BY BRAD DONALDSON
This winter, we’ll be highlight some of the province’s best trails for snowshoeing. For part three — our final instalment of this series — we’ve focused on Cape Breton and the highlands region. Parts one and two can be found here and here, respectively.
1. Keppoch Mountain: A popular spot for mountain bikers, Keppoch Mountain’s trail system is also one Nova Scotia’s finest for hiking and snowshoeing. Not far from Antigonish, the area is an outdoor haven with 29 multi-use trails that stretch over 300 acres. For those who don’t have their own, snowshoes available on site for rent.
2. Fitzpatrick Mountain: Part of the Cape to Cape trail system, Fitzpatrick Mountain’s main, eight-kilometre trail is surrounded by beautiful woods, with babbling brooks trickling through the trees. The trailhead can be found behind the tennis courts in Scotsburn, directly beside the community baseball field. Snowshoers can expect a challenge when tackling this trail, as it meanders over terrain nearing 300 metres above sea-level.
3. Baille Ard Nature Trails: When strolling through the Acadian forests that encompass the Baille Ard Nature Trails, it’s hard to believe you’re just ten minutes from downtown Sydney. As fresh snow crunches under your feet, and a winter breeze rolls through the trees, the chances are you’ll feel more in the middle of the wilderness than anything. This trail system can be explored in a number of ways, as different trails wind their way through the area. And snowshoes can be rented at the Cape Breton Regional Municipality Recreation Office.
4. Skyline Trail: There’s something special about enjoying a classic trail under the fresh coat of a new season. The Skyline Trail might just be the poster-child for hiking in Nova Scotia, its views casted over the rugged coastlines of Cape Breton Island. But these views can also be enjoyed during winter, when snow covers the trees and cliffs that make Cape Breton one of the province’s most popular destinations.
5. Cabot Shores: Cabot Shores is a dazzling escape into the heart of Cape Breton’s wilderness. So when the heavy snows of winter fall, it’s hard to find a better place. This rural resort is built on 55 acres of land, offering dramatic views of the island’s scenery, which includes frigid mountain tops and frozen waterfalls.
*Note: While snowshoeing, please be respectful and mindful of other trail users. You may notice trails that are not multi-purposed, and specifically groomed for cross country skiing. In this instance, we ask you to not damage the hard work that goes into grooming and enjoy responsibly.
**Cover photo by Hilary Hendsbee.