The Cape Smokey trail will treat you to fantastic hiking with breathtaking views of the Atlantic ocean
coastline as well as South Bay and North Bay Ingonish and the Middle Head
Peninsula. Throw in the Cape Breton Highlands and St. Paul's Island to the north.
This is a gem of a trail.
Directions: This trail starts on Cape Smokey Mountain. You will find it on the Cabot Trail just before you enter the Cape Breton Highlands National park in Ingonish. This is on the north eastern side of Cape Breton Island. Cape Smokey is about 1 hour from Baddeck.
You'll see the entrance to the Cape Smokey
Provincial park at the top of the mountain. There are signs for the hiking trail near the parking lot.
GPS at trailhead: N 46o 35" 36.2' W 60o 22" 50.0'
Distance: 11 km (6.2 mi) return
Elevation: You are already on the mountain when you start this trail. However, there are a couple of ups and downs as you hike. Nothing too strenuous.
Time: 3.5 - 4 hours
Level of Difficulty: moderate
Food/Water: Water is always necessary. Lights snacks are also a good idea.
Clothes/Accessories: I suggest long pants on this hike. It can be overgrown in spots which makes bare legs very uncomfortable. Sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots; insect repellent; binoculars and a camera.
Facilities: There are great picnic facilities with gorgeous views of the ocean and coastline at the trailhead. Pit toilets are also at the trailhead.
You are on a mountain on the coastline during this hike but believe it or not most of the hike is actually in the woods. Even so, you'll be treated to several look-offs where you'll have some breathtaking views of the open ocean and the coastline to the south.
It was the spring the last time that I did this trail and there were lots of fallen trees so this made the trail difficult. There are also numerous changes in elevation so you'll be continually going up and down.
You'll return to the trailhead on the same trail so you'll experience these changes in elevation in both directions. While the changes in elevation are not huge, they are consistent throughout the length of the trail.
You might notice that this view of the coastline to the south has a bluish colour. I am not quite sure why but this makes it appear quite mystic. There also seemed to be a bit of fog even though the sun was shining when I did the hike. This mountain can become very foggy very quickly so maybe it is just always present.
You'll hike for quite a while before you have any views to the north. But the wait will be well worth it. The view of the Ingonish coastline and the Middle Head Peninsula once you arrive at Stanley Point is gorgeous.
You'll see Ingonish beach, Freshwater Lake, South Bay and North Bay Ingonish, Ingonish Island and, of course, the Cape Breton highlands.
Middle Head actually separates Ingonish Bay into North and South. A beautiful area. You should be able to see the Keltic Lodge on Middle Head. You'll also see parts of the Highlands Links golf course which is located just before the Keltic Lodge.
Hopefully you'll be able to hike the Cape Smokey trail on a sunny day so you can can see far to the north and perhaps see St. Paul's Island. St. Paul's Island is the most northern part of Cape Breton Island.
You'll return to the trailhead on the same trail so be ready for the elevation changes.
This trail is located in the heart of the Ingonish area which is located on the Cabot Trail. This northern part of the Cabot Trail is in the Cape Breton Highlands National park. This is a fantastic spot for spending some vacation time.
Aside from the Cape Smokey trail, there are numerous hiking trails in this area. Check out my Nova Scotia hiking page and look at the trails under the Cabot Trail and Northern Cape Breton.
The Visitor Information Centre (VIC) for the park is located in Ingonish and they will be able to let you know of any current activities happening during your visit.
There are also great accommodation options in this area. I use Trip Advisor when looking for a place to stay. Always helpful with lots of customer comments.
Check Trip Advisor for restaurants too. Very usefull!
Do you have a great story about it? Please share it with us!