The Acadian trail is a challenging hike with a steady climb where you'll see panoramic views of the Cheticamp area, the Cape Breton Highlands and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. But every step will be worth it! You'll have a spectacular view that you won't get elsewhere.
Are you ready for a climb?
This trail is one of those hikes that you wonder why you would have wanted to do it! This feeling comes about just after you start the hike and you start to ascend and the ascent just seems to continue but then not long afterward you start to see the views.
The views of the highlands, Cheticamp Island and of the Cheticamp coastline. Then you realize, this is why I am doing this hike.
Before You Go...
Directions: Drive about 7.5 kilometres north of Cheticamp on the Cabot Trail. This will take you to the entrance of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. You can access the Acadian trail across from the Cheticamp Information Centre which you will find at the entrance to the park.
I actually had trouble finding the trailhead. I asked for directions in the information centre and they were very helpful.
The Acadian is trail #1 in the park. Remember you will need to pay a fee to enter the park. You can do this in the information centre.
GPS Coordinates for trailhead: Lat: 46.646863 Long: 60.950197 or Lat: 46.645107 Long: 60.947226
Distance: The trail is a 10 km (6.25 mi) loop. There are several trail maps along the route so you can see your location the trail.
Time: Approximately 3-4 hours.
Level of Difficulty: Only folks with at least an average fitness level should attempt this trail. It is quite long and the ascent is long and is steep at certain points. I would not bring children under the age of 15 on this hike.
Food/Water: Water is always necessary. Lights snacks are also a good idea. There are also several benches along the trail where you can stop for a break
Clothes/Accessories: A sweater or light jacket as it will be very windy once you reach the vantage point overlooking Cheticamp, the Cabot Trail and the Atlantic Ocean; sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots; a walking stick; insect repellent; binoculars and a camera.
Ok! Let's Get Hiking
One of the great things about the Acadian trail is that you actually start hiking immediately. You are in the woods on a trail right away and the trees are engulfing you.
It was a great feeling as soon as I started the hike.
It was my second time doing the Acadian trail and I knew that it was challenging. I was not disappointed. The good news is that there are benches along the way for a little rest here and there.
Not far into the hike you'll come across a junction. There will be a large panel with information about the trail and a map. This map clearly shows exactly where you are on the trail. Continue left on a clock-wise loop of the hike. The Acadian trail is in great condition and is actually an old cart trail. It is quite wide so 2 hikers can walk side by side.
Even though the Acadian trail was quite challenging I found it quite relaxing. I was alone on the trail so I was able to take my time and totally enjoy my surroundings. One of the first nice views that you will see is the Cheticamp River. There is just no way to get this type of a view of the river when you are beside it.
Not far from the junction you'll come across signs for an outhouse. Perhaps, important to know! You'll also start to see signs for look-offs. I checked out all of them and glad I did.
Keep climbing and the views will get nicer and nicer. It was misty and cloudy when I was there so I did not have the full sun or a bright blue sky for my pictures. I didn't mind. Remember you are on the coast and the weather can change quickly.
You'll get lots of views of the highlands, the Cheticamp area and the Cheticamp coastline. If you are lucky enough to get a clear day you might be able to see the steeple of St. Peter's Church. Look to the coast and you'll see a beautiful sandy beach. This is called Petit Etang.
At one point you'll get the impression that you have started your descent to finish the hike. Nope! Yes, you are descending but only to start to climb again. This is because there are several hilltops throughout the Acadian trail and you get to climb them all.
Not to worry, your descent with eventually start but not before you get an awesome view of the Cabot Trail and Grand Falaise. This is an impressive view.
As you make your descent you'll continue to have cover overhead by large lots of hardwoods. At one point I started to hear water. Chrystal clear water slowly flowing from the highlands. Roberts Brook is not far. You'll cross this brook several times with lots of chances for great pictures.
Your loop is complete when you exit the woods into the Cheticamp Campground. Remember that the Acadian trail is part of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The park and campground are very well maintained and a wonderful place to camp, especially with the kids.
Follow the directions for the Information Centre and you'll easily see the parking lot and your vehicle.
In the Area:
I would strongly encourage you to stay in the Cheticamp area for at least a few days. The camping at the Cheticamp Campground in the park is awesome. If it is full you can check out the camping on Cheticamp Island. It is called Plage St. Pierre and is right next to a beach.
There are also plenty of accommodations in the area from B&B to small motels to cottages. There are several great restaurants. Check out my Cheticamp page for more information.
There are also more hiking trails to do in the park in the Cheticamp area. I strongly recommend that you try the Skyline Trail. It is not to be missed!
Don't forget the whalewatching! There are choices for tours in Cheticamp, Pleasant Bay and Bay St. Lawrence.
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