Okay, I have a bias towards waterfalls, spectacular trail-side views of water, and old growth forests. Duration: 25 minutes to 5 hours. So here they are: #1 Indian Brook Falls; # 2 North River Falls, #3 Black Brook/Falls. And it may be winter, but I am thinking of these waterfalls during all kinds of weather…
1. Indian Brook Falls Hike (challenging)
The Cabot Trail goes along the coast on the east (Atlantic) side of Cape Breton Island.
Take the Cabot Trail to the village of Indian Brook. A landmark the bridge over Indian Brook. The Trail starts on the northwest side of the Brook.
During the heat of summer, you can do the hike in and alongside the Brook. In early spring, enter the trail, as I said on the northwest side of the bridge. Climb alongside the Brook. Descend to the first of two waterfalls.
You will see eagles flying up from Church Pond, just below the brook, often with fish in their mouths for their young. As you follow the brook there are great swimming holes and wild strawberries along the sides of the brook. Some folks canoe or kayak until the water gets too shallow and the rocks too slippery even to portage.
The Indian Falls are truly breathtaking. Duration: 4-5 hours rountrip depending on how often you stop for wild strawberries, swims or the occasional photo.
2. North River Falls (moderate but long– about 16km round trip)
South and west on the Cabot Trail is the North River Wilderness, actually part of the protected Cape Breton Highlands. Turn off the Cabot Trail onto Oregon Road and there is a clearly marked entrance to the Trail. There is a handy placard and map of the area, and local maps that you can take for free.
Be sure to wear good boots and to be ready for a swim anytime between May and mid October (if you are hearty). The Trail goes through an exquisite forest and winds around though some beautiful land, some private but mostly “Crown” land. In fact the Trail has been re-routed in recent years but is well marked and easy to follow.
The hike takes you above a raging brook that has some beautiful spots for resting, picnicking and even sunning yourself (dare I say taking a nap?)
Once you arrive at the North River Falls you will be ready for a swim. Like Indian Brook Falls, the water is almost black but refreshing and clean. Bring your camera, the hike is long but breathtaking. Duration 3.5-5 hours. Moderate in difficulty.
3. Black Brook Falls/Marion Falls (two easy ones for the price of one)
Black Brook is actually a beach on the Atlantic with a brook feeding into it. The walk is short and it is mostly along the beach which is several km north of the village of Ingonish.
You can swim in the salty ocean and then shower in a small freshwater waterfall.
Hike up around the falls and there are some nice trails to follow above and along the ocean.; Not far is Marion Falls (a short drive 4 minute drive), where you can climb down from one set of falls to another. These hikes are easy Duration: Fifteen to twenty minutes for each location. Once you arrive at the falls, it is worth lingering around and exploring around the rocks. More tourists here, but a nice spot and you can really experience the fresh air, the huge rocks and the relaxing sounds of the waterfalls.