North River Falls

When it comes to hiking trails in Cape Breton, there is certainly no shortage of trails of varying lengths and levels all over the island.  However, there is one trail that many people neglect because it is a bit off the beaten track and somewhat hard to find.  North River Falls are located deep in the woods of central Cape Breton not far from St. Anne’s Bay.  Not many people go to the falls because not many people will take the 19-kilometre return hike into them.  For those who have done the hike, they know it is well worth it.

The trail to North River Falls can be found by turning off the Trans-Canada (105) onto exit 11, the road leading through St. Anne’s.  If you pass the Gaelic College on the right-hand side of the road, you are going the right way.  Keep driving until you find the sign for North River Provincial Park on the left and drive for another 3.5 miles on that gravel road.

The trail is easily found in the parking lot and there are signs and maps to tell you how long it is, the route the trail takes and other important information about the trail.  It will take about a minimum of seven hours to complete this trail.  It starts out fairly easy but it does get a bit difficult in some places, especially after a heavy rainfall.  It is common to see fallen branches, trees blocking the path, very muddy and slippery patches and fallen rocks but all-in-all, the trail is passable and mostly flat.  The walk is quite leisurely despite the condition of the trail itself; tall trees, distant views, a flowing river and the sounds of the various birds and mammals of the area make the North River Falls trail a perfect escape into nature.

The waterfalls themselves are the tallest in Nova Scotia.  There are ledges and large rocks in which to climb on and get a better view and one can even wade in the pool below the falls.  If you want to spend some time in the area of the falls, it is important that you start the hike very early in the morning to allow for time to get back to your car before the sun sets.
Andrea MacEachern is a freelance travel writer and amateur photographer living in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

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