Looking for the perfect fall getaway in the Maritimes? Well make sure to check out the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Especially in October when the leaves are starting to change, but honestly with it’s huge cliffs and beautiful coast, it’s probably just as gorgeous any time of the year.
The Cabot Trail took us almost a full day of driving, and you could easily stretch it out into more than a day and enjoy all of the sights and stops on the way too. There are so many hiking trails to stop and enjoy during the drive if that’s your sort of thing!
The Cabot Trail is named after John Cabot, an Italian explorer who adventured to our Nova Scotian shores in 1497 on an expedition for the King of England.
The trail is 298 kilometres of driving (or 185.2 miles) of purely stunning mountains and coast lines. It looks like you stepped into the highlands of Scotland, but instead you are in the highlands of Cape Breton right here in Canada.
We started our road trip out of Sydney, Nova Scotia where we spent the night prior. We drove up to Englishtown and hopped on the tiniest ferry I’ve ever seen in my life. It is a whopping 2 minute ferry ride on an electric cable ferry that takes you about 400 feet across the channel to your destination. There is currently no fare cost due to COVID, however on a normal day this will only cost you $7 per car and it is a really fun way to start your road trip on the Cabot Trail. You can also start your journey through the Cabot Trail at the opposite end as well more near Cheticamp, but we wanted to spend the night in the city of Sydney and go to the Fortress of Louisbourg the day before (make sure to check back later for a blog post and another YouTube vlog of our day at Louisbourg!)
Once you enter the Cape Breton National Park, there are so many “look off points” to pull off the road safely and get out to take in all of the views. We stopped a little bit after Ingonish Beach to find a picnic table overlooking the water.
If you’ve watched my YouTube vlogs before you’ll know I’m a huge fan of picnics, and this was my opportunity to have the “perfect” fall picnic. This road trip was the day after Thanksgiving here in Canada, so we made leftover turkey sandwiches with a cranberry mayonnaise, with my homemade apple pies cooked in mini skillets for dessert. We even made sure we had a thermos full of tea (since it was a bit chilly by the water) and had a little pumpkin candle for our picnic ambience.
After we enjoyed our picnic, we continued driving around the Cabot Trail and making sure to stop at any look out points that we could. A little further up the road in the park, there is a really cute little fishing community – which of course includes a lighthouse! Make sure to pull off the trail a bit and check out the lighthouse here on your road trip.
Once you are along the northern coast of Cape Breton, there’s an area to drive up further north to “Meat Cove”, which is a little off of the beaten path (literally its a dirt road most of the way to Meat Cove!) its adding a bit more to your “298 kilometre drive” around the Cabot Trail, but the views really are worth it. Even more hills, cliffs and coast to view but it truly is breathtaking.
Once you are back on the “official” Cabot Trail, make sure to always pull over and check out all of the great photo opts there. There are plenty of spots to safely pull over and take amazing photos, or to just simply relax and take in the view.
As you can see from above, it’s even more beautiful (if possible) in the fall with all of the leaves changing colours.
We ended up dragging out our road trip even longer because there was just so much to stop and look at, that we had to stay an extra night in Cape Breton. We decided to stay at the Inverary Resort in Baddeck, Nova Scotia so that we could relax and enjoy the rest of our evening. If you are big into camping, or even “glamping” there are plenty of places along the Cabot Trail for you to stop, we personally chose the hotel route instead, but on our way there we passed these really cool “glamping” domes. They are right on the water and are actually very fancy inside with a full kitchen and everything that you need, some even have hot tubs.
Whenever you have the opportunity, we highly recommend taking a drive through the beautiful Cabot Trail. It truly is a beautiful experience and a drive you will thoroughly enjoy.
If you want to laugh, and see more of our journey along the Cabot Trail, check out our YouTube vlog below “Exploring the Cabot Trail” – Greg will even give you a tour of an outhouse… lucky you! You’ll also see the fun car trouble we had. Make sure to like and subscribe if you haven’t already!