Canada, Nova Scotia: Mabou & Celtic Shores Coastal Trail Bike or Walking Tour
An easy five day, four night exploration of Western Cape Breton Island by bicycle or on foot. It follows the traffic-free Celtic Shores Coastal Trail, which is flat and very easy for both cycling and hiking. There is also one day of hilly hiking in the Mabou Highlands.
“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?
- This is our easiest trip. The route, with one day’s exception, is flat.
- Mabou is a cultural, musical, and natural gem of Western Cape Breton Island, at the heart of surrounding rural Gaelic communities.
- The day of highland hiking is magnificent, with breath-taking views from Sight Point and Cape Mabou.
- The cycling, whether you use regular or electric bikes, is very easy, traffic-free, and gorgeous, through Port Hood and Judique along the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail.
- Uninterrupted views over the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
- Judique Celtic Music Interpretive Center.
- Red Shoe Pub frequently has live music.
- You can extend your stay or change the plan to play the world-famous Cabot links and Cabot Cliffs golf courses, with enough advance notice to secure a precious tee-time!
- The Mi’kmaq word for Mabou is Madawak – “where two or more rivers meet and flow into one larger river”.
- DAY 1: ~18km + up to 40km option
- DAY 2: ~15km + up to 40km option
- DAY 3: ~12km
- DAY 4: ~15km + up to 35km option
- DAY 5: ~15km
(Click image to enlarge)
Start: Port Hawkesbury, NS, 11:00, day one. Optional transfer ($65) departs Halifax, NS, 08:00 day one.
Finish: Port Hawkesbury, NS, 15:00, day five. Transfer returns to Halifax around 18:00.
Easy bike or hike: 18km. Extra bike challenge: up to 40km, on the Celtic Shore Coastal Trail.
Optional morning transfer (3 hours; $65) from Halifax to Port Hawkesbury to begin the ride or hike. Start in Troy or Creignish with views over the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and stop for lunch at the Judique Celtic Music Interpretive Center. The route follows the flat, traffic-free coastal trail to Port Hood, where stretches of sandy shore and (comparatively) warm waters with views of Port Hood Island make a nice setting for your arrival and first evening. LD
Hillcrest Hall Country Inn, Port Hood.
Easy bike or hike: 15km on the traffic-free Celtic Trail; Extra biking: hilly gravel road riding up to 40km.
Today’s easy route takes you along the Mabou River estuary and over a beautiful old train trestle to the musical village of Mabou – a lovely village on a natural harbour with coastal scenery rivalling Scotland’s. Exploring the quiet roads along the harbour, you will find gorgeous hillside meadows tumbling down hillsides toward the sea. A highlight is the West Mabou Beach – excellent for swimming and big views. We look forward to showing you the beauty first-hand. Tonight’s dinner may be accompanied by music. BLD
Trail hiking 12km.
The views from the hikes in the Mabou Highlands, where there is a choice between short and long hikes, are beyond description. The entire west-facing highland slope provides unparalleled views over the sea. We sometimes see whales spouting far below, and the trail-crafting has been superb. You will be affected by the natural magic of this undeveloped place, large parts of which have now been protected by the Nature Trust. Afterwards, you can choose to dine again pub-style with music at the Red Shoe or try a preview of tomorrow’s fine dining at the Glenora Distillery. BL
Easy bike or hike: 15km on the traffic-free Celtic Shores Coastal Trail. Extra cycling challenge: Up to 35km more of hilly gravel road riding to Port Ban, Magic Cove, and back.
Follow the former rail line and the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail from your haven in Mabou, through Glendyer and Glenora Falls to the first single malt distillery in North America, whose fame was hard won; see a summary of their battle here, and make your own assessment of the taste. BLD
Glenora Inn & Distillery, Glenville.
Easy: 15km ride or hike on the traffic-free trail.
Ride or hike to the terminus of the Celtic Trail in Inverness, where the beach is fabulous, the golf courses among the world’s best, the horse-racing track is a rare sight, and the small town feel is beautiful. Enjoy your lunch at one of several cafes, and perhaps a swim at the beach, before the transfer back to Port Hawkesbury or Halifax. B
All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.
2023 Guided dates:
- Jul 24-28
- Aug 7-11
- Sep 4-8
- Sep 18-22
- Oct 2-6
2024 Guided dates:
- Jun 24-28
- Jul 22-26
- Aug 5-9
- Sep 9-13
- Sep 23-27
- Oct 7-11
New dates are also welcomed for guided or private departures.
Self Guided: C 2585 (per person, double occupancy)
Includes 5 days, 4 nights, 4 breakfasts, welcome briefing, inn to inn luggage transfers, essential transfers, emergency on call support, maps, route instructions, 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: 545
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 Electric: 300
Flat bars. Trek Verve+ 2 or similar, with rear rack/trunk bag. Lowstep frames available by request.
All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.
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.
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.
GET TO THE START
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. We depart Halifax 8am, day 1. Halifax’s downtown core is located about half an hour from its airport. Taxis are readily available; Maritime Bus offers an airport express shuttle ($40 roundtrip or $22 one way); and Halifax Transit provides hourly departures on its MetroX bus service ($4.25 fare).
If you fly privately: Land at Port Hawkesbury airport (YPS). We will pick you up there ~11am, day one.
If you drive: Meet at the tourist bureau parking lot in Port Hawkesbury, NS, 11am day one. It is 300km from Halifax, 1400km from New York, and 1900km from Toronto. You can park there without charge.
Finish by 3pm, day five, in Port Hawkesbury. Freewheeling shuttle gets you back to Halifax by 6pm. It is possible to catch evening flights, but best to fly out the following morning. Contact us for hotel recommendations.
BEFORE AND AFTER
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 Cabot Trail Bike or Cape Breton Hike experience.
Join one of our other rides in Nova Scotia, or the adjacent provinces, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland .
Note that you can customize or add to this experience with golf on Cabot Links and/or Cabot Cliffs (advance reservation required), or optional sea-kayaking.
If you are at all interested in golf, we highly recommend it. The two courses are amongst the world’s best, and the views from the fairways and greens are consistently superb. Reservations normally need to be made many months in advance.
If sea-kayaking is your preference, there is amazing paddling available. You will be paddling from Mabou Harbour, and depending on weather and your group’s experience and energy, the destinations will include the gentle wetlands of the lower Mabou River, the West Mabou Beach, and the hidden stone beaches with waterfalls along the coast. The kayak option is available on demand for groups at cost dependent on the group size.
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
• Halifax’s Waverley Inn, 1266 Barrington Street Ph: 902-423-9346 or 800-565-9346
• The Halliburton Inn, 5184 Morris Street Ph: 902-420-0658 or 888-512-3344
Mabou is a cultural and musical gem of Western Cape Breton Island. The center of an abundance of natural treasures, we are excited to help you explore it. The paddling is sublime, in the protected and picturesque Mabou Harbour, and along the hidden, seldom-visited coastal beaches. The hiking is magnificent, and breath-taking in both ways. The cycling, whether you use regular or electric bikes, is easy, and simply gorgeous. The traffic-free trail along Cape Breton’s western shore can take you all the way from Mabou, through Port Hood and Judique along the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail, with superb, uninterrupted views over the Gulf of St. Lawrence as you approach the Canso Causeway. Combining such awe-inspiring scenery and out-of–the-way charm with nights in a comfortable inn, and an exceptional choice of cuisine, make this an exquisite experience and a delightful three day adventure.
You can extend your stay or change the plan to play the world-famous Cabot links and Cabot Cliffs golf courses, with enough advance notice to secure a precious tee-time. You can also spend six more days cycling the famous Cabot Trail.
The Mi’kmaq word for Mabou is Madawak – “where two or more rivers meet and flow into one larger river”. It is also the heart of surrounding rural Gaelic communities.