Canada: Nova Scotia

Cabot Trail & Celtic Shores Bike

Combine the classic Cabot Trail ride with Cape Breton Island’s other highlights – Inverness, with Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs, and traffic free cycling on the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail.
“...the most challenging and rewarding vacation we've ever taken. The group size was perfect and our guides were fantastic!" - Jennifer D.





Itinerary



Start: Meet in Port Hawkesbury at 16:00; an optional transfer is available from Halifax, The Lord Nelson Hotel, noon, day one. Please contact us to arrange alternate plans, if necessary.

Finish: Port Hawkesbury at 15:00. A 2 ¾ hour transfer back to Halifax at day’s end arrives by 19:00.


Day 1

Introductions

An optional transfer departs Halifax at midday. Otherwise, meet late this afternoon in Port Hawkesbury (a good place to park your vehicle for the week if you’re driving yourself). Live music often follows dinner - an introduction to the musical culture of Cape Breton Island. D (Meal inclusions provided for guided trips only)

Normaway Inn, Northeast Margaree


Day 2

Day 2: Short: 28.4km +155m/-235m; Long: 53.6km +344m/-422m

Ride down the East side of Margaree River Valley to its mouth, where you can stop for lobster on the beach. Short option riders will transfer to Cheticamp from Belle Côte. The long option follows the ocean through the Acadian region to Cheticamp. If you arrive early enough, you can spend the remainder of the afternoon exploring this very Acadian town and its surroundings. You can sometimes whale watch from the bluffs at Cheticamp Island, and can hike or ride off-road to the salmon pools, with opportunities to swim as well. For your independent dinner, choose from several options along the Cheticamp waterfront. BL

Maison Fiset House, or
Auberge des Pecheurs, or
Silver Lining Inn, Cheticamp


Day 3

Short: 46.5km +786m/-762m; Long: 78.1km +1393m/-1388m

Today is a challenging day of cycling through Cape Breton Highlands National Park; cycling distances and terrain can be adjusted using transfers. Short option finishes at MacIntosh Brook with a transfer to your inn at Dingwall. Long option includes climbing the second of two 'mountains' each of about 430m/1400 feet. The scenery today is awe-inspiring; the ascents are long, and the descents...ahh, the descents! If only they'd go on forever. BLD

Markland Inn, Dingwall


Day 4

Short: 28.4km +306m/-291m; Long: 54km +601m/-591m

Cycle the scenic route between Cape North and Neil's Harbour (where the shorter ride begins), stopping for a short hike at spectacular White Point, where eagles often soar over spouting whales. Options include swimming holes, waterfalls, beaches, and golf on the Highland Links. BD

Keltic Lodge, Ingonish Beach; or
Castle Rock Country Inn, Ingonish


Day 5

Short: 43.6km+359m/-605m; Long: 60.6km +759m/-746m

A nicely undulating ride along the East Coast follows the initial climb over Cape Smokey. You can choose to ease the ride with a transfer up and over Smokey. Enjoy a picnic feast at Indian Brook or an interesting café in the middle of nowhere, and finish at a secluded inn on the shores of St. Anne’s Bay. BLD

Chanterelle Inn, St. Anne’s Bay; or
Water’s Edge Inn, Baddeck


Day 6

78.1km +806m/-735m; extra cycling available

On this morning’s ride to Baddeck, you can stop to visit the Gaelic College Great Hall of the Clans Museum, or if you are already in Baddeck, visit the Alexander Graham Bell Museum. Bell's airplane, the Silver Dart, was airborne about the same time as the Kitty Hawk. There are good lunch options to choose from in the waterfront village of Baddeck, before climbing over Hunter’s Mountain (152m/500ft.) and biking along Middle River to finish with a refreshing swim in Lake O’Law before transferring (or cycling) to your lodge on the west coast of Cape Breton Island. Please let us know at your time of booking if you are interested golfing at Cabot Links or Cabot Cliffs; advance reservations are necessary. BD

Glenora Inn & Distillery, or
Cabot Links Resort, Inverness


Day 7

20km bike ride & 8km hike; optional golfing at Cabot Links or Cabot Cliffs requires significant advance booking

A spectacular day begins with a bike ride to the trailhead at Sight Point where you’ll hike a fantastic trail overlooking the sea. The scenery is truly reminiscent of Scotland’s highlands, with the sea by your side. Then cycle into the musical hub of Mabou. The Mi'kmaq word for Mabou is Madawak - "where two or more rivers meet and flow into one larger river"; aptly named, as the village is the heart of numerous rural Gaelic communities. BLD

Duncreigan Inn, Mabou; or
Haus Treuberg, or
Hillcrest Hall, Port Hood; or
Inn on the Intervale, Judique


Day 8

Cycling up to 65km on the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail.

Follow the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail south of Port Hood toward Port Hawkesbury, relishing views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence along the way. Stop for a quick dip at one of Port Hood's five beaches, known for stretches of sandy shores and (comparatively) warm waters. Finish, if you can make it that far before we pick you up, at the Canso Causeway and Locks. Your adventure concludes in Port Hawkesbury where an optional 2 ¾ hour transfer can deliver you to Halifax at day’s end. BL



Description



Route expectations:

A moderate ride with a few steep and challenging sections, especially on day three when there are two 1400ft. climbs. Ride 50-90km (30-55 miles) per day with some optional extra riding available most days. A spectacular ride some parts of which are “black-diamond” challenges. Last two days on a crushed surface former railbed trail. If you are riding the Cabot Trail with a road bike, a hybrid bike will be provided for the trail.



Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island in named Canada’s #1 island by Travel & Leisure, and Canada’s best-kept secret by National Geographic. There are many attractions, and this ride shows you the three top ones. First of all, the Cabot Trail is one of the world’s greatest rides; one that all touring cyclists should have on their “must-ride” list! The beautiful coast – the most dramatic in Nova Scotia - meets the breathtaking highlands in ways that make you appreciate both to the fullest. The scenic magnificence of the paved trail can be really savoured and fully appreciated at the speed of your bicycle, while the landscape and the people may demonstrate to you why Nova Scotia’s name means New Scotland.

Secondly, the small town of Inverness now boasts two of the world’s best-rated golf courses, a fabulous long beach, and a unique whisky distillery nestled in the highlands on the way to the musical town of Mabou – home of the renowned Rankin Family, and the inviting Red Shoe Pub. Lastly, the new Celtic Shores Coastal Trail takes you on a traffic-free route along the Mabou River to the coast, then follows the shore, giving you many miles of uninterrupted views over the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The road is inland, and the views are all yours.

We begin at a refurbished salmon camp in the valley of the Margaree River, and circumnavigate the northern half of the island on the paved Cabot Trail for five days. If you like golf, you can choose to linger at any of three courses considered among the world’s best - Highland Links, Cabot Links, and Cabot Cliffs. You can also expand your rides onto beautiful wooded trails, or to find swimming holes beneath waterfalls. After completing the Cabot Trail loop, we progress to the traffic-free trail along Cape Breton’s western shore, from the musical highland village of Mabou through Port Hood and Judique along the Celtic Shores trail. Views over the water become frequent and magnificent as you approach the Canso Causeway. The cycling, although manageable by most cyclists (and van-supported for the rest!) includes some challenging sections – especially on day three with two 1400ft climbs. Combining such awe-inspiring scenery and out-of–the-way charm with comfortable inns and exceptional cuisine makes this ride an exquisite experience you simply have to add to your list!



Map & Elevations





Click here for the elevation profile

Day # Daily distance
2
Short ~ 28.4km, Long ~ 53.6km
3
Short ~ 46.5km, Long ~ 78km
4
Short ~ 28.5km, Long ~ 54km
5
Short ~ 43.5km, Long ~ 60.5km
6
~ 78km
7
~ 20km bike ride
8km hike + options
8
~ Up to 65km




Learn more



This ride combines very well with other Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland rides/hikes to make a longer holiday.

Explore more of Cape Breton Island. Visit the amazing Fortress of Louisbourg.

In Halifax, visit the Halifax farmer's market, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the Citadel; all highly recommended. Halifax is the usual arrival point for those coming by air. It is a small port city with an attractive waterfront, and an abundance of restaurants, bars, cafes, and hotel choices. The new library has been winning international architectural awards.

Read Helene's blog about the ride.



Costs



US 3265 C 3975 (per person, double occupancy)

Includes 8 days, 7 nights, 7 breakfast, 5 lunch, 6 dinners, luggage handling, support vehicle and full-time guide/driver, maps, route instructions, 15% sales tax

US 2665 C 3195 (per person, double occupancy)

Includes 8 days, 7 nights, 7 breakfasts, inn to inn luggage transfers, maps, route instructions, on-call emergency support, 15% sales tax

Single room
surcharge

US 745 C 895


Bicycle
Rental

Hybrid: US 135 C 155
Road: US 255 C 295
Full Carbon Road: US 395 C 455
Electric-assist: US 395 C 455


Transfer

Optional 4 hour transfer from Halifax to Cape Breton and back $85 per person/return




All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.