Canada is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. The Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia is no exception. This 300km scenic route is a must-see destination for cycling enthusiasts. Your pedalling efforts will be rewarded by:
- breathtaking views of the Atlantic coast
- picturesque fishing villages
- rugged terrain
Here, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide to cycling the Cabot Trail. Ready to pedal your way through one of Canada’s most iconic destinations?
Planning Your Cabot Trail Cycling Trip
The best time to visit
From June to October, when the weather is milder, the road conditions are better. The peak season for tourism is from July to August, so expect more crowds during these months. September and October offer a quieter experience, but it may be cooler and wetter.
Planning a cycling trip on the Cabot Trail requires some preparation, including:
- choosing the right bike
- packing essentials
- booking accommodations
It’s recommended to use a road bike or a hybrid bike with wider tires to handle the hills and rough terrain. Also, pack comfortable clothing, proper footwear, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a first-aid kit.
Booking accommodations in advance is highly recommended, especially during peak season. There are plenty of options, including campsites, bed and breakfasts, and hotels. Some accommodations even offer shuttle services for cyclists.
Make your cycling adventure in Cabot Trail budget-friendly! You can do this by going camping rather than making a hotel reservation. Alternatively, stay in local hostels or motels.
Eating out can add up quickly, so consider packing your own food and snacks. But make sure to dedicate a budget to trying out local cuisines and other specialities!
Finally, consider renting a bike instead of bringing your own. For one, it can be more cost-effective, especially if travelling from afar. Many bike rental companies also offer shuttle services, so it’s a win-win.
The route on Cabot Trail includes some steep hills and long stretches of road. Thus, cycling there requires a certain level of physical fitness.
To prepare for this trip, build your endurance and strength through regular exercise. Start training at least three months before the big day to give your body enough time to adjust.
Endurance training should include longer rides of at least 60 minutes. You may gradually build up to several hours at a time. Hills and intervals can also be incorporated to simulate the terrain on the Cabot Trail. Strength training can include exercises that target the legs, core, and upper body.
First-aid kit and emergency contact information
Ensure your first-aid kit contains bandages, pain relievers, repellents, and so on. Plus, any personal medication recommended by your healthcare provider. Additionally, it’s wise to bring a small tool kit to address any unexpected bike issues.
Emergency contact information should include the phone numbers of the following:
- local emergency services
- your accommodation (the campsite manager, hotel, hostel or motel staff)
- any emergency contacts back home
Have this information stored on your phone and share it with a travel companion or someone back home.
Cycling the Cabot Trail
The Cabot Trail is a 298 km (185 miles) scenic route in Nova Scotia, Canada. There are several routes you can take, but the most popular one is counterclockwise.
Recommended routes, distances, and elevation
The full Cabot Trail loop is approximately 298 km (185 miles) long. It can take anywhere from 3 to 7 days to complete depending on your pace and fitness level. There are shorter route options available, such as the western loop. It’s 106 km (66 miles), while the eastern loop is 115 km (71 miles).
The elevation on the Cabot Trail varies, with some hills reaching over 400 metres (1312 feet). The total elevation gain for the full loop is approximately 3,970 metres (13,025 feet).
There are several must-see attractions, such as the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It covers over 950 km2 (580 square miles) and features many hiking trails and campsites.
Other popular attractions include:
- Skyline Trail, which offers stunning views of the coast.
- Cheticamp River Trail, which is a scenic 10 km (6 miles) route that follows the Cheticamp River.
Pacing yourself, staying hydrated, and fuelling up with the right foods
Start your ride early in the day to avoid the midday heat, and take frequent breaks to rest and rehydrate. Carry plenty of water and electrolyte drinks to keep yourself hydrated. Pack high-energy snacks such as nuts, dried fruits, and energy bars to fuel your ride. It’s also important to consume a balanced meal after a long ride to help your body recover.
Don’t let the thrilling experience block your way from potential risks and hazards. These may include wildlife encounters and bad weather conditions.
Moose and black bears are commonly found in the area. Moreover, the weather conditions can be unpredictable, e.g. with fog, rain, and wind. To ensure your safety, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Wear reflective gear. Wear reflective clothing, especially if you plan to cycle during low-light conditions.
- Use hand signals. Use hand signals to indicate your intentions to other cyclists and road users. This will help prevent accidents and improve communication.
- Follow traffic rules. These include speed limits, stop signs, and yield signs. Be aware of other vehicles on the road and give them plenty of space.
- Watch out for the wildlife. Keep an eye out for them on the trail and be prepared to react appropriately. Slow down and avoid sudden movements or loud noises that could startle them.
- Check the weather forecast before starting your ride. Bring the right clothing and gear to protect yourself from whatever the condition is.
Have a safe and enjoyable cycling experience on the Cabot Trail!
The Cabot Trail is a must-see destination for any cycling enthusiast or nature lover. With its breathtaking scenery and challenging terrain, it offers a truly unforgettable experience. By following our tips, you can plan and prepare for your adventure with confidence and ease.
So what are you waiting for? Embark on this once-in-a-lifetime journey and witness the beauty of Nova Scotia yourself!