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Length:   16 km (10 mi) return
Hiking Time:   4+hr
Type of Trail:   compacted earth, natural surface
Uses (no snow):   walking, ATVs*
Uses (snow):   snowshoeing
Facilities:   none
Dog Use:   off-leash permitted

Gov’t Topo Map:   11F09 (Framboise)
Rating (1-5):   4 [distance, rugged terrain]

Trailhead GPS Reference:   N 45 41” 26.7’, W 60 20” 41.6’

Access Information: From St. Peter’s Canal, drive 11.5 km (7.2mi) on Highway 4 toward Sydney. Turn right onto Soldiers Cove Road, turning left onto St Peters Fourchu Road in 10 km (.625 mi). Continue for 29.8 km (18.6 mi), turning right onto Crooked Lake Road, which is dirt. After 3.2 km (2 mi), turn right onto #640 Crooked Lake Road. Continue to gate, about 850m/yd, and park without blocking access.

From Sydney, take Exit 7 on Highway 125 onto Highway 327. Follow for 35.5 km (22.2 mi), turning right onto St. Peters Fourchu Road. Continue for 27.3 km (17.1 mi), turning left onto Crooked Lake Road, which is dirt. After 3.2 km (2 mi), turn right onto #640 Crooked Lake Road. Continue to gate, about 850m/yd, and park without blocking access.

Introduction: Glaciers deposited layers of gravel and sand averaging more than 12 m (40 ft) thick over much of south-eastern Cape Breton with drumlins, large smooth hills of glacial till, being common. Red Cape, and the cliffs above English Cove on which you start, are examples of drumlin being consumed by the sea. The shoreline is indented with small protected bays, such as Capelin Cove and Fox Cove, and these nearly always contain a sand beach, deposits from the eroding drumlins.

This hike is not recommended for children or novices. The crossing of Marie Joseph Gut can be tricky, depending upon season, tide conditions, and rainfall levels. For those who do walk it, however, you will enjoy a wonderful trek through a marvellously attractive stretch of deserted coastline, including several sand and cobble beaches, shaped from the glacial till covering Richmond County by the relentless erosion of the pounding North Atlantic.

Special thanks to the owners of the house at Marie Joseph Gut, Jim and Mary Fennessey, who have given permission for passage across their property. In their own words, “we welcome walkers and look forward to seeing many more in the future.”

Cautionary Notes: Wildlife. Rugged terrain. Cell Phone reception is good at trailhead; disappears after first drumlin.

Ratings are designated from 1 to 5 indicating suitability for all fitness and experience levels, with 5 being suitable only for experienced and very fit outdoor people. Novices should only choose level 1 and 2 hikes, and work their way up. Level 4 and 5 hikes have indicators associated with their ratings.

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