Moderate, Challenging
Difficulty level
Activity (Bike)

Canada, Nova Scotia: Cabot Trail Bike Tour

A classic cycling adventure around the coastal perimeter of northern Cape Breton Island.

“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


  • It’s a must-do trip for touring cyclists. This is one of Freewheeling’s most popular rides.
  • For the fifth straight year, Cape Breton Island has been ranked #1 island in Canada in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards. The Island was also ranked #10 on Travel + Leisure’s list of the 25 Best Islands in the World.
  • The simple beauty of cycling between mountains and sea, in a remote island setting not on the way to anywhere.
  • Views over the sea on every day, from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the open Atlantic Ocean.
  • Rest and dine at the first single-malt distillery in North America, near the musical town of Mabou. Its history is fascinating.
  • The Markland Inn – a spectacular place far from crowds on an empty three mile beach.
  • 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.
  • Abundant fresh seafood.



Learn about our difficulty-rating system

This is a spectacular ride, moderate most of the time, but with some black diamond challenges including two climbs of about 400m. Electric bikes are available if you prefer to make things easier. Gravel or hybrid/fitness bikes are the most versatile and popular. The riding surface is almost entirely paved and traffic-shared, but for the best options on the first day of cycling we recommend gravel or hybrid bikes for a rail trail with a crusher dust surface, and a coastal ride on a very rough road. Road bikes are otherwise suitable.

Daily Distance:

  • DAY 1: Introductions
  • DAY 2: Short ~42km; Long ~67km
  • DAY 3: Short ~47km; Long ~78km
  • DAY 4: Short ~31km; Long ~54km
  • DAY 5: Short ~44km; Long ~61km
  • DAY 6: Short ~35km; Long ~78km

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: Shuttle to Cape Breton (~4hrs) departs Halifax, The Lord Nelson Hotel, 13:00, day one. If you plan to drive your own vehicle to Cape Breton, contact us to discuss parking options.

Finish: Cycling finishes mid-afternoon, day six, in Baddeck. Freewheeling shuttle will return you to Halifax by about 18:00.

Please contact us to arrange alternate plans, if necessary.



An optional transfer departs Halifax at midday. Otherwise, meet late this afternoon at your first inn, where you can park your car for the week if you’re driving yourself. D (Meal inclusions provided for guided trips only)

Glenora Inn and Distillery, Inverness; or Inn at Glendyer, Glendyer; or Normaway Inn, Margaree.


Inverness to Cheticamp. Short ~42km; Long ~67km

Ride on the rail trail into the pretty village of Inverness – home to one of the highest rated golf courses in the world, a horseracing track, and a fabulous beach. From there, follow Broad Cove Banks along a spectacular coastal ride, with stops at two more wonderful beaches, to where the Margaree River spills into the sea at Margaree Harbour. Short option riders will transfer to Cheticamp from Belle Côte. The long option follows the ocean through the Acadian coastal region to Cheticamp. If you arrive early enough, you can spend the remainder of the afternoon exploring this very Acadian town and its surroundings. There are hiking, off-road riding, and swimming opportunities, and you can sometimes whale watch from the bluffs at Cheticamp Island. BL

Maison Fiset House, or Silver Lining Inn, Cheticamp.


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.


Dingwall to Ingonish. Short ~31km; 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. BLD

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


Ingonish to Baddeck. Short ~44km; 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 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. BD

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


North River to Baddeck. ~35km.

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 returning to Glenora or Halifax with our free shuttle.. B

All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.


2024 Guided:

  • Jun 16-21
  • Jun 30-Jul 5
  • Jul 7-12
  • Jul 14-19
  • Jul 21-26
  • Jul 28-Aug 2
  • Aug 4-9
  • Aug 11-16

  • Aug 18-23
  • Aug 25-30
  • Sep 1-6
  • Sep 15-20
  • Sep 22-27
  • Sep 29-Oct 4
  • Oct 6-11
  • Oct 13-18

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


Guided: C 3445 (per person, double occupancy)

Includes 6 days, 5 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, hybrid bicycle rental, 15% sales tax.

Small groups or private tours, fully supported with drivers/guides and vehicles, all lodging and most meals included. Choose from existing dates or request new departures. Read more on our “What to Expect” page.

Self-Guided: C 2985 (per person, double occupancy)

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

Semi-supported, independent tours including welcome briefing, lodging, luggage transfers and necessary vehicle transfers. Choose from existing dates or request new departures. Read more on our “What to Expect” page.

Single Occupancy: 735

Bike Rentals:

Hybrid: Included

Flat bars. Trek FX3 or similar, with rear rack/trunk bag. Lowstep frames available by request.

Upgrade to Road: 150

Drop bars. Trek Domane AL5, SL5, or similar, with rear rack/trunk bag (no rack/bag on carbon frames).

Upgrade to E-bike: 300

Flat bars. Trek Verve+ 2 or similar, with rear rack/trunk bag. Lowstep frames available by request.

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, this usually comes at a surcharge depending on the details, please get in touch for more information. 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.

All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.


The best time to enjoy this tour is mid-June to mid-October.

Spring daytimes warm up to 10 to 20 °C (50 to 70 °F) by mid June. Note that seasonal businesses may still be closed, or on off-season hours, until late June.

Summer, mid June to mid September, is normally 20 to 25 °C (70 to 80 °F). Freshwater and saltwater swimming is encouraged.

Autumn, mid September to mid October, daytimes 10 to 20 °C range (50 to 70 °F). Nights can be chilly, but rarely down to freezing. Mid-October is the best time to see spectacularly colorful fall foliage.


If you fly: The best option is to fly to Halifax (YHZ). We meet you at your inn in Halifax, for a transfer (four hours) to Cape Breton Island with the Freewheeling shuttle. Halifax’s downtown core is located about half an hour from its airport. Taxis are readily available; Maritime Bus offers an airport expressshuttle ($40 roundtrip or $22 one way); and Halifax Transit provides hourly departures on its MetroX bus service ($4.25 fare).

If you drive: Meet at your first inn, day one. It is 400km from Halifax, 1500km from New York, and 2000km from Toronto. You can park at the inn for the week.


Cycling finishes mid-afternoon on the last day, normally in Baddeck. Freewheeling shuttle gets you back to Halifax usually by about 19:30pm. It is best to fly out the following morning. Contact us for hotel recommendations.


If you have one day:
Rent a car (we can drop you at Halifax airport on day 6), and visit Wolfville, from where you can experience the highest tides in the world by car or on a 4-hour hike, visit wineries in the Gaspereau Valley, or just enjoy the rural university town.

Join us for a day trip kayaking on the South Shore, or rent a bike from our HQ and ride the Aspotogan loop.

If you have several days:

Extend your trip without leaving Cape Breton Island on the 6-day Cape Breton Hike experience. Join one of our other rides in Nova Scotia, or the adjacent provinces, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland .

We recommend the following accommodations in Halifax for before or after your tour; please let us know if we can assist with reservations:

• The Lord Nelson, 1515 South Park Street Ph: 902-423-6331 or 800-565-2020
• Prince George Hotel, 1725 Market Street Ph: 902-425-1986 or 800-565-1567
• The Halliburton Inn, 5184 Morris Street Ph: 902-420-0658 or 888-512-3344


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!