Celtic Shores Coastal Trail
The Celtic Shores Coastal Trail is a 92-km (57-mi) multi-use trail stretching from Port Hastings to the Town of Inverness on the west coast of the spectacular Cape Breton Island.
Great for off-road cycling or long distance trekking, the easy, flat trail meanders along the coastline, through picturesque wilderness, skirts streams, and connects several communities and attractions. Along the way you will find active fishing harbours, warm-water beaches in Port Hood, West Mabou, and Inverness, the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique along with five other museums, Glenora Distillery, the Cabot Links Golf Course, and the not-to-be-missed Red Shoe Pub in Mabou. All of this is complimented with a variety of accommodations, restaurants, places to shop, some of the best live Celtic music on the island and a unique living Gaelic culture.
Along the trail you find community kiosks and interpretive panels that will provide you with a glimpse of local history and culture. This trail is part of the Trans Canada Trail and the International Appalachian Trail.
Trailheads: There are over thirty trailheads and access points along the trail. From the Canso Causeway, the trail begins with a 2-km hikeable tide-washed section. Cyclists are recommended to bypass the Port Hastings trailhead and access the trail in Troy along Route 19. For location and GPS coordinates visit the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail website.
Surface: unpaved but smooth and hard-packed for most of the trail. (Upgrading yearly)
Cycling Speed: 20 km/hr (12 miles/hr)
The trail grade is almost flat with very few slight inclines as prevalent in rail trail. Hybrid or mountain bikes are best suited for this trail. Other uses include hiking, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, ATVing, equestrian & geocaching.
Some highlights from along the trail:
The trail begins just as you cross the Canso Causeway entering Cape Breton taking you along the first 20 kms through the communities of Port Hastings, Troy, Creignish, Craigmore and Long Point. Stop by the provincial visitor information centre in Port Hastings (seasonally: May to October), pack a picnic for the Troy Station trailhead or Christy’s Look-Off, both provide a rest stop and a grand view of St. George’s Bay. Be sure to watch for pilot whales, bald eagles and a vast array of coastal birds as you enjoy the fantastic coastal view along the route.
The next 20 kilometres, from Long Point to Little Judique Harbour, will take you past three active fishing communities. In Judique, stop in to the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre for lunch, live music, and to try your skill at step dancing. The quiet Tartan Gardens and gazebo provide a rest and reflection area.
The next section of trail takes you to Port Hood, a perfect stop over for a treat at MacDonald’s Ice Cream Barn or Bikinis & Trunks Ice Cream Bar and dip in the warm waters of the Port Hood beach. The trail then heads inland to the Village of Mabou, home of the Red Shoe Pub where foot stomping Celtic music is always on tap. The rolling hills of the highlands, Mabou waterfront and scenes along the waterway are a photographer’s delight. Not far from Mabou is Glenora Inn and Distillery where you can sample the signature Glen Breton Rare Single Malt Whisky.
The final section of trail brings you in to the town of Inverness where you will find another wonderful sandy beach, the new Cabot Links Golf Course, live harness racing, the Miners’ Museum, and the Inverness County Centre for the Arts.
The trail is alive with Celtic experiences in villages along the trail in festivals, concerts, square dances and Ceilidh’s, a Gaelic term for a party or gathering. Plan a trip on the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail and experience the ride of your life!