Take a Photo Tour of Cape Breton Island's Cabot Trail

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada

Olivia ZZ / Getty Images

Driving Cape Breton Island's Cabot Trail is a wonderful experience, as long as you can handle curvy coastal roads and steep grades. You'll be amply rewarded with spectacular views, cultural experiences and outdoor activities. Take a photo tour of the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island's most famous drive.

Guidebooks all say the same thing - driving the Cabot Trail in bad weather is no fun. Not only do you have to contend with slippery roads, you miss the views.

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Stop Your Car and Take a Closer Look

Photo © Nancy Parode

The western side of Cape Breton Island features jagged rock formations, tidepools and natural harbors. Pull over at a "look-off" point for a better view.

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Yes, You Drove on That Road

Photo © Nancy Parode

The Cabot Trail twists and climbs along the island's edges. As you look back, stand tall - you successfully navigated that ribbon of roadway.

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Stop and Enjoy Cape Breton Island's Acadian Heritage

Photo © Nancy Parode

Chéticamp is the largest town on the Acadian (western) side of Cape Breton Island. Here, an island shelters the harbor and provides a safe haven for boats.

Chéticamp is a great place to stop, stretch and explore. You can buy handmade Acadian craft items, enjoy a traditional Acadian meal and learn about traditional Acadian hooked rugs (tapis hook&3233;e).

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Saint Pierre Stands in Tribute to the Acadians' Deep Faith

Photo © Nancy Parode

This church is actually the fourth to be built in Chéticamp. The Acadians brought the building stones by sled from the island in their harbor.

The church's spire dominates the skyline of the town. You can go inside to see the altar, 1904 organ and the tomb of Father Fiset, who was pastor when this church was built in 1893.

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Main Altar of Saint Pierre Church

Photo © Nancy Parode

This traditional altar reflects the faith and strength of the Acadians.

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Side Altar Dedicated to Saint Joseph at Saint Pierre Church

Photo © Nancy Parode

Side altars are a traditional design element in Catholic churches. This altar is dedicated to Saint Joseph, the foster father of Jesus.

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Learn About Traditional Hooked Rugs at Les Trois Pignons, Chéticamp

Photo © Nancy Parode

Chéticamp is the capital of the Acadian art of tapis hookée, or hooked rugs. The museum at Les Trois Pignons showcases this traditional art form.

This rug was made for Chéticamp's bicentennial celebration in 1985.

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See the Artistry of Elizabeth LeFort at Les Trois Pignons

Photo © Nancy Parode

Elizabeth LeFort's hooked rugs hang in museums, the Vatican, Buckingham Palace and here in Chéticamp. Les Trois Pignons showcases her amazing talents.

This rug depicts the icon of the Virgin Mary and child Jesus titled "Our Mother of Perpetual Help." LeFort also created her own elaborate designs - everything from all the U.S. presidents (on one rug) to the original Mercury astronauts - and spent countless hours pulling two-ply wool through burlap backing to make each exquisite rug.

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Pull off the Trail and Take a Hike

Photo © Nancy Parode

Part of your drive takes you through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which offers hiking trails, picnic spots and campgrounds for outdoor enthusiasts.

The MacIntosh Brook trail takes you to this small waterfall. It's a nice short hike. Don't forget your bug spray - you'll need it.

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Did John Cabot Land Here?

Photo © Nancy Parode

No one really knows where Giovanni Caboto, the Italian-born explorer we know as John Cabot, first came ashore in Canada. Many historians think it was near here.

This monument and park are dedicated to John Cabot, who went on to explore Newfoundland, return to England and vanish on his next expedition.

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Could Danger Lie Ahead?

Photo © Nancy Parode

We had to see these treacherous cliffs at Cabot's Landing for ourselves.

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Not So Dangerous After All

Photo © Nancy Parode

While the so-called cliff isn't very dangerous, the winter storms on Cape Breton Island can bring strong winds.

Storms and winds bring waves, which may be why the beach at Cabot's Landing is popular with surfers.

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Visit the Northern Tip of Cape Breton Island

Photo © Nancy Parode

To reach Bay St. Lawrence and Meat Cove, you'll have to leave the Cabot Trail and veer north at Cape North. The road to Bay St. Lawrence passes Cabot's Landing.

This road is in good condition, and you'll be rewarded with views of this pretty harbor and the northern coastline. The road to Meat Cove, on the other hand, is eight kilometers of gravel, dirt and mud.

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Dramatic Views and Encroaching Fog

Photo © Nancy Parode

In this photo, you can see fog creeping over the mountains from the Atlantic side of the island.

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Visit North America's Only Gaelic College

Photo © Nancy Parode

The Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts is the only place in North American where you can study both the (Scottish) Gaelic language and Celtic culture.

You can take classes here at the college or online. Offerings include Gaelic language and song, bodhran, fiddle, dance, weaving and more.

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Discover Cape Breton Island's Scottish Heritage at the Great Hall of the Clans

Photo © Nancy Parode

This museum, located on the Gaelic College campus, explains the migration of Scottish settlers to Cape Breton Island and points beyond.

The museum features multi-media exhibits on various aspects of Scottish culture, including music and dancing.

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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Tartans - And More

Photo © Nancy Parode

The Great Hall of the Clans includes displays of various types of plaids and kilts.

If you're of Highland descent, you can find your ancestral tartan in the museum's Clan Histories exhibit. This display shows a gentleman wearing the MacKenzie tartan.

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Begin and End Your Cabot Trail Experience in Baddeck

Photo © Nancy Parode

Baddeck, known as the home of inventor Alexander Graham Bell, is a beautiful town on Bras d'Or Lake. It's the perfect place to end your Cabot Trail journey.

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