Reader Ride: Nova Scotia, Canada - The Cabot Trail

Text: Jeff Hower • Photography: Jeff Hower, Dave Nyholm, Tom Petrillo

The shrill announcement is loud and awakes us from a sound, gently rocking sleep to proclaim we are one hour away from docking at North Sydney, Nova Scotia. Four of us, on adventure motorcycles, are traveling on the North Sydney-Port Aux Basques ferry from Newfoundland to the northeast coast of Nova Scotia. Our plan is to ride the famed Cabot Trail, which skirts the province’s northern tip before we head west and back toward the USA.

The motorcycles are first to both board and depart the ferry. There are a couple of shiny clean V-Stroms waiting to go the other way. We don’t have the heart to tell them that the toilets were not working on the 8-hour trip over. An obviously well-traveled guy on a big Harley pulls up to my filthy BMW GSA and asks about the Trans-Labrador Highway, which we had just completed. I suggest that his bike is probably not the best selection to travel hundreds of gravel miles, but his reply is that he has done Alaska, so I wish him well.

We’re off, and it is sunny and warm for a change. We meander past signs announcing Big Bras d’Or, and my juvenile mind wonders what that is all about. Soon the addiction peaks and it’s time for morning coffee and a Danish. A quick break at Coastal Waters Restaurant in Ingonish allows us to purchase the lone Cabot Trail T-shirt, which can only be obtained by being there on two wheels. We pass a lot of craft stores, and I find it amusing that one sign portrays golf balls and block ice for sale. Now that’s a combination I wouldn’t guess.

On the recommendation of a park ranger at the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, we take a short side excursion to Neil’s Harbour, which follows along the ocean to the Chowder House. This is where we witness meals being caught as we feast on fresh seafood. This is a rarely traveled twisty road to the fishing village of White Point where some very honest people live. One of us loses our wallet here, and someone goes out of their way to see that it is returned intact even after we leave the area. It seems that everyone knows everyone in this neck of the woods, and a group of four dirty motorcycles isn’t hard to track down.

A quick stop at the grocery co-op nets us an evening meal of cheese, salami, crackers, and beer, which we pack up and take to the campground at Meat Cove. It is here that we camp at the edge of a cliff above the ocean where there were, reportedly, two casualties from falling off the precipice in the last two years. This is our most awesome site. The weather is perfect, and the views are amazing as we watch various sea critters fly, swim, and dive in the ocean below, and we dine on our modest supper. A roaring campfire sets the final scene for an epic day. Ah! Life is good.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the January/February 2014 back issue.