When I first heard the words, Meat Cove a bizarre vision of a ghastly coastline covered in dead creatures entered my mind. I was left to wonder why anyone would want to go there or why someone would name a place such a thing. After a little research my thoughts about the name are historically accurate, but after seeing only a few photos of the place I knew that I had to see this stunning landscape for myself. I needed to witness this place where the sharp cliffs rise up out of the ocean’s crashing waves and transform into rolling green hills. Those hills beckoned me to come and hike them. After a little research, the hill mountain to climb was clear. It was the one that bore the town’s name. We were going to this remote spot and we were hiking Meat Cove Mountain.
Location: The Northern Tip of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
Getting to Meat Cove
Getting to the trailhead for Meat Cove Mountain is part of the adventure. It is located at the very northern tip of Nova Scotia on the island of Cape Breton. Meat Cove is the last small town at the end of a somewhat difficult dirt road. The 6-mile-long dirt road is in turn found at the end of the islands asphalt. This is a spot that is out of the way and yet a must-visit spot for anyone traveling this part of the world.
Meat Cove Campground
The best spot to take in the beauty of Meat Cove is the campground. It sits perched precariously on the cliffs lining the Atlantic Ocean and a stay here is worth the journey itself. The campground is considered to be the best one in Nova Scotia and is consistently ranked in Canda’s top 10. It is stunningly beautiful.
The Meat Cove Mountain Trailhead
The trailhead for Meat Cove Mountain is nothing more than a small pullout and only big enough for two vehicles at most. It is located on the left side of the road as it approaches the small town of Meat Cove. If you arrive in town you have gone just a little too far. There is a sign at the trailhead that simply reads “Mountain Trail.” If you arrive too the small pullout being full, more parking is available at the Meat Cove Welcome Center. The welcome center is located a few hundred feet down the road.
Hiking Meat Cove Mountain
The initial ascent of Meat Cove Mountain is a slog. To say that the trail is steep is an understatement. It rises 850′ in just over 1/2 of a mile. It is steep, strenuous and a little dangerous. There is very little trail construction found on this mountainside. The path is dirt and rock surrounded by thick woods. There are no steeps. The only form of “construction” to be found is that of a rope strewn between verticle pieces of rebar and this kindness is only available in the steepest sections.
The First Mountain Destination
The destination for Meat Cove Mountain trail is three-fold. The top of the initial ascent tappers off at the top of the tree line. The trail then enters into a zone of brush filled with berries. We saw a lot of bear scat in this area and can assume they visit frequently. Quickly the trail arrives at a three-way split. Directly ahead there is a large rock that could be described as the first destination. From atop this rock, hikers are rewarded with views up one of the highland’s valleys. A deep cut into the earth that curves around the peak on its way to Meat Cove and the Ocean beyond.
The Second Destination to the Right
The trail to the right first leads up a ridge where glimpses of the Atlantic Ocean can be found. However, the best views are located at the end of this spur. The trail descends back down into the trees and at the end, it emerges onto a small slanted overlook. This spot has the best views of Meat Cove and the Atlantic Ocean.
The Third “Left” Destination – Meat Cove Mountain
Taking the left path back at the junction leads hikers up a moderately steep ridgeline to the top of Meat Cove Mountain. Hikers are rewarded with different viewpoints into the deep valley below as well as views back down the ridgeline. In addition, there are views that stretch out to the left (east) of the trail. Here the landscape slopes gently but continuously down towards the Atlantic Ocean.
A Hike Up Meat Cove Mountain
This amazing trail that leads adventurous souls to the summit of Meat Cove Mountain is a hidden gem at the tip of Nova Scotia. It isn’t an easy trail to find nor hike but rewards those who succeed with stunning views of the Cape Breton Highlands and its rugged coastline.
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