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How to Drive Cape Breton Trail, Hike Skyline Trail, Beach

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How to Drive Cape Breton Trail, Hike Skyline Trail, Beach

We are coming to CBI from Advocate Harbour in late August. We plan on 2 overnights in the area. We would like to Drive the Cape Breton Trail, Hike the Skyline Trail and go to one of the warm water beaches for an hour or two (Inverness) and go to the Red shoe. Assuming we will leave Advocate in early afternoon, we assume we will arrive at CBI around 6. Is Mabou a good base camp for that night? Anything we can see in early evening other than Red Shoe? Next morning we would go to the beach and then hike Skyline and continue driving the rest of the trail. We were thinking of staying in Baddeck that night but perhaps that would be too hard to do. Is this plan reasonable? Would we be better starting in Baddeck and driving counter clockwise? My reasoning to not do this was that there might be more to do/see in Mabout in the late afternoon.

Comments/suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank you!


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1. Re: How to Drive Cape Breton Trail, Hike Skyline Trail, Beach

I think you are going in the right direction for what you want to do.

Here are maps with the very optimistic driving times. You need to add extra time for traffic and construction as well as any stops you make.


So it would likely be six hours from Advocate Harbour to Mabou. You plan to leave in the afternoon. By the time you get to where you are staying and then to the Red Shoe for a late supper that will be your day.


Your drive from Mabou around the Cabot Trail to Baddeck, allowing for the many scenic look-offs, lunch, etc. will likely be around seven hours. So you will be needing a very early start to also have a beach trip and the Skyline Trail hike. Perhaps somewhere closer to Ingonish might be more realistic for that night.

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2. Re: How to Drive Cape Breton Trail, Hike Skyline Trail, Beach

You will not have time to go to the beach hike the Skyline , and travel full circle to Baddeck all in one day unless you put in a very long day . Mabou to The Skyline is close to a 2 hour drive, the Skyline takes 2 1/2 to 3 hours, then from the Skyline to travel around the Trail to Baddeck would be close to 3 hours , and you haven't been to the beach yet .

Mabou is a small town ,does have a beach , but the better beaches are at Inverness and Margaree Harbour .

The Red Shoe is where you find some CB celtic musicians .

Overall, I think it is always best to do your Cape Breton leg first and then do the mainland in a sort of a flow traffic pattern and go to the Bay of Fundy along the coast by that Windsor coast or the Advocate coast .

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3. Re: How to Drive Cape Breton Trail, Hike Skyline Trail, Beach

We were there last Summer, driving up from Boston and your plan is very ambitious. I would follow the suggestions above to slow it down a bit or else your day will be very, very long. We LOVED the Red Shoe, MUCH nicer than we thought it might be and went several times (I do play the music a bit and enjoyed seeing real pros do their thing). I beg to differ about the beaches a little bit as we went to the Provincial Park in West Mabou and it was probably one of the prettiest places I have been in my life! You can hike a fairly long walking path there and there were hiking trails through the woods also.

On the other side, the only town we found with "stuff" to do is Baddeck which is on a large lake. This is a very low key island overall so understand that everything is very relaxed and rural and there are not tons of options for places to eat and nightlife. No complaints, but just be prepared to be in a relax mode while you are up there.

4. Re: How to Drive Cape Breton Trail, Hike Skyline Trail, Beach

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