The extensive Cape Breton Highlands National Park, beginning 9km north of Chéticamp, offers some of the most mesmerizing scenery anywhere in the Maritimes – a mix of deep wooded valleys, rocky coastal headlands, soft green hills and boggy upland. Although visitors get a sniff of the park travelling by car – 120km of Cabot Trail trimming its northern edge – the essence of the place is only revealed on foot.

Though much of the park is actually off-limits to the public, land bordering the Cabot Trail can be explored by 25 hiking trails signposted from the road, some of them the easiest of woodland strolls, others offering steeper climbs to small lakes, waterfalls and rugged coastal viewpoints. One of the most popular is the 9.2km Skyline Loop Trail (2–3hr), which clambers up the coastal mountains north of Corney Brook, a few kilometres up the coast from Chéticamp. Another rewarding trail is the 7.4km Franey Loop Trail (3–4hr), a steep walk up through the mountains and lakes north of Ingonish Beach. Most of the wildlife inhabits the inner reaches of the park: garter snakes, red-backed salamanders, snowshoe hares and moose are common, while bald eagles, black bear and lynx are rarer. The only artificial sight is the Lone Sheiling, a somewhat battered 1930s replica of the stone shelters once built by Highlanders beside their mountain pastures. The hut is on the northern perimeter of the park in a valley that was settled by Scots in the early 1800s; it is accessible along a short and easy footpath from the road, providing a rare taster of the hardwood forests that make up the park’s central (and strictly protected) zone.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Canada features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

7 unusual ways to explore Canada's Bay of Fundy

7 unusual ways to explore Canada's Bay of Fundy

Inscribed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of North America – rubbing shoulders with perennial favourites such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone – Cana…

01 Feb 2018 • Edward Aves insert_drive_file Article
Canada 150+: healing the divide on Spirit Island

Canada 150+: healing the divide on Spirit Island

Canada's 150th celebrations, complete with flags and fireworks, have been in full swing for the entirety of 2017 – but the year has also been a chance to shin…

20 Dec 2017 • Edward Aves local_activity Special feature
20 picturesque Christmas destinations

20 picturesque Christmas destinations

Dreaming of a trip this Christmas? We're here to help. From glittering cities to a few snowy escapes, here are 20 classic destinations for a festive break. …

12 Dec 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right