Skip to main content
  • Cabot Trail
  • , Cape Breton Highlands National Park
  • , Hiking
  • , Outdoor Adventure
  • , Spring

Surrounded by Highlands: Hiking the Salmon Pool Trails

Story by: Nicole & Colby

One of our favourite parts of this hike is the sound of the river beside you as you wander through the forest and see the stunning mountains of the Highlands around you.

Ahhh Summer has finally arrived in the Maritimes!! Yay!! We consider ourselves lucky to live on the East Coast where we can explore any time of the year and see the beauty around us. However, there is just something special about Summertime adventures, with the warm ocean breeze, rugged coastlines and lush green forests.

With the arrival of Summer comes perfect hiking/camping weather. So last week we set out to find a trail we’ve never done. After a little research, we decided on the Salmon Pools Trail. Surprisingly not one of the most popular trails inside the Cape Breton Highlands National Park but we’re hoping to change that.

A trail in a dense forest

This hike is ideal for anyone who enjoys the outdoors, young or old. It’s a fairly even and well-defined trail. You’ll discover three pools along your journey, some more challenging than others to get too. Due to erosion on the trail, we didn’t make it to the second or third pool. We’re not sure if Parks Canada plans to do any repairs during the Summer, but we still enjoyed this hike and we’re sure you will too.

A dense forest landscape and a small river

The trailhead is located inside the Chéticamp Campground not far from the visitor centre in the National Park. It follows the bottom of the Chéticamp river canyon with cliffs almost 400 meters (1300 ft.) towering high above. The First Pool is about 3.6 km up the Chéticamp River. The trail narrows and continues to Chance Pool, where exposed bedrock makes for a great place to take a break and take in the views. The trail then narrows to the Third Pool which marks the end of the trail. If you make it to the deeper pools, watch for Atlantic salmon and barred owls near dusk.

One of our favourite parts of this hike is the sound of the river beside you as you wander through the forest and see the stunning mountains of the Highlands around you.

A rushing river surrounded by dense forest

If you enjoy fishing, this is also an ideal location. We met a man fishing along the way, who bicycled up the trail with his fishing gear to spend the day along the river. Salmon rest in the pools to recover from climbing the rapids. This makes them easy prey for anglers. However, any salmon caught have to be released unharmed back to the waters.

If you prefer biking over walking, bikes are permitted on the trail. But there are some rough sections along the way once you pass the first pool.

You never know what you’ll see or find in the forest. We stumbled upon this cute little cabin that we later came to realize was the park wardens.

A log cabin in the woods

So if you’re looking for a fairly easy and beautiful hike, we highly recommend you put the Salmon Pools on your list. Thanks for following along on the journey!

A river surrounded by trees
A man and woman sit in adirondack chairs on the beach

Nicole & Colby | Local Hiking Ambassadors

Driven by a passion for adventure, photography, food and culture, Nicole Boutilier and Colby Veinotte started Explore the East as a way to share their adventures and highlight some lesser known areas of the Maritimes.

Locals Know Blogs