Middle Head Trail, Highlands National Park, Cape Breton, NS

Trailhead: head towards the Keltic Lodge; Civic Address is : 383 Keltic Inn Road, Ingonish.

The distant is 3.8 km (2.4 mi) loop I would recommends 1– 2 hours. There are lots of photo opportunities you don’t want to scrimp on time.

Elevation is : 5-45 m or 15 –150 ft. It is an out and back trial with an option for a lightly used loop trail at the far tip that joins the main trail. Some declines/ inclines that are steep and hiking poles would be an asset if you have a mobility issue, but are not necessary. There are a few rocky areas so wear ankle supportive footwear. The trail Is well marked and easy to follow. Lots of raspberries to pick along the trail in late July, early August, if you bring a dish
Trail Rating: Moderate

GPS Co-ordinates for Trailhead (in decimal degrees):
Lat: 46.655391 Long: -60.372142

I am so excited, I have my sister with me on this adventure. Hiking is not her sport but In preparation she has walked down the hill from her home on top of the County line road, down into the village of West Bay, and back up again, all spring. it is an elevation gain of over 250 meters, nothing to laugh at. She has also added a 2 km trail hike around her property with her husband- John MacInnis, every mornings, plus she teaches Yoga a couple of days a week. She has over-prepared to tackle our hikes in the Highland National Park, of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia but I am proud of her determination to be ready and Middle head trail, will be our first challenge. Listed as a moderate hike that will be a little outside of her comfort zone but, I have full confidence she and I will conquer it together.

My favourite photo op place looking towards Cape Smokey, on the Road leading to Celtic Lodge. Just north of the town of Ingonish

I have no idea why I haven’t hiked this trail before, as I stand in the parking lot that looks out to Cape Smokey and down to Ingonish beach. I have been here many times but mostly on trips around the Cabot Trail that have been done in one six hour racing from look off to look off to get home in time for Coronation street . Yesterday was the start of a new tradition, Mary and I camped out to be able to have an early start to beat the heat. We have given ourselves five days, to have a proper look around, this undiscovered territory of Northern Cape Breton.

Not far up the trail, we read a plaque that states Mr. Henry Corson, a friend of Alexandre Graham Bell, built a home on this strip of land. We stop for a photo at the old entrance gate to his -then private property line, and continue up the path. Walking through a sheltered area out of the sun and wind for about 15 minutes. We stopping just before the downhill section that is probably the most difficult part of the trail because of the roots and rocks. It looks flat but it is not. It is a tricky downward slope that requires extra caution when placing your feet.

We come out at an open space in the trees that has great light and lots of moss, ferns and spruce trees Blueberries and raspberries. The wind is starting to pick up as the trees dwarf we get more exposed. This place is pure wilderness at its best. I pause to take lots of photos then we carry on up the path. My sister is starting to questing how much further? stopping to do a warrior pose at a gnarled tree, it all looks beautiful so far but I assure her that there is always a treasure at the end of the trail worth waiting for.

Through the path we find more spruce trees that are bend and look frail. I wonder if they had a choice of where their seed hand landed, if they would have chosen another spot to grow? It is hard living out on the wind whipped coast, and yet they will never know the difference.

we burst out of the stunted forest and land on the coastal meadow. Mary has succeed in her first wilderness hike an is awe struck -she loves it and is so proud and so happy she gets to experience this end point.. She says she can’t wait to show her friends the photos and she hopes they will join her here, saying ” it wasn’t that difficult.” I think John could even do it.
The prize at the end of the trail.

A few meters up the path to the end. and we find the big red chair. Nova Scotia tourism places them in spots that are incredible. There is one at Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia, and Cape Forchu, Nova Scotia. Mary and I are todays first explorers here and for our early start we have been reward by having the place all to ourselves. I am sure we both are thinking, Is there anything prettier than this? Middle head has proven it is worth the long wait.

I loved this trail, so much, the views will impress even the most seasoned travellers. Please join me gain as I look around Cape Breton. Happy travels from Maritimemac


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