Length: 16 km (10 mi) return
Hiking Time: 5+hr
Type of Trail: natural surface, compacted earth
Uses (no snow): walking, biking, horseback riding, ATVs
Uses (snow): cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing
Facilities: camping, tables, water, outhouses (at trailhead only)
Dog Use: off-leash permitted
Gov’t Topo Map: 11N02 (Cape St. Lawrence)
Rating (1-5): 4 [distance, elevation change]
Trailhead GPS: N 47° 01 35.2 W 60° 33 33.3
Access Information: Turn off the Cabot Trail at Cape North Village onto the Bay St. Lawrence Road. At 15.5 km (9.75 mi), Turn sharply left onto the Meat Cove Road, which is paved for the first 6 km (3.75 mi), but for the last 7 km (4.25 mi) is narrow dirt road. Follow it to the Meat Cove Campground, and park there.
Introduction: If Nova Scotia has any community that looks like an alpine village, it is Meat Cove. Situated near the extreme northern tip of Cape Breton Island, the road literally ends here, the dirt track from Bay St. Lawrence hugging steep hillsides above sheer coastal cliffs until it drops into the deep ravine carved by Meat Cove Brook. This appears to be a trail at the end of the earth, and is as remote as it seems.
Meat Cove earned its name in the late 1700s, when the stench of slaughtered moose caused complaints from passing ships. There are numerous hiking options available near the community; the one described was profiled originally in Walk Cape Breton, published in 1975. The Cape St. Lawrence-Lowland Cove loop can be a challenging one-day trek, or undertaken as a more relaxed two-day campout.
Cautionary Notes: Wildlife, rugged terrain, hunting is permitted in season. No cell phone reception.
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.