Moderate, Challenging
Difficulty level
Bike
Primary Activity

Canada, Nova Scotia: Cabot Trail Bike Tour

A classic 6-day bicycling adventure on a paved 298km loop. Five or six nights; six days of some of the best cycling in the world.


“Simply amazing – the incredible views, sounds of nature, and the smell of fresh air and ocean all combined to make this the most exhilarating and personally rewarding holiday.” – Beth J

 

WHY THIS TRIP?

  • It’s a must-do trip for touring cyclists. The loop nature engenders a wonderful satisfaction, and this is one of Freewheeling’s most popular rides.
  • Cape Breton Island is an award winning destination: rated the #1 island in N. America by Condé Nast Traveler, and consistently the top island travel destination by Travel & Leisure.
  • The simple beauty of cycling between mountains and sea, in a remote island setting not on the way to anywhere.
  • Margaree River Valley – a pretty salmon-fishing river.
  • Acadian culture in Cheticamp. Learn about the 1755 expulsion of Acadians and their re-settlement.
  • You may see whales from the shore. Moose in the highlands, and eagles in the sky.
  • Cape Breton Highlands National Park – a natural treasure.
  • The Markland Inn – a spectacular place far from crowds.
  • Abundant fresh seafood.

 

ROUTE EXPECTATIONS:

This is primarily a moderate route, suitable for most ability levels, but some days may be a little more challenging. You can expect some long distances, and/or some big climbs/descents


This is a spectacular ride, moderate most of the time, but with some black diamond challenges including two climbs of about 400m. on day 3. Electric bikes are available if you prefer to make things easier. Road bikes are suitable. Hybrid/fitness bikes are the most popular. The riding surface is almost entirely paved and traffic-shared, with very few short gravel sections.


Daily Distance:

  • DAY 1: Introductions
  • DAY 2: Short ~30km; Long ~50km + options
  • DAY 3: Short ~47km; Long ~78km
  • DAY 4: Short ~26km; Long ~54km
  • DAY 5: Short ~45km; Long ~61km
  • DAY 6: Short ~35km; Long ~77km

Cabot Trail Bike Tour – Elevation Profile

(Click image to enlarge)

 

Not sure about difficulties, and support level? Check out our What to Expect page!

Start: Halifax, The Lord Nelson Hotel, 13:00, day one, for an optional transfer (included), or at your first inn in Margaree.

Finish: Cycling finishes mid-afternoon, day six, at the inn in Margaree. Freewheeling shuttle gets you back to Halifax by 19:30, and your night in Halifax is included if you choose the six-night option.

Please contact us to arrange alternate plans, if necessary.

1

Introductions

Our transfer departs Halifax at midday. Otherwise, meet late this afternoon at your first inn (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

2

Margaree to Cheticamp. Short ~30km; Long ~50km + options

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. Dinner on the Cheticamp waterfront. BLD

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

3

Cheticamp to Dingwall. Short ~47km; Long ~78km

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

4

Dingwall to Ingonish. Short ~26km; Long ~54km

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 at the Highland Links. For independent dinner, you can choose between the bistro or the formal dining room. B

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

5

Ingonish to Baddeck. Short ~45km; Long ~61km

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, or Water’s Edge Inn; Baddeck

6

Final Ride & Farewells. Short ~35km; Long ~77km

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 along Middle River Valley to finish your activity with a refreshing swim in Lake O’Law. Unless you are continuing to experience Inverness and the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail with us on the Mabou Multisport extension, your adventure concludes this afternoon at your inn in the Margaree Valley, from where the optional transfer to Halifax departs, arriving by about 19:30. If you have purchased the six night option, your room in Halifax is included tonight. B

All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.

Guided: C 2985 (per person, double occupancy)

Includes 6 days, 5 or 6 nights, 5 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 dinners, luggage handling, transfer from Halifax to Cape Breton and back, support vehicle and full-time guide/driver, maps, route instructions, 15% sales tax.

Contact us about the six-night option including a night in Halifax following the ride.


Self-Guided: C 2735 (per person, double occupancy)

Includes 6 days, 5 or 6 nights, 5 breakfasts, inn to inn luggage transfers, your transfer between Halifax and Cape Breton if necessary, maps, route instructions, on-call emergency support, 15% sales tax.

Contact us about six-day, six-night option including a night in Halifax following the ride.


Single Occupancy: 735

Bike Rentals:

Hybrid-Fitness: 155

Aluminum Racing: 295

Carbon Racing: 455

Electric-Assist: 455


All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.


2022 Guided dates:

  • Jun 19-24
  • Jul 3-8
  • Jul 17-22 (Full)
  • Jul 24-29 (Full)
  • Jul 31-Aug 5
  • Aug 7-12
  • Aug 14-19 (Full)
  • Aug 21-26
  • Aug 28-Sep 2
  • Sep 3-8
  • Sep 11-16 (Full)
  • Sep 18-23
  • Sep 25-30
  • Oct 9-14

2023 Guided dates:

  • Jun 18-23
  • Jul 2-7
  • Jul 16-21
  • Jul 30-Aug 3
  • Aug 13-18
  • Aug 27-Sep 1
  • Sep 10-15
  • Sep 24-29
  • Oct 8-13

Self-Guided available any dates, except for those listed above. New dates are also welcomed for guided or private departures.

Interested in custom or private departures?


Please see above for accurate pricing and inclusions, unless we have proposed a customized trip for you and those details are provided in your custom proposal.

1. Choose an advertised date to join a small group, or see our Join a Group page to see where groups are already forming.

2. Pick your own dates. We will confirm quickly, and are happy to talk with you as you make your choice. If you would like a private guided date, price remains the same as advertised if you have at least six. If you prefer self-guided, we usually only require two participants to initiate a new date at the advertised price, and can sometimes reduce prices for you if you have four or more.

 
PLEASE NOTE: Trip Cancellation Insurance is highly recommended. If this is not provided by your credit card or elsewhere, please let us know and we can provide recommendations.

More Reading:


This 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, and the scenic magnificence of the paved trail can be truly savoured at the speed of your bicycle. The landscape and the people may demonstrate to you why Nova Scotia’s name means New Scotland. You will ride through the valley of the Margaree River, rich with salmon and its pursuit. You can choose to linger at the famous Highland Links if you prefer golf to cycling, and on some days you can expand your rides onto beautiful wooded trails, or to find swimming holes beneath waterfalls. 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 loop ride an exquisite experience you simply have to add to your list!