The centerpiece of our stay in Cape Breton was our hike of Franey Mountain, an 1,100-foot ascent that took us between 3 and 4 total hours up and down. It could have been done more quickly but we took our time, soaking in and photographing the beautiful scenery of the Cape Breton Highlands along the way (as well as a pretty bird that I believe was a ruffed grouse).
There are two trails that lead to the top. The one we chose for the climb turned out to be the better one in terms of the views–we chose the other trail for the hike back down, which was much less challenging but also much less interesting from a scenery perspective. I don’t remember which was which, but if you’re looking at a map, the straighter looking trail is probably the less interesting one. Either way, you are likely to take both: one on the way up and the other on the way down.
Overall, it’s a beautiful hike. Climbers who reach the peak are rewarded with spectacular views of lush green mountains along a picturesque coast, as well as the opportunity to sign the hiker’s guest book attached to an Adirondack chair at the top. If you find yourself in Cape Breton, Franey Mountain is definitely worth a visit.
This is a collection of photos taken over three days during my drive along the majestic Cabot Trail in Cape Breton—considered one of the most scenic drives in the world—and for good reason. The northern portion in particular reminded me of the Scottish Highlands, which makes sense given that geological evidence suggests at least part of the island was joined with Scotland millions of years ago. This is one road trip you definitely want to add to your bucket list.
During the Nova Scotia leg of our Canada road trip, we spent three nights at a cute little cabin in northern Cape Breton. The cabin was owned by people from Holland, and at their Dancing Moose Cafe they make this delicious Dutch dish called pannekoeken, which is basically like a thin pancake or crepe made however you want it. The first two mornings I got mine with bacon (in my pre-vegetarian days) and onions baked in, and a fried egg on top. The third morning I got one with apple and cinnamon. If you find yourself in northern Cape Breton, look up the Dancing Moose Cafe–you won’t regret it.
The cabin is a nice place to stay as well, right on the beach, where we saw dozens of seals floating off the shore, one of which is featured in the photos below.
Click on any photo to open up a gallery.
View from our cabin property.
View from our cabin property.
The beach in front of our cabin: long exposure shot.
The beach in front of our cabin.
The beach in front of our cabin.
Seal viewed from the beach in front of our cabin.
The beach in front of our cabin.
Rainbow in the clouds viewed from the beach in front of our cabin.
The beach in front of our cabin.
Looking toward the Dancing Moose cafe (where our landlord made delicious breakfast).
Chickens owned by our landlord–fresh eggs for breakfast!
I don’t often get to take long exposure shots while on vacation because it involves lugging around a tripod, but this beach was located just outside my cabin on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada, so it was a perfect opportunity to set up the tripod and try out the neutral density filter I bought last year. These types of filters enable you to take long exposures during the day without blowing the highlights. I’m still getting the hang of it, but I like the effect here of smoothing the ocean and blurring the clouds while keeping the rocks in focus, almost like a painting.
The night skies over the Canadian maritime provinces are spectacular, particularly in the remote areas where these two photos were shot–the skies are packed with far more stars than most of us are used to seeing on a regular basis. Although my astrophotography remains a work in progress, I feel like these are definitely an improvement over some of my earlier efforts.
The first photo was taken outside of the inn where I stayed on Prince Edward Island. In setting the building against the night sky I tried to capture the remoteness of the inn, which is located by itself out on a cliff overlooking the sea. I always feel weird going outside for night photography, setting up the tripod and everything while people are wondering what I’m doing out there. The women in one of the downstairs rooms kept looking out the window–I think they thought I was up to something nefarious. 🙂
The second photo of the Milky Way was taken outside my cabin on Cape Breton Island.
Here is a compilation of panoramas and HDR photos taken during my two-week road trip through the Canadian Maritime Provinces in late August/early September, 2016.
All of the following photos are panoramas except where HDR appears in the description.
Prince Edward Island
We only allotted two days for Prince Edward Island but it ended up being one of our favorite legs of the trip. We stayed on the less-touristy northeast side of the island at an inn on a cliff overlooking the sea. The view from our room was spectacular. The entire stay was relaxing and serene. I only wish we could have spent more time here.
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
Cape Breton is an island at the northeastern tip of Nova Scotia. It is a must-visit if you’re in the area. The Cabot Trail, which encircles the majority of the island, is a drive of breathtaking beauty. The highlands, in particular, are reminiscent of Scotland. In all, we spent four days here but with all of the hiking and sightseeing available, you could easily stay a week or two.
The New Brunswick area has much to offer, including Fundy National Park, which we barely had time to explore outside of one early evening hike. We spent most of our two days in this province at Cape Enrage and the Hopewell rocks–where you can walk the beach at low tide and kayak around the same rocks at high tide. There are no high-tide photos in this collection, but I did take some and will share them at a later date.
I didn’t take many panoramas during my stay on the main island of Nova Scotia, so there isn’t much represented here. The highlights from this leg of the trip included a two-night stay in the charming capital city of Halifax and a stop in the lovely town of Lunenberg, where we also visited The Ovens National Park. Nova Scotia has so much more worth seeing but a lot of our time on the island was spent driving to and from Cape Breton.
Overall, it was a great trip that gave us a taste of everything the Canadian Maritimes have to offer, though we could easily have spent a week or more at any one of the four primary regions we visited. We fell so much in love with the area, in fact, that we are giving serious thought to exploring the possibility of moving there.
When hiking to the top of Franey Mountain in the Cape Breton Highlands, you will encounter this picturesque lookout about 1/3 of the way up (or 2/3 of the way down, depending on which of the two trails you chose to go up). It’s a beautiful hike, especially as you get closer to the top, where you are rewarded with spectacular views of the mountains and coast. The 1,100-foot ascent is not too challenging (especially if an out-of-shape schlub like me can make it to the top)–I think it took us between 2 1/2 and 3 hours to get to the top, though it can be done more quickly if you’re in better shape and not stopping for photos. Going down was much faster as we took the second trail down, which was much less interesting from a scenery perspective, and also less challenging.
I made one alteration to this photo–I used the content-aware touchup tool in Camera Raw to remove my hiking pole that was leaning against the rock–it turned out really well, not even noticeable. Bonus points if you can tell me where the pole was. 🙂
This was taken along the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Canada, not too far from the cabin where we stayed this past September. In the distance to the left of the shack, if you squint you can make out the Atlantic Ocean.
Even though it wasn’t technically a lookout and there was no convenient place to park, we knew we had to stop when we drove past this picturesque scene. You can see why Cape Breton draws so many comparisons to Scotland–the landscape is simply breathtaking. I’m ready to move there.
Hello, readers and fellow bloggers, I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus, partly because I embarked on a two-week, late-summer road trip through the Canadian Maritime Provinces. Since then, I have been busy culling and processing all of the photos from the trip (when I can find the time, that is), but hopefully I’ll get back to regular posting soon.
In the meantime, I have compiled all of the video I shot during my trip into the movie below. The Braveheart score seemed appropriate given the Scottish feel of Cape Breton.
My late summer Canada road trip is coming together. I’ve booked all of the places we’ll be staying during our two-weeks in the Maritime Provinces and plotted out the counter-clockwise route we’ll be taking, a rough map of which you can see here:
The above route will involve about 2,100 miles of driving (not counting day trips and sightseeing detours) and 44 hours on the road (counting time spent on ferries), so my new RAV4 hybrid will be getting quite a workout!
Here is our rough itinerary:
Day 1: Driving up to southern Maine and crashing overnight at my sister-in-law’s house.
Days 2-3: Bay of Fundy
We will be staying in a cottage overlooking the Bay of Fundy, first stopping in the seaside town of Saint Andrews for linner (i.e., in between lunch/dinner). During our stay the plan is to visit the Hopewell Rocks at both low and high tide (the Bay of Fundy has the highest tidal range in the world), Cape Enrage, and Fundy National Park, as well as the Fundy Trail and sea caves in Saint Martins. A visit to Saint John is also a possibility, though not as high on the list.
Days 4-5: Prince Edward Island
Our next stop will be Prince Edward Island, famous for its rolling hills, red soil, and as the setting of the novel Anne of Green Gables. We don’t have any specific plans for our two days here; I figure it’s a good time to recharge after all of the driving and activities of the first three days, so we may just relax on the beaches and take some lazy drives around the coast. We will be staying at a B&B on the northeastern coast, an area that is supposed to be less touristy.
Day 6: Cape Breton and the Ceilidh Trail
This will mostly be a travel day as we hop on the ferry from Prince Edward Island to Nova Scotia and then make our way up to Cape Breton. Along the way we may stop in New Glasgow for lunch before crossing into Cape Breton and taking the scenic Ceilidh Trail along the coast all the way up to our stop for the night near the highlands: The Glenora Inn and Distillery, known for its whisky, where we’ll have dinner before settling in for the night in a private chalet nestled in the hills above the distillery.
Days 7-9: Cabot Trail and Highlands National Park
This is the main attraction of the trip for us, a chance to meander through a landscape similar to what you might see in Scotland. We’ll begin on Day 7 with a drive along the Cabot Trail, famous for its picturesque beauty. Along the way we will stop and hike the Skyline Trail before continuing on to our destination for the next three nights: a private cabin overlooking the ocean near Ingonish. On Day 8 we will do more hiking in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, highlighted by an ascent of Franey Mountain. Finally, Day 9 will see us heading up to the Meat Cove area at the northernmost tip of the island for a whale watching cruise on a converted fishing boat.
Days 10-11: Halifax
On Day 10 we will begin the long drive from Cape Breton all the way to Halifax in Nova Scotia, where we will be staying in a B&B not far from the waterfront. The first night will likely be a late arrival, so we’ll probably just walk along the boardwalk and get something to eat. On the second day, we can wander around the city (possibly visiting the Citadel at the top of the hill) or, if we’re feeling up to it, take a 90-minute drive north to hike out to Cape Split, a hike that comes highly recommended due to the spectacular view at the end of the trail.
Days 12-13: Yarmouth and the Lighthouse Trail
After leaving Halifax we will embark on a daylong drive to Yarmouth while following as much of the scenic coastal Lighthouse Trail as possible (we won’t have time to do the entire route), taking us through towns like Peggy’s Cove, Mahone Bay, and Lunenberg, the latter of which might be a good place to stop for lunch. Other possible stops include The Ovens (to do some sea cave spelunking) and the Kejimkujik National Park Seaside Adjunct. Our late arrival in Yarmouth will leave us one free day to explore the town (and scratch the wife’s antiquing itch).
Days 14-15: The Long Journey Home
We’ll be waking up early in the morning in Yarmouth to catch the ferry to Portland, Maine for what is supposed to be a 5.5-hour journey across the Atlantic. The ferry is not cheap–in fact I believe it may have been the most expensive single booking of our entire trip, more so than any of the lodging. Anyway, after departing the ferry we will once again crash at my sister-in-law’s house in southern coastal Maine before beginning the final leg of our journey back home to New Jersey.
I can’t wait to get underway; I’ve always wanted to do a big road trip, and a two-week jaunt through the Maritimes should be epic, though we’ll still only scratch the surface of everything the region has to offer. The rest, alas, will have to wait until next time.