When you arrive on Cape Breton Island via the Canso Causeway there are actually 4 ways to get to the Cabot Trail.
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Options 1 & 2 will take you around the trail is a clockwise route. Options 3 & 4 are counter clockwise. Which one is better is really a matter of taste! I prefer counter clockwise as I love driving along the western coast of Cape Breton. It is simply breathtaking!!
The first option is via Route 19, otherwise known as the Ceilidh Trail. You will see the sign as soon as you arrive on the island and it will take you along the west side of the island. This is a beautiful drive along the coast. Check out my page on the Ceilidh Trail for more details. You will meet the Cabot Trail at Margaree Harbour if you take this route.
The second option is to continue on the Trans Canada highway (#105) along the shores of the Bras d’Or Lake. You will see the Red Barn Restaurant & Gift Shop in Nyanza which is about 75km from the Canso Causeway. It will be exit 7 on the highway, turn left and you will be on the Cabot Trail. This route will take you through the Margaree area.
The 3rd option is to continue toward Baddeck (exits #8 & 9). Baddeck is a full service resort town on the shore of the Bras d’Or Lakes. It is famous for its boating and sailing and also for being the summer home of Alexander Graham Bell and the home of the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.
After leaving Baddeck you can continue on highway 105 east for about 20km. You will a sign for the Cabot Trail and the Gaelic College. Turn left towards St. Ann’s and you’ll be on the Cabot Trail. You will actually be in the area known as the St. Ann’s Loop. This area is filled with artisans and shops.
The 4th and final option is to continue on highway 105 east past the St. Ann’s exit until you reach the exit for Englishtown. Turn left towards Englishtown. About 10 minutes down the road you will see a sign for the Englishtown ferry.
A short ferry ride will take you across St. Ann’s Bay and then you’ll be on the Cabot Trail. This is a beautiful area. Look north along the coast, you can see Cape Smokey on a clear day!
All of these options are good ones and the scenery is breathtaking no matter which one you take. Since the Cabot Trail is a loop you will get to see most of the scenery no matter which option you choose.