Cape Breton’s Hike the Highlands Festival by DebMartell

Hikers are usually all season animals (except those who hibernate in the winter….). My favorite time of year for hiking is the fall – the crisp autumn air instead of the sun burning your skin, and the pristine sound of crashing waves instead of flies buzzing in your ears. Hike the Highlands Festival, a signature event for Nova Scotia is held each year in September on beautiful Cape Breton Island. Cape Breton, a busy destination awash with tourists in the summer has plenty of room for visitors in the off season.
The festival started with a small number of committed local organizers, me being one, and of course, people who love to hike. Much like a large family gathering – hikers and festival volunteers reunite each year. Locals and “come from aways” book their vacation around the event. As word gets out the family grows and you will meet hikers of all nationalities.
I go to the festival to hike and connect with nature and friends. In following my life’s paths, I ensure some of them are dirt. How long you stay depends on your stamina and time. As Stephen Wright says, “everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.”
Newcomers are “blown away” not just by the wind on top of some of the mountains but also by the quality of the trails. Hiking in the Cape Breton Highlands takes you to places and vistas that you couldn’t get to by other modes of travel. Watch and listen for birds and wildlife. Cape Breton Island has the largest population of eagles east of Alaska and moose are a common sighting. Being at the top of Franey, Peak Tenerife or Meat Cove Mountain can be a spiritual experience with the smell of fresh salt air, and breath taking scenery. You quickly forget your aching muscles at the summit. It is worth every step. To find out more about this extraordinary event (and I’m not just saying that cause I started it) get in touch or go to It is time some of you headed east anyway…Hope to see you on the trails.



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