Have you heard of Usige Ban Falls? It is a wonderful place for a family hike and picnic. The woods will treat you to an enchanting display of Cape Breton nature.
Usige Ban is a Gaelic name meaning ‘White Water’ and we were not left disappointed as a gushing 15-m (50-ft) waterfall was awaiting us.
This trail is part of a provincial park so it is very well maintained with picnic and toilet facilities at the trail head, a well-detailed trail map as well as guardrails, wooden footbridges and benches along the trail.
Before you go
Directions: Take Exit 9 off the Trans Canada Highway 105 near Baddeck; you may continue straight or take the first right; either way you will see signs indicating the provincial park which is about 15 kilometres from the highway. The civic address of the park is 715 North Branch Road, Baddeck Forks.
Distance: Each trail is approximately 3.5 kilometres.
Time: Approximately 90 minutes return for the Falls Trail and 1 hour for the River Trail. It should take no more than 2 1/2 hours to complete both trails. It can be longer depending on how long you stay to admire the falls and river.
Level of Difficulty: Easy to moderate; mostly level terrain with large rocks to traverse at the falls; suitable for children (although a wagon or stroller may be useful for the return trip) and for older adults who do not have trouble walking.
What to bring: Water is always needed on any type of hike; a sweater or light jacket as it can be cool at the foot of the falls; sturdy walking shoes, sneakers or hiking boots; insect repellent may be needed depending on the time of year.
When to go: Spring, summer and fall; however, be careful in early spring due to the winter runoff from the highlands.
Special Notes: There are pit toilets and picnic facilities at the trailhead. Benches are along the trail.
Let's get hiking
Usige Ban Falls is one of the most relaxing hikes I have done in Cape Breton and the best part is that almost any member of the family can do it.
There are actually 2 trails and I strongly recommend that you do both. However, you may opt for the Falls Trail along Falls Brook (which is more like a river in the spring) which will guide you directly to the waterfalls.
The second trail called the River Trail takes you along the North Branch Baddeck River and then turns inland where you eventually meet the Falls Trail. Turn right and the trail will take you to the falls.
The trail is mostly level with some moderate uphill climbs. Don’t let the word ‘uphill’ scare you as anyone who does not have trouble walking can easily manage this wonderful walking excursion. There are large rocks at the falls which you'll need to traverse to get closer to the falls.
You will know you are close to the falls when you see the bridge. Cross the bridge and you'll hear and start to see the falls. A gorgeous area. Also a super place for that picnic!
You are in Cape Breton so there is lots to see and do. The falls are only about 20 minutes from the village of Baddeck. Baddeck sits along the shores of the Bras d'Or lake and is on the famous Cabot Trail.
A great spot to use as your home base for your vacation. I strongly recommend that you visit the Alexander Graham Bell Museum during your visit to Baddeck.
I have a great e-book called 44 Awesome Things to see on the Cabot Trail (+ 17 tips for along the way) that might interest you. This book is an awesome reference for touring the Cabot Trail. I include all of my favorite spots plus much more!
There are a wide variety of accommodations in Baddeck and the surrounding areas. From the luxurious to mid-range hotels to campgrounds.
I stayed at the Telegraph House a couple of years when I was starting a cycling tour of the Cabot Trail and I loved it. Apparently, Alexander Graham Bell himself stayed here.
Check here for the best accommodations in Baddeck.
There are also a wide range of restaurants in the village. Once again, it depends on your tastes and budget. The Bell Buoy, Telegraph House and McCurdy's are among the higher end restaurants.
But there are also others that are more mid-range: the Yellow Cello, Lakeside Cafe, Tom's Pizza and the High Wheeler Cafe. If you really want to enjoy some fresh seafood then I suggest Baddeck Lobster Suppers.
Check out Trip Advisor to find the best Baddeck restaurants!
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