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Fundy Parkway NB vs Cabot Trail Cape Breton NS - if you had to choose?

Fundy Parkway NB vs Cabot Trail Cape Breton NS - if you had to choose?

Old Mar 15th, 2015, 05:24 AM
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Fundy Parkway NB vs Cabot Trail Cape Breton NS - if you had to choose?

We have a camping trip planned for the east coast provinces this summer but also have enough time to return to Ontario via Boston and take in the scenery and history of Bar Harbour, Boston and Cape Cod.

We are headed to Bay of Fundy National Park, New Brunswick, then PEI National Park at Cavendish Beach, then Halifax Nova Scotia, then back to St Martins New Brunswick (location of scenic caves and the Fundy Trail Parkway), then south into Maine and Boston.

We originally had planned to stay in Baddeck or North Sydney for quite a few days on Cape Breton Island, take in the Fort at Louisbourg while also taking 2 days to travel the Cabot trail (overnighting in Pleasant Bay - leavng our trailer at base camp and not pulling it on the trail - we were warned!).

However we can't fit in both Cape Breton Island and PEI, while also heading south to Boston. Many might suggest we skip PEI altogether to take in Cape Breton (seems to depend on whether you are a beach person or a scenery hiker type). PEI however will be our only camp next to the ocean experience.

We have read reviews and been told that the Fundy Trail Parkway near St Martins, NB is a hidden gem that gives you similiar vista and hiking experiences as the Cabot trail on Cape Breton island, but with a whole lot less travel.

We are experienced campers/ travellers (took the kids to west coast and back). We have young kids still so extensive hiking out of the question plus extensive driving might be a drain on them and their stomachs. Skipping Cape Breton Island some would say is missing out on a big part of the east coast experience in Canada, but why not get that coastal vista experience from the Fundy Trail Parkway and just skip Cape Breton island altogether?

Any opionions? What will we miss if we skip Cape Breton Island?
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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 08:25 AM
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While the Fundy Trail Parkway is quite scenic, it is only 16km long--much shorter than the Cabot Trail, which in my opinion is spectacular in any places. If you skip Cape Breton, you will also miss Fortress Louisbourg which I think is an outstanding historical site, especially when all the animators are there. If the principal reason you are going to PEI is to camp by the ocean, you can certainly do that at a couple of campsites along the Cabot Trail. There are also short hikes close to the Trail which would not be too much for your kids.
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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 05:03 PM
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Thanks for your insight. Yes definately a big difference in experience Fundy Parkway vs Cabot trail. Comparing them probably not a fair assessment.

We will be going to the Citadel in Halifax so kids would get a fort experience there. It can be a challenge getting 6 and 8 year olds interested in history so a good blast of a canon like they do at the Citadel goes a long way to tweak their interest!

I guess we will have to decide whether to skip PEI altogether or as was originally thinking, skipping Cape Breton island. Was trying to visit each of the 3 provinces and like anything, can't see it all in one trip.

Visiting the maritimes does not have to be a one time only trip, especially if you are from Ontario. Just trying to get it all in with our entire crew of kids before the oldest goes off to school.

Decisions, decisions...
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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 07:09 PM
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both are great so just pick one and look forward to the other on a future trip. if you choose pei, include grenwich park. it's a nice flat walk from the parking lot towards a beautiful beach. bring hats and lots of water as there is no shade - flat walk. cabot trail, i camped at the national park by cheticamp, drove part of the trail one day and returned to the campground that night. then the next day, i drove the trail again to baddeck and camped there for 2 nights. did the skyline trail. it was easy. there are two paths. the one to the right is more rustic. beautiful and i saw a moose. then at the 1/2 way point there is a great overlook where i ate my lunch. walked back on the more "paved" route. i think it was about 3 hours. from baddeck, left early in the morning, spent a few hours at fortress louisburg on my way back to halifax. by pictou and the pei ferry, i liked the caribou-munroes provincial park. nice beach. i did a similar trip - maritimes, bar harbor area, boston, martha's vineyard and others...it was fabulous.
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Old Mar 15th, 2015, 07:25 PM
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in new brunswick, Kouchibouguac National Park and Fundy National Park are beutiful. if going to hopewell rocks, i recommend going at high tide for the first visit for about an hour. then return later in the day or next day (parking fee is good for 24 hours) for low tide to walk along "the bottom" so you can appreciate the difference. at a few places in nova scotia, i paid extra to reserve an ocean front site. it was well worth it at some places ... sitting by the campfire, watching and listening to the waves and not seeing anyone else in my eyesite. unfortunatly, when i was there, for several weeks, there was a fire ban. very disappointing as i love the nightime campfire. so come prepared to cook over a stove, just in case. have fun.
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Old Mar 16th, 2015, 06:45 AM
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Cabot Trail is just fantastic. I wouldn't miss it. Camp in Cheticamp and drive the stretch where all the famous photos come from in the evening as the sun hit the cliffs. The skyline trail is easy and offers great views and is good for wildlife. I saw 3 moose on the trail, including a calf that was surrounded by people and the cow didn't care. One person even tried to feed it (a bit stupid though). I also saw bald eagles, hawks and whales, all from the trail.

I went to the citadel and the Louisbourg when I was a kid and prefered Louisbourg.

I see lots of posts of parents concerned about kid and long drives. My family traveled across Canada when I was 8 and it was never a hardship (not for me, maybe for my parents with 4 kids). In fact, that trip sparked my interest in traveling.
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Old Mar 16th, 2015, 09:15 AM
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i agree that Louisbourg when the animators are there is a wonderful experience, and I would think much more likely to be appealing to the kids than the citadel. We took our 3 there on a camping trip when they were about 8-12 and they remember it with pleasure many years later. The Alexander Graham Bell museum in Baddeck was also a hit, especially with our son who was, and is, a big tinkerer and inventor.

Try to work some flexibility into your itinerary in case of bad weather. Cabot trail is less spectacular in rain and fog, so if you can, wait it out for a day. Of course the same could be said of the beach at PEI--the only time I was there, in July, it was cold as a fall Ontario day. I found PEI too much like the farm land of rural Ontario to be particularly interesting, but each to their own.

All the national parks in the maritimes are wonderful, and the interpretative programs more than justifies the cost of camping there, IMHO.

Since you are experienced campers I expect you will make the most of whatever you choose to do, and as other posters have said, there is always the next time.
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Old Mar 16th, 2015, 09:50 AM
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Eric_L was the drive from Baddeck particularily steep. Just wondering as we are pulling a trailer. I have been warned the Cabot trail has steep sections so our plan was to base camp it near Baddeck area then just drive with vehicle without trailer.

Thanks.
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Old Mar 17th, 2015, 12:32 PM
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Ok we made a decision. We are going to skip PEI this time around and do justice to the Nova Scotia portion of the trip and visit Cape Breton. I think PEI would be a perfect future week long trip, maybe rent a house centrally on the island instead of camping in a trailer.

thanks for all your advice.
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