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4 Winter Days Along the Cabot Trail

Story by: Ashley MacDonald

If you haven’t ventured around the Cabot Trail during the winter, add it to your list! The highlands are absolutely stunning in the winter and there are lots of trails to snowshoe and other winter activities available too. Here’s how I spent four days along the Cabot Trail


Ski Cape Smokey 2

Day 1: Snowboarding in Ingonish

On my first day, I travelled to Ski Cape Smokey in Ingonish to snowboard! The conditions were amazing and you have great ocean views while skiing down the hill. There’s also a restaurant on site that serves pub-style food for when you inevitably work up an appetite from hitting the slopes. That night I stayed at the Knotty Pines Cottages which are right along the water and have a beautiful view! Plus they’re only a 2-minute drive away from the ski hill.

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Day 2: Snowshoeing Broad Cove Mountain

Only a short drive from Ingonish is the Broad Cove Mountain Trail which is a 2.3 km return hike. The road to the trailhead isn’t plowed so be sure to add an extra few hundred metres to snowshoe to the trailhead. Once up the mountain you’re greeted by a beautiful view and are able to see all the way to Cape Smokey.

From there, I travelled to Cape North, taking the Coastal Loop detour to have an ocean view along the way. That evening stayed at the always awesome Highlands Hostel, which was converted from an old church, and is perfectly located to explore the northern tip of the island. 

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Day 3: Snowshoeing in Chéticamp

The next morning I drove to Chéticamp and snowshoed the Salmon Pools Trail, which is a 7.8 km return hike. You can park at the Parks Canada Visitor Centre and the trailhead is located at the back of the Chéticamp campground. You get beautiful views of the Chéticamp River with mountains in the background along the way! I then ate a delicious supper at the Doryman Pub and Grill, which had ocean views from the table. I spent the night at Maison Fiset House, which has a jacuzzi in the room (perfect after a day of snowshoeing) and another gorgeous ocean view from the balcony!

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Day 4: Lake O’Law and The Dancing Goat Café & Bakery

The next morning I continued on the Cabot Trail to Margaree, where I got breakfast at The Dancing Goat Café & Bakery. This place is a must-do if you’re going through Margaree and one of my favourite restaurants on the island! This was my last snowshoe of the trip, I did the Lake O’Law Nature Trail, which runs through a beautiful forest beside the lake. 

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Cabot Trail Winter Tips:

Due to the seasonal closures of many restaurants along the Cabot Trail, it’s important to research ahead of time to find out what’s open and what’s not. When I stayed at the Highlands Hostel, I brought my own groceries to cook supper there. Another thing to note is that after a snowfall or when there are high winds, the road over North Mountain may close, so also check ahead for that.

Enjoy your winter trip around the trail!

A woman taking a photograph

Ashley MacDonald | Local Outdoor Ambassador

Ashley is from Middle River, Cape Breton Island and is currently a university student studying Engineering. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, photography, camping, and going on all the adventures Cape Breton has to offer.

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