Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Part 1: The Western Coast

My first and second days in Cape Breton Highlands National Park I stopped often at lookoffs, beaches, and short trails as I made my way up the western coast of the park from Cheticamp to Pleasant Cove. I started with views of the lower mountains and Pillar Rock before the Cabot Trail climbed into the higher mountains and the lookoffs became vistas of dramatic drop offs to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and expanses of the highlands.

Grande Falaise, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Grande Falaise, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Overlook from Cabot Trail onto Gulf of St. Lawrence, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Overlook from Cabot Trail onto Gulf of St. Lawrence, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Pillar Rock, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Pillar Rock, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Rocky beach near Pillar Rock, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Rocky beach near Pillar Rock, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Lake near Pillar Rock, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Lake near Pillar Rock, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Another view of the lake near Pillar Rock, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Another view of the lake near Pillar Rock, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Looking down on the Gulf of St. Lawrence from an overlook on the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Looking down on the Gulf of St. Lawrence from an overlook on the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Dinner views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Dinner views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Mountains along the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Mountains along the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Fishing Cove lookoff, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Fishing Cove lookoff, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Fishing Cove lookoff, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Fishing Cove lookoff, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

On my second day I stopped halfway up and did the short French Mountain Bog Trail, a fen which features tufted rushes and cotton grass along with dwarf black spruce and eastern larch that are over a hundred years old. I can’t really pinpoint what I enjoy so much about bogs and fens; I think the carpeting of moss and the bunches of grass are really neat and I love the dwarf trees as well as the pitcher plants (when they’re out), but perhaps its the delicate balance of the ecosystem I find most intriguing. I also keep hoping to see moose though that hasn’t happened yet. In any case, I enjoyed this little bog trail.

French Mountain Bog Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

French Mountain Bog Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

French Mountain Bog Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

French Mountain Bog Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

No. 1 – The Larch... The Larch (a dwarf version), French Mountain Bog Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

No. 1 – The Larch… The Larch (a dwarf version), French Mountain Bog Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Right before the Cabot Trail descends from the plateau and exits the park there are fantastic lookoffs into the expansive MacKenzie River Valley. Even though I was here about a week before peak leaf color the valleys were truly a sight to see. Unfortunately for you all, I wasn’t able to capture their majesty partially due to the fact that I always seemed to be taking photos into the sun which washed out what colors were present. So keep in mind that the reality of the MacKenzie Mountains were way more impressive than my photos.

The Highland Plateau and the MacKenzie River Valley, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

The Highland Plateau and the MacKenzie River Valley, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

The Highland Plateau and the MacKenzie River Valley, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

The Highland Plateau and the MacKenzie River Valley, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Overlooking Pleasant Cove, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Overlooking Pleasant Cove, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

MacKenzie River, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

MacKenzie River, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

MacKenzie River, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

MacKenzie River, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada