Five nights; five days. A cycling, walking and kayaking holiday around Cape Breton Island, including the Fortress of Louisbourg and the musical hotbed of Mabou.
Start: Meet in Halifax at The Lord Nelson Hotel 12:00, or Halifax Airport, ~12:45, day one (or contact us to arrange alternate pickup location in Halifax). Transfer 4½ hours to Louisbourg. Alternatively, one way flights are available into Sydney, a 30 minute taxi ride from Louisbourg.
Finish: Downtown Halifax, 19:00, day seven. Note that flying via Sydney is logistically more difficult than at the beginning of your tour.
Meet in downtown Halifax at 12:00 or the airport at about 12:45, for a 4½ hours transfer to Louisbourg. To avoid the drive, you can fly into Sydney, only 45 minutes to Louisbourg by taxi. D (Meal inclusions provided for guided trips. Note: Self-guided trips include breakfast only).
Louisbourg Harbour Inn, or
Cranberry Cove Inn; Louisbourg
Short bike ride to visit Louisbourg, and afternoon hike on the Lighthouse Trail. Optional 56km ride to Main-a-Dieu and back.
Spend the morning discovering the French fortress of Louisbourg. The original fortress, constructed mainly between 1720 and 1740, was one of the most extensive (and expensive) European fortifications constructed in North America. Today it is an 18th-century adventure nestled on the edge of the sea - a place where muskets and mortars, women in hoop skirts and men in wigs, town criers and the 'iron collar' are a part of re-enacted everyday life. After a period meal, this afternoon’s hike will take you along the coast on the Lighthouse Trail, unless you prefer an independent bike ride along the coast to Baleine, Gooseberry Cove, and Main-a-Dieu. The population of Main-a-Dieu is 240, and there is a fascinating fisheries museum. You may also learn about myriad shipwrecks – victims of the beautifully rugged coast. The hike takes you to one of the most beautifully preserved and spectacular lighthouses on the East Coast of North America. You will see why it exists! BLD
Cycling 75km Louisbourg to East Bay; optional 40km extension to Iona.
A beautifully long and quiet ride west today, starting at Louisbourg, and skirting the Bras d’Or Lakes from a sandbar at East Bay. From there you’ll be shuttled through Eskasoni across the bridge at Grand Narrows to Iona, arriving with time to visit the Nova Scotia Highland Village and learn about the region's Scottish heritage. Keen cyclists can skip the afternoon transfer, but you may miss the Highland Village experience and must be prepared to ride independently while others are transferred. BLD
The Iona Heights Inn, Iona
Cycling 83km Iona to Glenville or Mabou
Cross the ferry at Little Narrows and follow a simply idyllic ride around the north shore of Lake Ainslie. You’ll finish your day at the first single malt distillery to be located outside Scotland. Even if you eschew the opportunity to taste, you will enjoy the setting at the foot of the Mabou hills, straddling a stream whose waters become, with the distillers’ art, the golden liquid that puts this place on the map. BLD
Glenora Inn & Distillery, Glenville; or
Duncreigan Country Inn, Mabou
Celtic Shores Trail Cycling 15km & Sea Kayaking 4-6 hours in Mabou Harbour
Follow the Celtic Shores recreation trail from Glenville to Mabou from where you’ll embark on a 4-6 hour paddling excursion at Mabou Harbour. This is a beautiful inlet, leading to coastal scenery rivalling Scotland’s, with gorgeous hillside meadows tumbling down hillsides toward the sea. We look forward to showing you the beauty. BLD
Skyline Trail Hiking up to 15km
Just wait ‘til you see this hike! Cut into the edge of a hill that tumbles all the way to the sea, your path to Sight Point or the Skyline Trail will leave you giddy with excitement, and maybe vertigo. This is the part of Nova Scotia that most reminds us of its namesake: Scotland. You may even see some sheep illustrating the area’s heritage. In any case, you will be amazed at the expansive sea views as you explore this and other trails on a good day of hiking. 3½ hour transfer back to Halifax at day’s end arriving by 19:00. BL
Note about the route:
This trip is a bit more challenging than the Nova Scotia Mainland Multisport. Kayaking is at moderate pace in waters matched to the group’s abilities. Cycling is on paved roads with some short gravel sections. Hiking is on steep terrain requiring sturdy footwear.
If you have ever wanted to see why Cape Breton Island has inspired musicians, artists, and inventors, spreading their good will around the world, this is a perfect way to do so without tackling the challenging terrain of the Cabot Trail. Starting with the exciting reconstructed fortress and reenacted ambience of Louisbourg on the east coast of Cape Breton, you will hike and cycle the rugged coast and islands while learning about early North American struggles between French and English in such places as Main-a-Dieu (Hand of God), and Louisbourg itself. You will then ride your bicycle, following lake shores and valleys across Cape Breton Island to the west coast at Mabou, a quiet village that at first glance belies the abundance of musical talent enjoyed there. An evening at The Red Shoe will give you some idea of the culture thriving in the surrounding hills. You can enjoy one of our favourite rides around Lake Ainslie, and visit the only single malt distillery outside Scotland, before a fantastic hike on your last day, along the path cut into the side of the coastal hills at Sight Point. This tour is full of Cape Breton magic, but we guarantee you will leave wanting more!
Maps & Elevations
Before & After
Spend some extra time in Halifax including a visit to the Titanic gravesites.
Add a day or two of Sea kayaking on Nova Scotia's South Shore.
Take a trip through time at one of Nova Scotia's 28 provincial museums or spend some time at a national historic site.
Contact us for hiking, cycling, paddling, or multisport extensions.
Meet downtown Halifax at The Lord Nelson Hotel, 12:00, or Halifax Airport at about 12:45, day one (or contact us to arrange alternate pickup location in Halifax). One way flights are also available to Sydney, only a 45 minute taxi ride from Louisbourg.
Downtown Halifax, 19:00, day seven. Note that flying out via Sydney is not recommended.
US 1995 C 2395
(per person, includes 6 days, 5 nights, 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 5 dinners, sea kayak equipment, Louisbourg admission fees, luggage handling, vehicle and guide support, maps and route notes, transfers from/to Halifax)
US 1865 C 2195
(per person, includes 6 days, 5 nights, 5 breakfasts, 1 lunches, sea kayak equipment and guide, luggage transfers, essential vehicle transfers, maps and route notes, transfers from/to Halifax)
US 395 C 475
US 125 C 145
US 225 C 265
Full Carbon Racing:
US 335 C 395
US 335 C 395
All details and pricing are subject to change without notice. 15% sales tax applies (7.5% for non-Canadians).
Jul 10-15; Aug 21-26; Sep 11-16
Jul 2-10; Aug 5-11; Sep 10-16
I want different dates
June - October (fall foliage)
Custom or Private Tours
Want to go but on different dates?
Want to make a change to the itinerary?
We can adapt for you!
Here are some terms:
Bring your friends. We will run most of these trips for you whenever you want, at the advertised price for a group of four or more on a guided trip, or two if it's self-guided! We reserve the right to make changes if the original inns, etc. are already booked.
If you cannot find others, let us advertise the trip for you! Give us a commitment as far in advance as you can. As long as we have the minimum number of guests at the start, the price will be as advertised. The catch is that if it is just two of you and you want a guided trip, you must be willing to pay a 20% premium in the event that others do not join you. The bright side is that, once reserved, you can count on the trip, whether it remains private or becomes a larger group.
Ask for changes to the itinerary.
We are very flexible, and given enough time, can create a new itinerary to match your desires.