VISITING CAPE MABOU WILDERNESS AREA
Published on Nov 25 2019
Photo by Irwin Barrett
Our adventure began by making our way along an old dirt road to the Sight Point Trailhead. As we passed the trailhead sign and entered Mabou Highlands, I felt as if we were stepping into another world. From the wide man-made road, we started along a small footpath, overgrown with roots and rocks, and surrounded by thick walls of colorful trees on both sides.
Only a short distance away, we encountered a stream in an area of old-growth forest. I closed my eyes to absorb the sounds of the trickling water, the delicate breeze and the occasional crinkling leaf blown from its branch to the cluttered forest floor where we stood. It was a special experience to feel so secluded in nature, only minutes from civilization.
This was my first visit to the Mabou Highlands. I was there as part of the CPAWS-NS team for a planned visit with the legendary Nova Scotia photographer, Irwin Barrett. We were there in October, just after the BIG conservation announcement by the Nova Scotia government, declaring these lands a legally-protected wilderness area.
The new protected area at Cape Mabou covers 1,458 hectares of wilderness in the Mabou Highlands between the communities of Mabou and Inverness. Known for its large tracts of intact habitat, old-growth hardwood forest, and stunning vistas, this wilderness area would not have come to be if not for the hard work and determination of the nearby Mabou community.
I was so impressed by the extensive trail system in the Mabou Highlands. The Cape Mabou Trail Club maintains an outstanding network of trails stretching 35km into the Cape Mabou Wilderness Area on public lands as well as private conservation lands owned by Nature Conservancy Canada and the Nova Scotia Nature Trust. Interestingly, the Nature Trust announced another 1,500 acres of protected property in the Mabou Highlands this summer, so there’s even more to celebrate!
It was a great day on the trail. Walking along MacKinnon’s Brook Trail, I chatted with Irwin, while taking in the spectacular views and watching the fishing boats scattered just off the coastline. We even caught a glimpse of PEI off in the distance. At our lunch stop, Chris spotted some moose scat on the trail ahead reminding us that we were not the only ones enjoying the area.
However, it was not all easy walking to get that perfect Irwin Barrett photo. The second portion of our hike was along the Beinn Biorach or Steep Mountain Trail, which as the name suggests, was a very steep climb!! But the panoramic view at the top was well worth the trip. The sun was setting gradually over the ocean as we reached the summit, casting a warm golden glow over the rolling hills of Cape Mabou Wilderness Area in the distance.
Looking over this beautiful landscape as Irwin snapped pictures on his camera, it’s easy to see why this place was a high priority for conservation. I’m so grateful that this new protected area has now been officially established, so that more adventurous hikers can make the climb and take in this stunning view in the future. Not only that, but this area can stay wild for all the species that live here, including the coywolf pack we encountered on our hike back to the trailhead in the dark.
Congratulations to the Mabou community and all the other people who worked so hard to see Cape Mabou Wilderness Area protected! We are so pleased for your victory at CPAWS-