There is, without a doubt, a reason that the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton National Park is considered the go to trail when visitors have a limited amount of time to experience the park. Sure, choosing a favorite trail is sortof like choosing your favorite child. They’re all wonderful in their own way and picking just one doesn’t really make a ton of sense. Still, the Skyline Trail generally gets quite high marks and of the trails we hiked it is definitely my favorite.
The Skyline Trail is a rather easy hike across mostly level ground on well groomed gravel trails and boardwalks. The round trip from the parking lot takes 2-3 hours to do the loop, depending on how often you stop to take photos and admire the scenery. Needless to say, our version was a bit on the longer side thanks to my stopping all too often.
At the end of the trail the boardwalk descends out to a point from which the views are simply unbelievable. Full panoramas of the ocean in front and the mountains behind, The boardwalk also serves to protect the area as it is a quite delicate ecosystem that experienced significant erosion prior to the construction of the pathway. And the benches provide great spots to rest, relax and picnic if you’ve remembered to bring food with you (ours was fried chicken and it was delicious!).
There is also an "advanced" version of the trail where part of the loop is less well groomed and less level. No gravel or boardwalks in this area but it is still quite a reasonable track and not particularly strenuous. It also adds a different set of flora and difference vistas to the hike and I highly recommend it.
Oh, and bring your windbreaker. The point juts out into the water in an area where the trade winds meet each other, creating an area where the breeze is more like a gale. You can see this in some of the segments of the video.
Words don’t really do justice to the beauty that is the Skyline Trail. Even the photos and video only show a small chunk of just how beautiful the area is. It certainly isn’t just this one hike that makes the Cabot Trail area a UNESCO World Heritage Site (my 46th visited!) but it doesn’t hurt the cause either.
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