One of my favourite places to be is Pollet's Cove. It is a 4 hr hike from Pleasant Bay and begins at the end of a long dirt road by the Buddhist Monastery. For complete directions see: http://www.cabottrail.com/info/pcove/
This 12 mi hike begins with Heartbreak Hill. The hike is quite advanced going from 0 to 1200ft & the name of this hill says it all.
Somewhere along the way, someone hung a swing from a tree. It's fun! Weeee!
You will get to Otter Brook first. Many mistake it for Pollet's Cove. When you get to Pollet's Cove, you'll know you have arrived. The wild cows and horses will tip you off. Be careful because the cows might trample your camp. Try shouting, "Get out of here you big piece of pork" while you bang pots together.
If you keep going past Pollet's Cove you'll get to Meat Cove. I wouldn't recommend this unless you really know what you're doing as the path is very overgrown and you could easily get lost.
The only other way to access the cove is by boat. If you're into kayaking you might enjoy this route.
I have done this trek four times and stayed for multiple days each time. I would recommend preparing for an overnight stay. You definitely need proper hiking gear (boots, packs, tents, etc.)
The rivers are fairly clean to drink from once you are there. There is no need to bring water in. You might want to use purification tablets (but I never have) with all the cow dung around. There are also well-defined fire areas and lots of drifwood for kinlin. There are no bathroom facilities, however, so if you are travelling with a large group a trench may need to be dug.
While you are there you can hike up some of the hills to enjoy the wildlife. There's also a
foundation of old farm house. There's a great deal of clay along the cliffs if you would like a souvenier.
Pollet's Cove is protected property & not part of the park. Please take your garbage with you. It is quite private once you're in & you'll only come across other travellers once in a blue moon.
Getting to Mary Ann Falls is an easy 5-10 minute walk. As you walk along, you'll first see the falls from a bridge, then you continue on and descend a set of stairs and platforms. To get down to the swimming area or to get an even better view of the falls, you'll need to climb down the rocks.
This is a nice spot to take a refreshing swim. Much to my horror, my kids climbed up the rocks to enjoy a free fall into the water, but they've only done what thousands of kids did before them. If you feel the need to do this, make sure you know where the safest place is to jump. The big rocks on the further side make a great place to have a picnic or to sit and enjoy all the good things in life.
Mary Ann Falls is also part of a fairly easy 6.5km cross-country trail. On a nice winter day, you can't beat the beauty and tranquility of the area. Parks Canada has a website that describes this trail and others in the area: http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ns/cbreton/activ/activ6_E.asp#02.
Mary Ann Falls is about 30km north of Ingonish, in Broad Cove.
There was nothing fancy about the small communities that I passed through along the coast as I made my way north. I hit the water at L'Archeveque, then Framboise, Fourchu and Gabarus before I again headed inland. The buildings were often small and weather-beaten or abandoned completely like this small example at Gabarus Lake. All the ports that I explored had their boats pulled up out of the water and there was no sign of life. In fact, I hardly saw a single person either walking or driving for the first 150 km of my trip, until I emerged back out onto Highway 4. It was not as I had expected, but it was very interesting to just drive slowly along at 70 kph taking in the various sights in this part of the world that I had never before seen! At one point, I was not far from the famous Fort Louisbourg National Historic site, but decided that I would save that for a summer visit on another day! The French place-names are a carryover from those early years when this area was a major French stronghold in the battle with England for control of North America. Despite this, I also stopped at a cairn erected to commemorate the later arrival of hardy Scots immigrants to this part of the world - a place where Gaelic is still spoken today!
Okay, Niagara Falls it is not but it is beautiful. The water is so full of minerals, it appears brown. And, it is cold! But, the views are beautiful and if you can stay in the water long enough to get used to the temperature, it's a great swim. If you are able to follow the stream from the bottom of the falls for a short distance, there are some small pools also great for swimming and the rocks along the edge make for perfect lounge chairs to enjoy the sun.
It's a little off the beaten track in that it is not as well marked as other areas of Highlands Nation Park but is on the north side of the village of Ingonish Beach and is worth the drive.
Fishing Cove is reached via a ten mile trail that runs through a dense old forest along a river. It is a 1500 foot drop and you have to always keep in mind that you have to come back up from whence you came. It is a four to six hour return trip but leave time for some relaxation and a snack on the scenic beach. Or better yet, bring down your camping gear and spend the night. You never know what you might find on the hike up the next morning. ;)
On June 21st a.m. we left Baddeck and drove up the Cabot trail along the coast. Beautiful ocean views and thrilling ride. Drove up Big Smokey Mountain a climb of 725 ft. With a view for many miles out over the ocean. We arrived at Igonish and had lunch then started back and headed for Louisbourg. What a Ride down the mountain ( 2nd gear to save the brakes is a must )We arrived there near 4pm.