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Things to do on Cape Breton Island

cape breton island hikes

My mom and I turned into the French Mountain parking lot in Cape Breton’s Highlands National Park. After pulling into a parking space I walked over to the Skyline Trail sign. I had been told hiking the Skyline trail was one of the best things to do on Cape Breton. This was supposed to be the best hike in the park for views. I had heard about it, seen pictures, and read about it. I had drunk the Skyline Trail Kool-Aid, and I wanted to do it.

Looking at the map we determined it didn’t look too hard, but it would take a couple of hours to complete. We looked at each other and realized we didn’t have time to do it; we had to keep going. 

If we stopped to hike all of the incredible trails in the park we’d never make it around the Cabot Trail in a day and to our hotel! I reluctantly got back in the car and we kept going with a sinking feeling.

Cape Breton Island in Canada is known for outdoor activities and adventures, and I didn’t really have time to do any of them. The only solace I could muster up was making a pact with myself I would come back again so I could do all of the best things to do on Cape Breton.

Fast-forward four years and I’m back on Cape Breton Island to fulfill that plan. I spent a week on the island with friends Pete and Dalene of Hecktic Travels. We focused on getting outside each day on a different hike, adventure, or experience. This way we were able to see and experience the variety of activities the island offered.

The Best Things to do on Cape Breton

Skyline Trail Hike

Difficulty: Easy – well marked and there isn’t much elevation change. The trail itself is well-groomed and easy to walk. The loop section is a bit more rugged, but still in the easy category. 

Distance: 4 miles return or 5.1-mile loop 

Location: Located in Cape Breton Highlands National Park along the Cabot Trail at the top of French Mountain. There are signs for the parking lot.

The terrain is fairly average for the first two-thirds of the walk as you wind through the forest and get teased by views of Cabot Trail through the trees. But it’s the last third that will have you oohing and aahing.

You suddenly leave the forest area behind and are high on top of a headland cliff overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence. A boardwalk with stairs leads you down to a viewpoint with benches. Keep your…

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