Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Canada
Reload this Page >

Question: Best Location(s) for a Week in Cape Breton

Question: Best Location(s) for a Week in Cape Breton

Mar 12th, 2010, 03:54 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 715
Question: Best Location(s) for a Week in Cape Breton

I plan to spend a week in Cape Breton. We will spend at least two or three days hiking. I realize that distances take longer than normal in mountain driving, such as on the Cabot Trail. That leads to my question:

Should I book lodging in one centralized place, such as Baddeck, for the entire time or I should I book a place in the north end for half the time and a place in the south end for half the time?
MikeBuckley is offline  
Mar 12th, 2010, 08:31 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 14
If you want to hike, then best be near Skyline on the West Side about 40 minutes north of Margaree and then maybe up in Dingwall.

Try Ocean Haven B&b and then Inlet B&B
cabottrail is offline  
Mar 12th, 2010, 11:20 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 7,559
Mike,
Baddeck is a good starting point for the Cabot Trail. Depending on what time of day you would be arriving, I would suggest 1 or 2 nights in Baddeck. From Baddeck, you can do a "day trip" to Louisbourg. My favorite hotel/inn in Baddeck is The Inverary Inn located on the Bras d'or Lakes.

From Baddeck, I would begin touring the Cabot Trail in a counter-clockwise direction. Your direction is determined by personal preference & some here will suggest that you take the clockwise approach but for me, counter-clockwise is the way to go.

I would reserve 3 or 4 nights in Ingonish @ Keltic Lodge ( the Main Lodge not the "Inn"). In the past, some posters have suggested alternate places to stay & if you do a search here you will be able to retrieve that info.

So, that takes care of 5 or 6 nights.

When are you going to Cape Breton?

You mentioned "mountain driving". Although there is an area of the Cabot Trail called Kelly's Mountain, I have never considered Cape Breton to be "mountainous" in the sense that The Rockies are mountainous. More like "high hills"!!! The area is also referred to as The Cape Breton Highlands.

Have you ordered your Nova Scotia Doers' & Dreamers' Travel Guide & maps from www.novascotia.com ?

Have fun planning your trip. Cape Breton is spectacularly beautiful.
(Oh! I just remembered....depending on when you will be there, you shd allow for a "fog day".....no point touring the Cabot Trail if you can't see anything!!)
OceanBreeze1 is offline  
Mar 12th, 2010, 12:00 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 528
We stayed in Baddeck and Neil's Harbour and these two locations worked out well for us to see Cape Breton, drive the Cabot Trail, and to hike.
artsbabe is offline  
Mar 12th, 2010, 06:24 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 715
You folks are very helpful! All three of you suggest staying part of the time at the south end of the Cabot Trail and part of the time at the north end.

OceanBreeze, my reference to mountains has to do with some impressions I've had from a moderate amount (at best) of reading and from somebody's posts (possibly yours) about wishing they had rented a six-cylinder car instead of a four-cylinder car. I've been to the Canadian and Amerian Rockies, so your reference provides very helpful context.

We have Doers' and Dreamers'. However, I haven't found it very helpful other than the nice map in the opening spread. Am I missing something?

My wife and I are going to Cape Breton in late August and early September.

Great tip about planning for a "fog day!"

Thank again, everyone!
MikeBuckley is offline  
Mar 12th, 2010, 09:24 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 7,559
Mike,
Late August/early Sept is the perfect time to be on Cape Breton Island. The weather should be beautiful. That takes you into Labour Day weekend(Sept 3,4, 5 & 6 which is Labour Day) so just make sure you reserve your accommodations as early as possible.
Are you driving to Cape Breton or flying to Sydney or Halifax or what?

I thinkit was artsbabe who mentioned the 6 vs 4 cylinder.

About the D & D travel Guide....i have not looked @ it recently. it used to provide v/ helpful info. perhaps that has changed.
OceanBreeze1 is offline  
Mar 12th, 2010, 11:05 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 4,238
Baddeck, Mabou or Margaree.

It is amazing!
irecommend is offline  
Mar 13th, 2010, 05:35 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 715
Oceanbreeze,

I hope to make reservations this weekend. I'm actually way behind on that. I usually make reservations at least nine months ahead of time.

I think I'm flying to Sydney. I haven't worked out those details yet.

I'm also considering canceling a 3-day trip to Bar Harbor and spending those three days in Nova Scotia instead. The Bay of Fundy sounds appealing, but I'm open to ideas from you or anyone.
MikeBuckley is offline  
Mar 13th, 2010, 10:05 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 528
Yes, I mentioned the more powerful car but I think the lack of power was more a function of the car -- a little Hyundai Accent -- than on the number of cylinders per se. Does this make sense? My Honda Civic would have done fine.
artsbabe is offline  
Mar 13th, 2010, 10:14 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 7,559
artsbabe, nothing about cars makes sense to me!! But, I think I know what you mean.

Mike,
From where are you flying?
Westjet has a seasonal direct/non-stop from Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney(YQY) from May 21 to Oct 30, 2010.
OceanBreeze1 is offline  
Mar 13th, 2010, 12:31 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 47
There are some steep spots on the Cabot Trail as you enter and leave the 'highlands' portion of the island but once you're IN the highlands, it's more hilly than mountainous. You do really need to be on the lookout for moose on the roads once you're inside the national park boundaries!
Location wise, I'd pick somewhere like Ingonish or Neil's Harbour or Cheticamp on the other side of the park for your time after Baddeck.
Don't have any specific establishments to recommend as we camp when we go but I'll mention the Normaway Inn in Margaree (http://www.thenormawayinn.com) for a lovely place in the southern part of the island.
NS_Crowgirl is offline  
Mar 14th, 2010, 07:29 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 715
Hello, everyone!

I'm flying from the Washington DC area. I have booked my airline tickets to and from Halifax to reduce the cost about one-third.

By the way, I know nothing about cars also. I have heard that most of them usually have four wheels, but I haven't taken the time to verify that.

NS Crowgirl,

Very helpful information. Thank you!
MikeBuckley is offline  
Mar 14th, 2010, 07:37 PM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 715
Thanks, everyone! I booked my first choice of small apartments including the Labor Day weekend for the following itinerary (revision #3!):

Day 1 - Fly to Halifax
Day 2 - Drive to Whycococmagh taking the southern route
Days 3-5 Whycocomagh and environs (including hiking as far south as Arichat and maybe as far north as Cheticamp)
Days 6-9 - Ingonish Ferry and environs (including hiking in Highlands Park and a day trip as far around the top of the island as Cheticamp)
Day 10: Drive to Halifax taking the northern route
Day 11: Lighthouse Trail south of Halifax and return to Halifax
Day 12: Fly home

Thanks again for the great help!
MikeBuckley is offline  
Mar 15th, 2010, 02:17 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 470
Hi - I'd be interested in hearing other opinions about spending that much time specifically in Whycocomagh. However, my own quick driving tour through that area did not allow for much time to explore (although I remember pleasant scenery). And maybe you've found a specific accomodation that appeals to you. The Mabou Highlands however are not far and I have heard that there is excellent hiking in that area (hope to explore these trails myself this summer). Between Cheticamp and Ingonish you are in the National Park and there is excellent hiking at both ends and in between.
To me Baddeck is a pleasant little tourist town with a yacht harbour, some shops, cafes and restaurants, a number of Inns, and rolling countryside. Cape Breton National Park between Ingonish and Cheticamp is spectacularly scenic, with lots of coastal access and many rugged and wild sections. The Ceilidh Trail area is a mix of pastoral landscapes and quaint villages with a backdrop of forested hills and some lovely coastal views.
Although the road through the park is good, you may have a point about a small car engine - there are some steep sections - although on 3 visits I haven't noticed anyone having any particular trouble climbing the hills.
Personally I prefer the clockwise route through the park (and I've done both a good number of times), but opinions do vary.
Interesting comments about the Doers and Dreamers Guide. They changed the format a few years ago. It used to read like a travel guide, paragraph format with nicely detailed descriptions of myriad towns, sights and attractions in touring order - complete with directions. Now there are brief summaries of the highlights, lots of ads, and sections listing museums/attactions (but it doesn't read as well as the old format I think) and accommodations (I find the latter the most helpful thing in the guide - otherwise you should use Fodors and similar publications to help plan your trip).
mat54 is offline  
Mar 15th, 2010, 03:15 PM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 715
Hi, mat!

You're right that we did find specific accomodations that appeal to us in Whycocomagh. It's centrally located in the southern area of the island.

Remember that the geographic area that most people can see in two days takes us four days due to the photography and the hiking. As an example, from what I have seen about Arichat, we can easily spend an entire day there including hiking. There is a difficult hike because it is rocky that most people would never hike due to the rocky difficulty. Even so, we won't have time to hike it in entirety.

Your description of the Ceilidh Trail reminds me of New Zealand's north island. If so, I can't wait to see it!

Thanks for your post. It makes me hate to have to wait another six months to go.
MikeBuckley is offline  
Mar 16th, 2010, 01:32 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 840
While Arichat is a lovely spot, hiking really doesn't come to mind unless you want to climb over rocks along the shoreline? Whycocomagh is also a beautiful spot located along the shorelines of the lake but not a lot there. Baddeck is certainly central and has lots to offer. You may want to look at a couple of locations along the trail to spend a night or two. If you want rugged, I would suggest heading out to Meat Cove
Tanya is offline  
Mar 16th, 2010, 04:17 AM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 715
Tanya,

Thanks for your suggestion of Meat Cove. I had not come across that yet.

The rocky shoreline of Arichat is exactly the hike that is appealing to us.
MikeBuckley is offline  
Mar 20th, 2010, 06:04 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 528
Re Doers & Dreamers, we ordered it last summer prior to our trip last August and found it virtually useless -- all ads. We used the Internet, this site, and Tripadvisor to find accomodations.
artsbabe is offline  
Mar 20th, 2010, 11:45 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 7,559
artsbabe, thanks for the update on D & D. I will stop recommending it.
That's too bad b/c it used to be a helpful publication.
OceanBreeze1 is offline  
Mar 20th, 2010, 04:51 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 4,238
If you go to the Provincial Campground in Whycogomagh there is a hiking trail there that is up the hill that is nice.
Also at the tourist info centre when you first cross the Causeway there is a map of all the hiking trails on the Island. You must do the Skyline trail. It is very popular but its a show stopper!
irecommend is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:51 PM.