We woke up to a glorious sunny calm day looking directly out onto the lake Bras d’Or. We were so close to the water we could have jumped out of the window directly into the lake. This is the kind of waterfront view for which people pay a lot of money and it was all ours for free!
After a lazy morning doing homework and enjoying the view we drove to the town of Baddeck for lunch. It was a nice little lakeside town but it wasn’t really that special so we just got some slices of cheap pizza before heading on towards Cape Breton Highlands National Park. This drive is more famously known as the Cabot Trail and is considered one of the most scenic drives in Canada.
The road went along the ocean and then up a mountain to give sweeping views of the jagged coast. We felt we were driving Highway 1 in Southern California. We are so spoiled from living in California, it has pretty every type of landscape imaginable and everywhere we go we are reminded of parts of California. An hour later we reached the park entrance and paid the CAD$14 entrance fee.
A short way past the entrance gate we stopped to go walk the Middle Head trail. This is an easy 1 hour round trip trail out a high narrow peninsula that sticks out into the ocean. It was an unpaved but improved trail that went through dense forest with occasional grand views of the ocean below. There were several cool areas where the roots of the trees formed stairs up and down the hills. Olivia and I joked that those were stair trees. Eventually we reached the tip of the peninsula and they had thoughtfully placed one nice chair looking out over the ocean. We had a bit of a rest and some snacks before walking back to Rover. Even though it was listed as a 1 hour trail we went slowly and had rests so it took us much longer and it the sun was already setting by the time we finished.
It was almost fully dark by the time we got to the spot listed in iOverlander near Neils Harbour but we didn’t like it so we looked around a found a lovely small parking lot by some picnic tables at the nearby Neils Harbour Pond. The park officially closed at 11:30pm and we normally don’t like to park where we shouldn’t but it would be another 40 minutes to the next possibility listed in iOverlander and we didn’t want to drive in the dark. It turned out fine and we had a quiet night, waking up again to another gorgeous water view.
The next day we drove further along the Cabot Trail enjoying more grand views of the rugged coast but this time it was more like Highway 1 in Northern California with houses on wide open pastures on the cliff next to the ocean.
Eventually we reached the exit to the Cape Breton National Park and stopped at the Gypsum Mine Trail. This is an easy 20 minute walk along an unpaved road to an old open pit Gypsum Mine that has since filled with water and is now a very pretty lake. It is possible to swim in the lake but it was too cold that day for us to try it. We spent an hour enjoying the lake before heading back to Rover. There are many other scenic hikes in the park but with an 8 year old who doesn’t particularly likes walking we didn’t try any of the longer hikes.
That night we found ourselves back in Whycocomagh so we returned to the parking spot by the lake.