I’ve wanted to hike the Skyline Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park for years. Last week Dad and I finally hiked it!
We had watched the weather for a few days for an opening in the clouds so we could take advantage of the views. We timed it perfectly!
When we got close to the trail we saw a big rolly polly black bear down on the side of the cliff below the Skyline’s ridge. The hikers likely had no idea it was there!
The trail walks across the highlands and ends at a scenic overview. Then you can choose to hike back the same way, or take the rougher back country trail. We were near the end of the day, so we chose the same path in and out route for a total of 7.5 kilometres.
The trail was really quite easy. It was wide and even enough for a stroller (we passed one!). There is a sign at the beginning of the trail warning you to hike with hiking poles, and to fight any coyotes with everything you have. A hiker was killed on this trail a few years back by coyotes 🙁 The sign also warned to leave the moose alone, and let them have the trail if they wanted it.
The park staff at the visitor’s centre has also warned us that it was mating season for the moose, and they were agitated and aggressive!
Here are some pictures from along the trail:
When we got to the forested part of the trail, we caught up with some workers who were clearing trees from along the trail. They had put their chainsaw down and were all staring into the woods. They said a big male moose was just there and wasn’t bothered by the sound of the chainsaw at all. We couldn’t find him, so we continued on.
Here is the boardwalk as we approached the end. The boardwalk it to keep people off the delicate highland vegetation. I believe the sign said there would be a $2000 fine for anyone who left the boardwalk!
At the end of the trail, you can go down a lot of stairs to get views from other platforms. I’m in much better shape, but I’m still a work-in-progress, so Dad went down on his own. I stayed and took out my binoculars to look for whales, but there were none to be seen.
After we got our share of the view, we turned around to head back. Most of the trail was slightly down hill all the way to the viewing platform, so the walk back a bit uphill, but not too bad. I stopped a few times for some water. I also hiked with my hiking poles in case we saw any coyotes, but we didn’t.When we got close to where the workers had been standing earlier, I heard a rustling in the woods.
“Dad. Dad! Slow up! Hear that? I think there is something in the woods!”
We walked along with him, but didn’t get much of a glimpse at first. I was super nervous to be on an open part of the trail – I was sure he was going to want to run across!
Soon we were joined by a few other hikers, and then we saw two moose! The butt end of a smaller one, and then the big bull moose appeared!
I hid in a clump of trees! I was so sure he was going to come across the trail. He was clearly agitated, but I guess not at us, because he eventually just laid down right near us. He was breathing really heavy.
Dad was clearly braver than I. Here is a comparison of my photo of the moose, from my hiding place in the trees, and Dad’s:
After a while, we carried on and back to the parking lot. It was getting closer to sunset, but there were still some hikers heading in. I’m not sure I’d want to be on that trail full of hungry animals in the dark, but to each their own.
We were so pleased we got to do the hike in perfect weather. But now it was approaching sunset, at the end of September, and we were up in the highlands and had no where to stay.
We started driving, stopping at all the look outs for some more pictures. Another moose came out to visit:
I had Nova Scotia’s book of motel/hotels but there wasn’t too many great choices. We found a couple little motels, but they were in towns with no where to eat!
We finally found a little motel strip in Ingonish, and luckily we also found a open restaurant, the Coastal Waters. Even better, it had been featured on You gotta eat here!
Dad and I scooted back to grab a room at the motel, and then headed back to the Coastal Waters and each started off with one of these beauties:
For dinner, we both picked the scallop and shrimp bacon carbonara.
The cottage room we got was perfect.
The next morning we went down the road to the only breakfast place we heard was open.
Next stop, the Cape Breton Miner’s Museum in Glace Bay!