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902-224-2306
Email
pc.cbinfo.pc@canada.ca
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Location

Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Date: May 20th 2023 until October 23rd 2023

The world-famous Cabot Trail weaves through 950 km2 (366 sq. mi.) of magnificent highlands and coastal wilderness in northern Cape Breton. The park offers 26 hiking trails (from easy strolls to challenging climbs), camping  for families and adventurers alike, world-class golf and cycling, incredible wildlife, relaxing beaches, breathtaking look-offs, and more. Bordered by the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean, you are never far from a delicious feast of lobster, fresh from the sea around you. 

A park pass is required for use of all services and facilities in the national park, including campgrounds, the Highlands Links Golf Course, and the Keltic Lodge at the Highlands. Revenues are used to maintain and improve park services. You can purchase a park pass at one of our roadside kiosks or visitor centres.

Visitor Centre locations 

West entrance (Chéticamp): 16 Visitor Centre Road, GPS coordinates N46 38.784 W60 57.029 

East entrance (Ingonish): 37637 Cabot Trail, GPS coordinates N46 38.450 W60 24.233 

Parks Canada’s knowledgeable staff will launch your adventure by providing an itinerary tailored to your needs and interests. Along with your park pass and map, get safety tips and informed suggestions on Parks Canada activities, guided experiences and places to discover.  If travelling with young adventurers, ask about Parks Canada Xplorers and Club Parka activities.

In Chéticamp, stay connected with free Wi-Fi and visit the nature bookstore to pick up field guides, local cultural history books, and gift items. Charge up at our electric vehicle charging stations.

In Ingonish, check out the interactive map to help you plan your visit and take a little something home from the official Parks Canada merchandise. 

Cape Breton Highlands National Park’s operating season is from mid-May to mid-October, with full services in July and August. The Cabot Trail is open year-round

For more information on the park’s fees and services, including seasonal passes, visit  http://parkscanada.gc.ca/capebreton

Eco-travellers delight

Craft a sustainable and eco-conscious adventure.

 

The natural landscape of the park is not only beautiful, but rare. Several dozen species of rare or threatened plants and animals can be found here, as well as old growth forests of international importance. Connect with these natural wonders on your visit and help protect the special ecology of this place. 

 

Electric vehicle charging stations located throughout the park offer a sustainable way to enjoy your dream road trip. You can find a list of charging stations and their locations here: https://plugshare.com

 

Reduce your carbon footprint by cycling around Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Be one with the mountains as you cycle through coastal and inland regions of the world renowned Cabot Trail. Bike to nearby beaches and hiking trails from your campsite at Broad Cove (Broad Cove Beach), Chéticamp (Salmon Pools), and Ingonish Beach (Freshwater Lake) campgrounds. Some of our trails such as Clyburn Valley  and Le vieux chemin du Cap-Rouge  are also great for cycling. To learn more about cycling in Cape Breton Highlands National Park visit our website. 

Parks Canada works to ensure the natural beauty and biodiversity of the park is preserved for future generations to enjoy. Salmon population restoration, boreal forest conservation and Skyline Trail headland restoration are a few projects Parks Canada is currently focusing on.

 

Journey through cultures

Along with rolling mountains, river canyons, waterfalls, and dramatic headlands, the landscape is also imprinted with rich and diverse cultures. 

 

Since time immemorial, L’nu, also known as the Mi’kmaq have called this place home. Learn about the legend of maple syrup at MacIntosh Brook trail, through interpretive panels dedicated to this story. During the peak season, a Mi’kmaw storyteller invites you to experience a deeper connection through authentic songs, games, and gatherings.

 

The rich traditions of Acadian and Gaelic settlers are also woven throughout the landscape. Visit Le Chemin du Buttereau or the Lone Shieling for a taste of history, then visit one of the many vibrant communities that border the park to experience living languages, music, and culinary traditions. 

 

Thinking of visiting the iconic Skyline Trail?

This popular trail offers awe-inspiring views of mountains, wildlife, and the sparkling Gulf of St. Lawrence. Visit the trail in the early morning to avoid crowds. 

You can help protect this spectacular view by staying on the designated boardwalk and following posted signs. The rare and fragile plantlife surrounding the trail has been damaged in recent years by visitors leaving the boardwalk and following social trails. Some of these lead dangerously close to cliff edges, and fines may be issued to visitors entering restricted areas. The Parks Canada conservation team has begun restoration efforts, but they need your help to let nature flourish in this area. Stay on the boardwalk and #ProtectTheView.

 

Hidden Gems

Why not take the trail less-travelled?  

 

Acadian Trail, climb 365 metres above the Chéticamp River for panoramic views of the Acadian coastline, the Chéticamp river valley and the park’s highland interior.

Aspy Trail, named for the unique geologic feature of the Aspy fault escarpment, is a hidden gem in the heart of the park, featuring a steep climb, waterfalls, and total immersion in forest and wilderness.

Mica Hill, gradually climb through a mix of Acadian forest and taiga wilderness to a panoramic view. The windswept plateau, dramatic Aspy fault, and dazzling displays of mica and quartz make this a must-do trail. 

Broad Cove Mountain, travel through a dense forest of softwood to the top of Broad Cove Mountain for exceptional views of the rocky Atlantic coast, with Middle Head and Cape Smokey in the distance.

Photography

Cape Breton Highlands National Park is the perfect backdrop in any photographer’s dreams. From rugged coastal landscapes to towering highland vistas, nature photographers are sure to enjoy capturing every second they spend in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

 

Drone flying is a popular hobby and useful in many fields of work (including photography). However, drones can pose risks to visitors, disturb wildlife, and lead to negative experiences for other visitors to Cape Breton Highlands National Park. For these reasons, Parks Canada strictly limits the use of drones.

 

Flying a drone without park or site approval may result in law enforcement action and a fine of up to $25,000.

You and your dog

Travelling with a beloved pet? Be sure to keep them on leash at all times, for their safety, the safety of wildlife, and out of respect to other visitors in the park. 

Dogs are not permitted on the Skyline Trail, the supervised portion of Ingonish beach, or in oTENTik units at campgrounds. Pets should not be left unattended in vehicles, particularly during the hot summer months.  

We welcome you and your pet on leash to explore other trails and day use areas throughout the park. Thank you for cleaning up after your pet. Pick up droppings and place them in appropriate refuse containers located at trailheads, day use areas, and parking lots. 

If you are travelling with a service animal, please contact us for more information: cbinfo@pc.gc.ca

Parks Canada Discovery Pass 

Get ready for exciting new experiences with the Parks Canada Discovery Pass – 450,000 km2 of memories await! Your gateway to history, nature, and adventure from coast to coast to coast. Get the pass that provides access to all Parks Canada administered sites for 12 full months from date of purchase.

Get curious about natural and cultural treasures in Canada, hear stories from Indigenous cultures, or explore hidden gems. Do it all with the Parks Canada Discovery Pass. 

Call  902-224-2306 to order your pass, or buy online at https://www.commandesparcs-parksorders.ca/en/decouverte-discovery. Business hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday to Friday, except statutory holidays.

2022 Fees

  • Family/Group (up to 7 people in a vehicle) – $145.25
  • Adult (18-64) – $72.25
  • Senior (65+) – $61.75
  • Youth (17 & under): Free 

Important Information 

Major credit cards are accepted, and passes will be mailed out to the recipient. Passes are non-transferrable and cover admission fees at Parks Canada administered places only. Additional fees for programs and experiences may apply. 

When planning your 2022 vacation, please be mindful of COVID-19 measures that may be in place throughout the year. 

Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Winter

We encourage everyone to get out and enjoy all winter has to offer. By staying active and connecting with nature, you need have no fear of the winter blues! While visitor services close for the season on October 25, the world-famous Cabot Trail drive is open year-round, and ungroomed trails remain accessible for outdoor treks within the park. As you make your way through the enchanting and unique mix of taiga, Acadian and boreal forests, watch for majestic wildlife like moose and bald eagles. Scenic look-offs offer spectacular views, with sea ice filling the bays and frozen spray coating the rocks. Prepare for the ultimate winter road trip, where the mountains meet the sea. 

Near the Ingonish Beach entrance to the park, hike or cross-country ski through the winding Clyburn Valley, a river canyon surrounded by Acadian forest. Grab your snowshoes and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife along Freshwater Lake. Or, get a glimpse of the wild Atlantic Ocean along Middle Head Trail, suitable for hiking or snowshoeing and located near Keltic Lodge. 

Near the Chéticamp entrance to the park, the Salmon Pools Trail is perfect for a family riverside stroll with snow-covered cliffs towering above. This trail also showcases more of the special ecology of the park, named for the Atlantic salmon that call the Chéticamp river home. More experienced winter enthusiasts should treat themselves to a snowshoe or cross-country ski along the Beulach Ban Road, which leads to a frozen waterfall and the Aspy trailhead.

The iconic Skyline Trail draws visitors all year long. If heading out on this dramatic headland, be sure to follow the boardwalk, as ski poles and snowshoe cleats can damage the rare and fragile vegetation along the trail, even under snow cover. Added caution is also needed as snow drifts can disguise cliff edges.

To make the most of this winter wonderland, it is important to exercise caution and come prepared. Winter essentials include plenty of snacks and drinking water, layers of clothing, hand sanitizer, a phone or communication device, and emergency supplies such as a first aid kit and sleeping bag. Cell service can be unreliable in this mountainous area, so let someone know your plans in advance. 

Important Information

  • There are no visitor services available in the park during the winter months. Be sure to check road reports in advance. Call 902-224-2306 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday, except statutory holidays, for updates and check our social media pages: @CBHNP on Facebook and @ParksCanada_NS on Twitter.
  • Be prepared for sudden weather changes, particularly along the coast and on the plateau. Be mindful of windy conditions when on trails, as snow drifts may cover your tracks and make it more difficult to navigate back along the same path. If you plan to explore areas along the plateau, such as Benjie’s Lake and Mica Hill, a GPS device is recommended as it is easy to become disoriented without a visible trail or tree line to follow. 
  • Visitor washrooms are available at the Chéticamp Visitor Centre year-round, although the Centre itself closes on October 25. Pit privies along trails may become inaccessible after large snowfalls. 
  • Expect Cape Breton hospitality in the communities along the Cabot Trail, where visitors are welcomed year-round to get a taste of local Acadian, Gaelic, and Mi’kmaw cultures. Keep in mind however that many businesses are seasonal. Be sure to book ahead for accommodations and call for updated hours of restaurants and other services, as options may be limited in the winter months.
  • Snow clearing priority goes to maintaining access to the Cabot Trail highway, so trail parking lots may not be plowed directly following large snowfalls. Our asset management team does their best to maintain parking lot access for the following areas, which are popular with visitors and locals alike:

Skyline – Hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing

Benjie’s Lake – Cross-country skiing

Mica Hill – Hiking, snowshoeing

Aspy – Hiking, snowshoeing

Clyburn Valley – Cross-country skiing, family friendly 

Warren Lake – Cross-country skiing

Franey – Hiking, snowshoeing 

Middle Head – Hiking, snowshoeing

Freshwater Lake – Hiking, snowshoeing, family friendly 

Salmon Pools – Hiking, snowshoeing, family friendly

Acadian trail – Hiking, snowshoeing

*Note that in some cases the parking lot is located several kilometers from the trailhead, so skis or snowshoes may be needed to reach the trail.

Experiences Nearby

Places to Stay Nearby