Some of the best weather for hiking in Cape Breton is in September, making it a perfect time of year for the annual Hike the Highlands Festival. Outdoors enthusiasts can choose from the festival’s daily schedule of 23 guided hikes from September 10 to September 19. The hikes will be led by a diverse team including local residents, arbourists, meteorologists, naturalists, and historians.
The guided hikes offer something for every difficulty level; some trails are on even terrain and groomed trails, while other hikes offer a suitable challenge to seasoned hikers. The Bog trail takes hikers on a half-kilometre boardwalk through a highland plateau bog at the top of French Mountain, allowing hikers to observe a variety of fascinating wildlife and rare plants while minimizing impact on a delicate ecosystem. Meanwhile, the ever popular Pollett’s Cove trail offers challenging terrain on a day’s worth hiking in the North Highlands’ spectacular scenery starting on the Pleasant Bay coastline.
One of the featured trails will be the new Vieux du Cap Rouge, opened on August 15. The trail will also be featured in the Hike Nova Scotia fall hikes schedule, along with Sugar Loaf Mountain. The Meat Cove Mountain hike scheduled for September 12 has been cancelled due to recent flash flood conditions and to allow the community time to rebuild infrastructure.
Opening ceremonies on September 10 will include a hikers’ safety presentation by Erich Munez. This year’s daily schedule of evening workshops includes a nature and landscape photography workshop by professional photographer Wally Hayes, a presentation by Suzanne Lambert on the area’s species of birds, and three different workshops featuring select hikes in England and Scotland. To relax after a day of hiking, Ingonish’s Thirsty Hiker Pub will have nightly entertainment.
Registration can be completed online at hikethehighlandsfestival.com, or in person at the Hike the Highlands headquarters in the conference room of the main building at the Glenghorm Beach Resort in Ingonish. The workshops have a participation cap of 25 and the hiking events require a guide for every 20 hikers, so early registration is encouraged. A good portion of the hikes are situated in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park requiring an entry pass. Combined park passes and festival passes are available for purchase. Single event, day passes, festival passes and family rates are available.
For more information about the festival, visit hikethehighlandsfestival.com