Facing West - The Skyline Trail is a popular hiking trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The dramatic headland cliff from the end of this trail overlooks the rugged coast. On it, you can enjoy an eagle’s view of the Cabot Trail as it winds its way down the mountain and vehicles look like toys. Skyline Trail parking lot is a 15-minute drive north of Cheticamp, NS on the Cabot Trail. The viewpoint is in a fenced-off moose exclosure, at the top of a viewing platform, about a 15-minute walk from the parking lot, on the southern part of the trail loop. The trail is a 7km return trip or 8.5km loop (1.5 - 3 hours). Main trail is suitable for most skill levels. A park pass is required for hiking during the tourist season (May to October), and can be obtained at the Parks Canada Visitor Centres in Chéticamp or Ingonish. The trail is not maintained from November to April but is still accessible for off-season activities.
This area of the Skyline Trail plays a role in a forest restoration project called Bring Back the Boreal. The health of the boreal forest in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park is in decline. Parks Canada is working with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia and other partners to test different restoration techniques to find the best ways to restore the health of the forest. One of these techniques includes planting trees in the exclosure on the Skyline Trail. Over 50,000 balsam fir and highland white spruce have been planted inside the exclosure, and the fence will keep moose from eating the young seedlings. Many of the seedlings were planted by volunteers (school groups, community organizations, and hikers on the trail). Watch the forest’s progress, and keep an eye out for wildlife!