The Ceilidh Coastal trail is the first part of the 92-kilometer (58 miles) Celtic Shores Coastal trail on the west coast of Cape Breton Island. You will get to enjoy beautiful views of St. George’s Bay and the Strait of Canso.
The trail starts at the Canso Canal and continues for 22 kilometers (12.5 miles) to Long Point. Check this map of the Ceilidh Trail for more details. The Province of Nova Scotia has graciously allowed me to use the maps on their Nova Scotia Trails page, however, please read their disclaimer.
This first section is also known as Ghost Beach and offers some of the best scenic coastal views on the entire 92-km trail.
To find the trailhead for the Ceilidh Coastal Trail turn left as soon as you cross the bridge on the Canso Causeway as you are entering Cape Breton. You'll see the Coast Guard buildings to the left. The parking area is quite large and you'll see the Trans Canada Trail kiosk right away.
There are also informational panels about the construction of the Canso Causeway. The causeway opened in 1955 amid much fanfare. Prior to this, there was a small ferry service. The panels are interesting so have a little peak.
The trail starts beside the chain-link fence that you will see on your right as you are facing the Coast Guard buildings. Unfortunately, there aren't any signs directing you to the beginning of the trail. But it is not hard to find.
Just walk towards the fence and you'll see a wide trail to your right. Follow this and within 10 minutes you'll come to a view of the entrance to the canal and St. George's Bay. The trail will open up now!
Continue across the bridge. The views along here are gorgeous. But it can get quite windy and chilly so come prepared. Although this part of the Ceilidh Coastal trail is very scenic the trail itself is uneven and moderately difficult. It is impossible to get lost but the walking get can a little rough.
I was told that it is probably a bit difficult to cycle this first part. It is a challenge to keep the surface in good shape considering the wind and ocean spray in this area. If you do want to attempt to cycle this trail I suggest that you start at the next access point which is Troy Station.
To get to Troy Station get back on the road and follow the directions for Route 19 (you will drive to your left to follow this road). Troy is about 10 km down route 19.
All of this being said...being this close to the elements is what makes this is a great hike. Come prepared and you'll love it. The terrain might be rough in some spots so wearing hiking boots is probably a good idea.
This trail actually has several access points so you can really start anywhere you want.
Follow the Ceilidh Trail on Route 19 and you'll easily find them. Watch for the blue sign.
The access points are at Troy Station, Creignish, Craigmore Station, Christie's Look-off and Chisolm's Brook at Long Point. You can consult my map page for the Ceilidh Coastal trail. This should give you a good idea of where the access points are located.
I checked out the trail at Troy Station and Christie's Look-Off. This really is a world-class multi-purpose trail. It's well surfaced, mostly level with little elevation and easy to hike and bike. You have many great views of the coast and you are close to many communities.
The Troy Station is an excellent access point, especially if you want to bike. It has a very large parking area and you are directly on the coast.
I couldn't help but stop at Christie's Look-Off. You can't miss the sign but watch for it as you'll come across it quickly.
The view is awesome here. There are several informational panels about the area and there is easy access to the trail.
I actually met some locals when I was there and they were more than happy to give me some information on the area.
The trail is in great shape beyond the first part that I described above. It is a multi-purpose trail so be prepared to possibly share the trail with bikes and ATVs. I am sure it is great for snowmobiling in the winter.
Don't forget to come back here and tell me about it either as a story or a note on my contact page.
Next stop - the Judique Flyer trail which we meet at Long Point!
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