atlantic Ocean and can be viewed from the beach or Coastal Trail.

Mary Ann Falls, a splendid sight, with the greatest volume of all our waterfalls, rewards you after a 7 km drive up a dirt road and a short 200m walk.

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10. Ingonish Visitor Centre – built of dozens of fragments of different rock types that show a cross�section of Cape Breton’s geology. Picturesque Photography

Newlyweds at Mary Ann Falls.

Black Brook Beach's waterfall.

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Distance Chart (distances in km)




175 225 190 125




210 195 160 125



195 180 145 110



Neil’s Harbour Ingonish Beach

Marconi Alexander Graham Bell




/C an


rg ou sb ui Lo


h ac Be



k ec dd Ba


Cape North


ey dn Sy



Pleasant Bay

sh ni go In

170 150 115


rth No r pe ou rb Ca Ha il’s Ne


p m ica y ét Ba Ch nt sa ea Pl

135 200 170


Canso Causeway St. Peters Canal

na Na tio

ay ew us Ca

ist or


Si te

o ns Ca

Fortress of Louisbourg

Canso Islands

For weekly lists of local festivals, music, shows and events, visit park visitor centers or, and


Cycle part or all of the Cabot Trail, one of the world’s top ten cycling destinations (Lonely Planet). These Nova Scotia�based companies offer supported rides and rentals. See,,,,, cabot�trail�, and for more informtation.

Conceived and constructed under the watchful eye of world-renowned designer Stanley Thompson, the Cape Breton Highlands Links Golf Course ranks among the top 100 worldwide and often #1 in Canada. Its unique combination of sea side and mountain holes makes it a truly outstanding golfing experience. For more information, call 1�800�441�1118, or visit V. Mantycki


Cyclists taking in the view of Le Buttereau.

GEOCACHING Take on the challenge of searching for the park’s many geocaches and discovering our treasures. Begin your quest at park visitor centres, or visit

Cape Breton Highlands Links Golf Course

Available caches: 1. Eco�Cache Challenge – 5 caches along 17 km of trails, situated at the four corners of the park. Earn a trackable geocoin while supplies last. 2. Middle Head Multi�Cache – 5 caches hidden along the Middle Head Peninsula, an iconic park feature with a rich cultural history. 3. Fishing Cove – a traditional cache in a rolling landscape steeped with adventure and mystery. 4. It’s Your Fault – discover one of the earth’s breathtaking natural processes featured in this EarthCache. Accessible directly from the Cabot Trail. 5. Boomer’s Campground Kid Cache – learn about our native tree species at Chéticamp & Broad Cove campgrounds. A great introduction to geocaching. Stop by the Chéticamp Visitor Centre or Broad Cove Campground Kiosk.

Washrooms are open in all day use areas, campgrounds and park visitor centres from late May to early October. In addition, some washrooms and most pit privies are open from early May to late October. Note that in the northern section of the Cabot Trail, it is approximately 30 km and 30 minutes between the pit privies at Neil’s Brook and Big Intervale or 40 km and 40 minutes between flush toilets at Black Brook and MacIntosh Brook.

Visitors can place their own geocache but must contact park staff for details and national parks guidelines (e.g. no tradable items.) Find more information on our website:

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J. Pleau


Geocaching on the Acadian trail.

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2012 Cape Breton Highlands National Park - Activity Guide  

Cape Breton Highlands National Park 2012 Activity Guide..Choose your own Big Adventure.. Includes hiking, Challenges, Trails, Wildlife Safe...

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