The Coxheath Hills is a super place to spend some time in the outdoors for a leisurely stroll in the fresh air or for a challenging hike. It has wonderful views of Blackettes Lake and the Sydney area as well as waterfalls and lots of wildlife. The trail system is certainly top notch!
I was drawn here by way of the Celtic Colours International Festival. This festival is held every October on Cape Breton Island. One of the special things about Celtic Colours is the fantastic array of activities that are community-organized.
A couple of years ago I heard about the hike in the Coxheath Hills and the musicians that were playing along the trail. It had become a very popular activity for the festival. So I knew I had to check it out! I was not disappointed! It was a gorgeous fall day.
The hike and the music were wonderful. There were young musicians all along the trail. You can see them in my videos at the bottom of this page.
There were fiddlers, a harp, a piper, a drum and a penny whistle.
An extra special treat was a young piper who was set-up to welcome everyone as they arrived.
He was awesome!
Directions: The Coxheath Hills are located at 1330 Coxheath Road in Blackettes Lake on Cape Breton Island. Take exit 5A off of highway 125 near Sydney River. Drive south on Coxheath Road for about 6km (3.75mi) to Blackettes Lake Road. Turn right into the parking lot between Knox United Church and the community hall. You'll see signs for the trails at the edge of the forest.
GPS at trailhead: N 46o 42" 35.3' W60o 17" 55.0'
Distance: The trail system consists of 5 trail loops for a total of 10 km (6.4mi). The map below shows the layout. As you can see loops can be combined to make a longer distance.
Time: Depends on the trail but plan to spend at least 1.5 hours.
Level of Difficulty: Easy to moderate to difficult depending on the trail; the 'Main Trail' starts with a very steep section.
Food/Water: Water is always necessary. Light snacks are also a good idea.
Clothes/Accessories: A sweater or light jacket as it can be very windy once you reach the top; hiking boots; walking pole; insect repellent; binoculars and a camera.
Facilities: Pit toilets at Pittman Lodge, benches, picnic table. The Pittman Lodge can be reserved for overnight trips. Call 1-902-539-7254.
We took the ‘Main Trail’ which starts directly behind the community hall. The start of the trail is quite steep so be prepared. I must admit that it caught me by surprise! They even have a rope system installed around some trees to help folks if needed.
The trail is wide and very well-maintained. The surrounding forest was quite colorful when I was there in the fall. As you climb you start to see views of the Coxheath hills and Sydney in the distance. Also, start to listen for the waterfalls. A perfect spot to stop for little rest.
You'll be able to see and hear the falls in the 'Drummer' video I have included at the end of this page.
A couple of look-offs help us to see the great views as we climb more. The ‘Main Trail’ ends at a cabin called Pittman Lodge. A great spot to host a little storytelling and ceilidh to celebrate Celtic Colours.
guide, Brian, and I continued on the ‘Northern Loop’ after our little visit at
the cabin. This is a great loop to
extend your hike. It took us about 45
minutes. The ‘Pinnacle Look-Off’ is a
must when doing the Northern Loop.
Probably the best look-off in the trail system.
The Coxheath Hills Wilderness Recreation Association, who built and maintain these trails, recently acquired the community hall at the trailhead. They plan to offer lunch and hike events in the near future. Follow me on my facebook page for updates.
The Association is to be congratulated on
this wonderful trail system. It is not
far from the Sydney area so the local folks really love it.
You are about 34km (30 minutes) from the Cape Breton Miner's Museum in Glace Bay. A great place to visit and tour an actual tour mine. The Fortress of Louisbourg is about 53km (45 minutes) from this area. This is fantastic activity while on vacation in Cape Breton.
If you love hiking then be sure to check out the Louisbourg Lighthouse Trail in Louisbourg. This is the site of the first lighthouse in Canada and is an awesome coastal hike.
The closest Visitor Information Centre (VIC) in on the Sydney waterfront located at 71 Esplanade in Sydney. They are open from June to mid-October. They will be able to let you know of any activities happening during your visit.
Do you have a great story about it? Please share it with us!