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Cape Breton Hiking: Kalapa Valley Trail

We took a staff hiking trip in late May, travelling north on the Cabot Trail toward Ingonish to explore a hidden hiking gem recommended by Dr. Paul and Barbara. This Kalapa Valley Hiking Trail is at the base of the Cape Smokey ski hill, just across the road from the Ingonish Harbour. The scenic drive is approximately 38 kilometres, or half an hour by car, from Cabot Shores.

What to Expect when Hiking Kalapa Valley

The Kalapa Valley Trail is well-suited for both those beginning and those experienced at hiking. Starting as a forest-lined path, the hiking trail eventually opens into a wide, grassy field, where a series of buildings display prayer flags in their windows. Continuing along the trail, we followed another forested path in our ascent up to the waterfall. The incline was entirely manageable, and we were rewarded with a beautiful view of the falls for our efforts (see image above). The rocks serve as a serene place to meditate, and on especially warm ways, the falls and streams are perfect for cooling off. Prayer flags were strung between the trees and an Ashe (meaning “cut through the open”) post was tucked between the trees.

After our descent, we went to see the Peddler’s Bridge. Built in 2018, this structure has cement footings and heavy lumber to withstand the forces of flooding. There was careful consideration for the environment and religious practices when building this structure. We continued hiking back the way we came and harvested rhubarb for preserves before making our way home.

Although we didn’t see much more than a garter snake and a few birds, Barbara and Dr. Paul recounted how on past visits, they had seen moose running up the sides of the hiking trail. As is true with most hiking trails along the Cabot Trail, hikers should be wary and respectful of wildlife.

History of Kalapa Valley

Exploring open fields at Kalapa Valley

The Kalapa Valley Trail has a rich cultural history.  Proclaimed the Sacred Centre of Shambhala by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche in 1979, the Kalapa Valley held special spiritual significance, becoming a Shambhala pilgrimage site in 1995. Six Ashe posts, three torii gates, and a shrine were erected around the park in 1998. Known as The Valley of Spirit, Eva Wong, master of feng shui, predicted Kalapa could energize Shambhala centres around the world.

The Kalapa Valley Hiking Trail is an inspiring place for spiritualist and hiker alike, boasting beautiful views and palpable spiritual energy. Be sure to ask Dr. Paul about your opportunity to experience the Kalapa Valley Trail on one of the many guided hikes he leads for guests each summer.

The information used in this blog post was retrieved from Kalapa Valley: The Sacred Centre of Shambala.