– North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Halifax, Nova Scotia –

Today’s run was only so-so. We’re pretty tired today anyway, but still, the only place to really run in North Sydney is either on a track, or on the sidewalk. In the end, we went with the sidewalk, which was unfortunate since it was trash day today. We parked in a park that had “no dogs” signs everywhere, and we saw no less than three people take their dogs into that park (before 6:30am, remember), to let their dogs go potty. It was a little funny. We just walked ours out on the road.

Our hotel breakfast this morning was interesting. We had the regular things available, like hard-boiled eggs, cereal, juice, and oatmeal, but we also had fried potato and green onion patties, eggrolls, and non-breakfast sausages (not that we ate those). An Asian family owns the motel, and we could hear them cooking back in the kitchen while we ate. I like savory foods for breakfast, and the little potato things were amazing.

Lookout on the Cabot Trail, Cape Smokey Provincial Park

Most of the interesting things for today were over in Cape Breton Highlands Naitonal Park, and on a famous drive around it called The Cabot Trail. It was on a little cape separate from Sydney, so this morning we had to cross a little inlet to get over to that section of coast.

The Cabot Trail began as soon as we crossed the water, and the whole thing is covered in touristy little shops and restaurants. The speed limit is very slow, and what I assume are locals will zoom past two or three cars in a row on a curve to get around the tourists. It’s a little insane.

One of our first stops was in Cape Smokey Provincial Park, which is right on the water. It’s also just outside the park. We thought it might have a nice view, and we were right. Everyone got out to look around, and Mark, Ripley and I walked out to the fence by the cliff to take some photos down the coast. This coast is covered in trees. It’s very pretty.

Beach in Cape Breton Highlands National Park

From there, the Cabot Trail made its first foray into the national park. The road occasionally dips out of the park, then back in. We stopped at the visitor center there to see where we should stop. The park ranger was full of suggestions, so we left with a map of the park, marked up withpoints of particular interest.

The turn right after the visitor center led back to one of the really nice beaches in the park, so we walked down so Mark could get some sand, and we could all get some photos. Ripley had a really good time, even if I wouldn’t let her on the sand. As soon as I did, she would’ve carried half the beach with her back into the car. I’ve been down that particular road before.

Lighthouse in Neil’s Harbour

I was surprised to see people in the water. It seems so cold. I guess you get tougher when you live in a colder place like this. I’m a big fan of the nice, bath-water warm Gulf of Mexico. Even Hawaii was a little cold for me.

We followed along the trail through the park, pulling off at various lookouts. One of the best is Lakies Head, which is a bit of a hilarious name.

On the advice of the ranger, we actually turned off of the Cabot Trail at Neil’s Harbor, where another road went down by the water. The ranger said the view was much nicer down there, and it wasn’t as nice up on the main road in that area. It seemed to work out in our favor.


We found a little lighthouse in Neil’s Harbor that doubled as an ice cream shop. It was tiny and adorable. I saw many people out looking around at the lighthouse and the cliff it sat on, but no one going into the ice cream shop. Maybe it was still a little early yet. It was open, at least.

Around 1:30, we stopped for a late lunch at a little picnic area in the park. This was the first time on this trip that we’ve been able to have an actual picnic, rather than eating our “picnic” in the car. Dad made tuna salad, Mark and I had egg salad, and Mom had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Not long after we’d started eating, a bus arrived and took all of the tables, and we were very glad we hadn’t arrived after them.

Our first actual picnic

Just before we were ready to leave, a park ranger was going around checking everyone’s park passes. It’s the first time in any of Canada’s parks I’ve seen someone checking them. I wonder if anyone there was missing theirs.

We also stopped at the “bog” trail, which the park ranger mentioned was a great spot to see Moose. I was expecting it to be an overlook at a pond area where you might see moose eating, but the boardwalk literally took you through the ponds. I wouldn’t want to see a moose that close at all. On top of that, assuming it would be an overlook, we brought the dogs, and Ripley virtually guaranteed that any moose that might’ve been nearby would hear us coming. Luckily, we didn’t see any moose, and the walk was unveventful.

On the western coast of the cape, the road turns mountainous, and it is perhaps the best section of the park. You can look out from several stops along the way and see the whole road winding along the mountains leading out of the park. It’s gorgeous. I can see why all of the maps and guides suggest you enter from that side of the park.

Fixing Ripley’s harness on the “bog” trail

Our final stop in the park was at the other visitor center on the western side. Mark took a picture of me in one of those signs you put your face in. They are mostly for kids, and I had to bend way down to get in it, but that didn’t stop us. I make a good tugboat. I think that might be the weirdest one of those I’ve seen. Who wants their face on a tugboat? Tugboats don’t have faces.

That was literally the last picture we took for the day, if you can believe it. I don’t know what happened. To be fair, it was pretty late. We didn’t make it out of the park until around 4pm, and it was still several hours to Halifax.

The drive was mostly uneventful, though we didn’t have our maps downloaded at first and there was some uncertainty about good routes to take.

Mountains in Cape Breton Highlands

For dinner, we ended up having A&W Canada again. I guess I’m the only one burning out on burgers, and I haven’t eaten as many as everyone else has. All three of the other people in the car swear up and down that you can’t burn out on burgers. I’m not sure I believe them. Regardless, the Beyond Meat burger is still a very nice veggie burger.

We made it to our hotel rather late, but got lucky and found that we could back up to a little patio door (in addition to the door in the main hall) to unload our stuff into our room. The extra door was pretty cool.

See the Cabot Trail in the distance?

Tomorrow we should have a nice hotel breakfast, and we have time to run. We’re doing the southern end of Nova Scotia, starting with Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, which isn’t too far from out hotel in Halifax. It should be a pretty busy day.

– Trip Total : ??? miles

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