The last few Canadian road trips I’ve done had me participating in what I like to call drive by hiking. It started in Newfoundland last year and has continued in Nova Scotia this year. With such large territories to cover and much to see it makes sense to rent a car to experience the premiere tourist areas of these provinces. Sitting for long periods of time, however, require you to get out and stretch your legs. And while you’re stretching, why not go for a walk too? Taking breaks from driving also helps with alertness and gives you a chance to take in the scenery and snap some photos. Hence the birth of drive by hiking. You can see the sights and maintain your fitness by driving through your destination and stopping along the way at designated hiking trails.
The hip flexors are a group of muscles located between the hip and knee joints. They allow us to take a bow, lift our knees and sit in a chair. Too much flexion of these muscles, however, can result in tightness and pain. Stretching these muscles can help alleviate this. If sitting for long periods of time, make sure to stretch your hip flexors.
This edition of Peregrinations & Meditations explores the Cape Breton Highlands of Nova Scotia. I managed to complete 12 hikes (yes 12) in 2 days. Some were only 10 minutes long while others ranged from 20 minutes to 3 hours. The hikes are as follows:
- Le Chemin de Buttereau
This was a mistake. I thought it was another hike with a similar name so I only walked in part way and then walked out. But it was nice scenery and a good warm-up for the many more hikes to follow.
- Le Buttereau
This was the one I wanted. It promised a loop trail with a look-out point to the stunning Cabot Trail. It did not disappoint.
- Corney Brook
My first scare as the trail head warned of coyotes in the area. Managed to get there and back without encountering one. A one-way trail with a waterfall to indicate the end of the road.
According to guidebooks this is one of the top hikes to do in the Cape Breton Highlands. Again an animal warning (this time a bear!) but I didn’t encounter any. Halfway through it poured rain and the wind on the scenic lookout point was raging so I wasn’t able to easily enjoy the beautiful scenery. A shame as in retrospect it was probably the best view to be had throughout the entire park.
An easy walk on a flat boardwalk to see a bunch of flowers, trees and hopefully moose. No moose for me this time.
- MacIntosh Brook
A more or less flat trail yet you felt like you were way out in the wilderness. I think I took my best photos here and I enjoyed the walk too.
- Lone Shieling
Maple trees and a replica of a small Scottish farmer’s hut.
- Jack Pine
A challenging loop trail with more animal warnings (moose, bear, coyote). The path didn’t always seem clear but the markers along the way indicated you were on the right track.
- Green Cove
Short and sweet, a walk to some big rocks at the water’s edge. There are warnings for rogue waves that may suddenly come up and take you out.
- Middle Head
A nice all-around hike – picturesque scenery (i.e. ocean, forest, flowers, gentle hills), rest areas, close to civilization and a decent length to feel as though you’ve done something active but not too strenuous.
- Freshwater Lake
A flat loop trail with bathrooms and a swimming area along the route.
- Freshwater Lake Look-off
Quick but intense, there is a chair at the top if you want to rest and enjoy the scenery.
- Beginner – never hiked before but willing to give it a try. Minimal fitness level needed. Also ideal walks for those who are short on time.
5, 7, 9, 11
- Intermediate – good shoes and fitness level required. Terrain can be slippery and uneven. There are uphill and downhill sections which will likely increase your heart rate and result in some sweating.
2, 3, 6, 10, 12
- Advanced – ideal for the experienced hiker who is willing to confront wild animals if encountered. Stamina required.
1, 4, 8
More information on all marked hikes in the Cape Breton Highlands can be found on the Parks Canada website. Click here.
Distances, estimated times and elevations are given for each hike and are a fairly accurate guide to follow when planning your hikes.
For your own safety heed all warnings regarding weather and wildlife and attempt hikes only when well-rested and prepared for them.
I enjoyed my Peregrinations in the Cape Breton Highlands. My emotions ran the gamut: “wow this is amazing“; “moose, coyotes and bears oh my!“; “I feel great that I finished this“; “is it over yet? I’m thirsty, tired and ready to be done“. And now for the Meditation:
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”