Back in June we went to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Cape Breton. Despite the long drive, it was an awesome trip, one I highly recommend. The Maritimes of Canada have amazing scenery, and is an ideal place to go if you are looking for somewhere different.
We camped in Maine on the way up and our first visit was this beautiful seaside city, which offers trails and parks along the waterfront. We didn’t stay long, but we enjoyed our stop. I was most intrigued by an old fort in the harbor, called Fort Gorgeous. We enjoyed the bright sunshine as islands dotted the harbor.
Fundy National Park
We drove into New Brunswick under misty skies and entered this famous national park. The weather limited our hiking, but we did see Dickson Falls and its incredible gorge of moss as a crystal clear stream tumbled over the bedrock. Our longest hike was to Third Vault Falls, located in an isolated gorge. This falls was quite beautiful, about 50 feet tall. Another visit was to the red covered bridge at Point Wolfe, located above a rugged inlet from the Bay of Fundy. I really loved the Acadian forests with the spruce, fir, and pine. An Octopuses’ Garden Café in the nearby village of Alma was worth the stop.
This is the most famous place along the Bay of Fundy, famous for its otherworldly rock formations. The bay has the highest tides in the world, about 40 feet, and the power of the water has carved into the rocks, creating caves, spires, and other odd shapes. It was odd to walk on the bottom of the ocean. Be sure to visit when the tide is low so you can see the rock formations. The scope of these tides are amazing, they go out for miles, creating vast mud flats, and the Bay of Fundy has the color of chocolate milk. A visit to Hopewell Rocks is a must.
Cape Chignecto Provincial Park
We entered Nova Scotia as the skies began to clear. The countryside was scenic along the coast and we went off the beaten path to this park. Go there. It has an isolated feel and is truly beautiful. The Three Sisters formation was similar to Hopewell Rocks and the towering red cliffs and views of the bay were amazing. There were hidden coves with red beaches. The park also offers mountain scenery that gave a taste of Cape Breton. Towering plateaus dropped to the bay with canyons and gorges. The surrounding communities were laid back, friendly, and very scenic. I loved Cape Chignecto.
Five Islands Provincial Park
The drive from Cape Cignecto to Five Islands was very beautiful, one I highly recommend. Forested hills and valleys, sprinkled with fields drop down to the bay. There were non-stop views and quaint villages. Again, I’m surprised this part of Nova Scotia is not more famous. Five Islands is another excellent park. When the tide is low, you can walk out to see the colorful cliffs, sea stacks, and beaches. Islands are off the coast. We saw the locals dig in the sand for crabs, zipping around in their quads. Life revolves around the bay and its tides- something that seems so foreign to a Pennsylvanian. Our drive took us to the north coast of Nova Scotia where we stopped by the Cape George lighthouse.
Cape Breton Island
The highlight of the trip and one of the most beautiful places on the east coast. In my opinion, not even Acadia can rival the mountain coastal scenery of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. This place is just amazing with friendly people, scenic towns, and just beautiful scenery-if the weather cooperates. We were lucky with sunny skies and warm temperatures.
We camped at Wycocomagh Provincial Park, which had a very nice campground and bathrooms. The park also has trails, but we did not hike any. We drove north along Bras d’ Or Lake, a vast saltwater inlet that looks like a lake.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park
The ride to this park was very enjoyable, and I was excited to finally reach it. We were treated to amazing coastal scenery with cliffs and rock outcrops of pink feldspar with beaches. Ingonish was impressive with its bays and rugged scenery. Warren Lake was gorgeous with views of the mountains with a beach. Mary Ann Falls are the tallest in the park and was a short hike to the scenic cascade. Black Brook beach was a highlight with its tropical-like beach, a waterfall and trails that featured rugged coastal views. Our drive was now on the famous Cabot Trail, one of the world’s premier scenic drives which took us along rugged shores to the tops of alpine mountains. As we reached South Harbor, there were panoramas of distant mountains cut with deep gorges, cliffs, and alpine headlands rising above white beaches.
We decided to make the drive to Meat Cove, and I’m very glad we did. If I ever return, I’d like to spend more time there. The drive, again, was beautiful as we descended into Bay Saint Lawrence. We felt like we were at the end of the world with vast oceans and rugged mountains, but we had a way to go. The drive to Meat Cove, possibly the most isolated community you can drive to on the Atlantic coast, was unforgettable. The road was in good shape with non-stop views. Meat Cove is tucked into a narrow valley, surrounded by rugged mountains. A network of trails lead from this tiny village and we hiked one to a stunning grassy summit with views. The road ended near a campground perched on top of a bluff. Here, we truly felt like it was the end of the world. I hoped to hike some other trails, but we did not have time. The village got its name because fisherman could smell the meat when the moose were being butchered. Off shore were fishing boats heading back to harbor, like commuting to and from work. The sea is the livelihood for these people, similar to the farms where I live.
Our trip continued and we visited by Cabots Landing Provincial Park, where John Cabot allegedly landed on North America. There was not much there except for a parking area, field, and beach.
We continued back on the Cabot Trail as we drove through forested canyons, under forbidding cliffs, and across windswept, alpine mountaintops with gnarled spruce. A long descent through another canyon brought us to the Lone Shieling, a re-creation of a Scottish farm structure, and nearby was one of the largest old growth maple forests in the world. That night we camped at MacIntosh Brook campground, a very nice, quiet place with views of the mountains and a trail to a scenic waterfall. Down the road was the town of Pleasant Bay which had some restaurants, cafes, a Buddhist monastery, and more mountain scenery. It was nice to see civilization again, or at least a place that took a credit card. After eating we saw the sunset and rain clouds across the ocean.
The following day was simply incredible. The great weather continued and the Cabot Trail continued to impress with its scenery and vast alpine woodlands. We visited a bog with a long boardwalk that abounded with pitcher plants and sundews. We also hiked to an isolated pond. Next was the highlight-the famous Skyline Trail. We hiked this trail with its amazing views to a boardwalk down an alpine ridge with breathtaking views. I had long seen photos of the views from this boardwalk and it was great to see it in person. Below, canyons opened to the sea hundreds of feet below. On the hike back, we saw a couple snowshoe hares. If you hike one trail at Cape Breton, make it the Skyline Trail.
Cheticamp Visitor Center was next where we hiked to the Salmon Pools, deep pools and rapids with pink bedrock in a canyon. Again, it was beautiful. We also swam, but not for long-too cold. We left the park, amazed by the experience. Cape Breton Highlands National Park was one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen. Considering I saw license plates from across Canada and the U.S., others must think that as well.
We drove south along the shore with its beaches and mountains. We particularly enjoyed the town of Inverness. Scottish heritage is common in Cape Breton, where there are also efforts to keep the Gaelic language alive. We left Cape Breton and stayed the night near New Glasgow.
Prince Edward Island
Our trip continued along the north coast of Nova Scotia, which has the warmest beaches north of Virginia. The scenery was pastoral with views of the coast. Tatamagouche was a nice town with a great microbrewery. Ahead was the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island. On the island, we checked out its national park with its red bluffs, beaches, and dunes. The island has very pretty, rolling countryside and lots of Green Gables references but it is touristy and not really my kind of place. If you like shops, quaint towns, pastoral countryside, the coast, and Green Gables, PEI is your heaven. We left the island and paid $40 to cross the bridge for the privilege.
We headed back into New Brunswick where I had one of the best salads ever at a McDonalds, and made the long drive to Maine.
Cobscook Bay State Park
This was where we camped for our last night. It is a beautiful campground with wooded sites along the inlets of the ocean. Next we drove to Lubec, thinking it was the eastern most point of the US. We drove to Mowry Point, a run down place with a house half-completed. Odd, I thought, for the eastern most point of the country. I learned Quoddy Head was the eastern most point, but we were already driving west when I realized. After driving across Maine, we stopped by Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park with a lake and old growth forest. We hiked and had a picnic under the tall trees.
We then made the long drive back to PA. A great trip that I recommend to anyone.