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5 Challenging Hikes To Do This Fall

Story by: Team Destination Cape Breton

Looking to take your hiking game to the next level this fall? Well, these five trails are sure to help you do just that. If you’re looking for a challenging hike, with views that will more than pay-off, these hikes are perfect—and bonus the fall is the best time as you’ll get to enjoy all of the changing leaves!

1. Tenerife

Tenerife Peak, also known as Theodore Fricker Mountain, is a 3.7 kilometre out and back trail, located between the villages of Cape North and Dingwall on Cape Breton Island. Blink and you’ll miss the start of the trail which takes you up through a beautiful forest. The trail starts off gentle then takes you up a very steep slope for the remainder of the hike. As you near the summit, you’ll be above the trees and the reward is stunning 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape. After you’ve caught your breath hike the short ridge-line for even more beautiful views.

Pro tip: Watch out for any loose rocks as you near the top.

5 Challenging Hikes To Do This Fall

2. Franey Mountain

The Franey Mountain Trail a 7.6 kilometre hike, that takes about 2.5 hours to complete. It starts off climbing slowly through hardwood/softwood forest, eventually making it to the first steep section. From there it becomes tougher as you climb, eventually reaching the summit 335 meters above sea level. You climb up and up and your reward is at the top! Large flat rocks give you a nice place to sit and enjoy the 360-degree views of the entire Clyburn Brook canyon and the Atlantic coastline from Cape Smokey to Ingonish. The view is priceless, considered one of Cape Breton’s showcase views. Gaze back at the mountains, the sheer rocky face of Franey Mountain, or the river winding through the valley—425 metres below. Remember to keep an eye out for wildlife, as moose like this habitat too.

Pro tip: Be prepared for a steep climb and rugged sections.

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3. Meat Cove Mountain

The Meat Cove Mountain trail is a somewhat short, but very steep and difficult mountain hike. This trail is easy to miss, but definitely worth the steep hike up to the top. There is a white and red sign on the left side of the road going into Meat Cove—if you reach the bridge you’ve gone too far. The trail leads you to breathtaking views of the Cape Breton Highlands and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as views of the town of Meat Cove. Ropes have been placed alongside the trail to help hikers with some of the steeper sections. Once you reach the top, the trail extends in two different directions to provide various viewpoints of the scenery. The way down is very steep, but the ropes help to guide you safely down. This trail is steep, but the views are well worth it!

Pro tip: Bring a container with you, as the top of the mountain is covered with wild blueberries!

hikers stop to admire the fall foliage

4. North River Falls

The hike is a well-maintained trail, part of the North River Provincial Park and Wilderness Area.  Offering the highest falls in Nova Scotia at 105 feet, the hike is one of the more challenging ones on this list. It’s a 7-hour total hike, with parts of the trail having guardrails, footbridges, and benches. Other parts are rocky and quite rough. The first few kilometres are on the easier side, but the level of difficulty increases as you head toward the falls. The long hike pays off with the breathtaking sight of the Falls, which are considered to be the largest waterfalls in the Maritimes!

Pro tip: Bring a swimming suit—you’ll want to take full advantage of the stunning waterfall.

7 Natural Wonders of Autumn on Cape Breton Island 6

5. Fishing Cove Trail 

Located in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the Fishing Cove Trail is a difficult trail, taking between five to six hours, with a length of 12 km in total. You will hike from the top of the mountain, which is about six kilometres down, to a small ocean cove and grassy clearing—the only designated wilderness camp site in the park. This clearing was once the site of a Scottish fishing community, where settlers traded with the French for supplies. While there explore the beach, roam the hills, or swim in fresh or salt water. Fun fact, while hiking this trail you are 355 metres above sea level!

Pro tip: Pack a swimming suit in case you decide to go for a dip in the cove!

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So, there you have it—five fall hikes that are sure to make you sweat! Fall is the perfect time to come and explore the stunning outdoor scenery that exists here. Take in the colourful fall leaves and experience all of the wonders of Autumn here on Cape Breton Island.