Mabou Rivers Trail Section 4
The next section of Celtic Shores Coastal Trail is the Mabou Rivers Trail Section, named for the three different water systems that adorn the trail to different degrees.The first 4kms are unsurfaced before the tread becomes excellent for the next 13 kms through the village of Mabou.
The Mabou Rivers Trail is section four of the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail, the TCT, and the IAT, and can be accessed from the highway at four points. Starting at Civic # ____ on Route 19 about halfway between Port Hood and Mabou at Trail Marker 55.Parking is available on the left side of the road at this junction. Entering here you will travel several kilometers through a canopied section, but soon the trail opens up and meanders alongside the South West Mabou River for several kilometers. This section of the trail is very pretty in all seasons, and the perfect mixture of topography, vegetation, and river life makes it easy to create any variety of trail memories. Some of the meadows that are adjacent to the trail here were once valuable farmland for the numerous homesteads that were found on the upland side of the trail. Each of these farms had its own road down to the meadow, and many of these roads are still visible.
The combination of river, meadows and woodlands makes for an abundance of wildlife and interesting vegetation. If you don’t see a bald headed eagle soaring overhead, you might spot one perched in a riverside pine tree. A mother merganser with her brood is a likely sighting on the river, along with Canada Geese and black ducks. Another bird that you are more likely to hear but not see along the trail is the pileated woodpecker. This large, red crested, black and white bird makes an unforgettable hammering sound as it chisels large holes in trees looking for ants, its favourite food. The most common larger mammals are muskrats and beavers and at low tide it is possible to observe muskrat openings along the banks.
There are interesting plants found along the trail. In spring it is likely one will see bloodroot, a member of the poppy family, a small white flower, the root and stem of which have a red latex that was used as a dye for baskets or clothing. The river side is also rich in fiddleheads, late May or early June are the best times to pick these nutritious plants. In summer a small section of the trail is one of the few places one will find milkweed. You will know this tall flower by its thick, pink clusters which are quite fragrant.
The next trail junction is off Route 19 at the West Mabou/Little Mabou/Colindale road. There is a very scenic parking area where one can take in the sweeping views of the Mabou Harbour and mountains while resting at the picnic tables . The adjacent West Mabou Road takes you to the West Mabou Beach Provincial Park, Ceilidh Cottages and Campground, and the year round Saturday night Square Dances at the West Mabou Hall.
After the trail leaves this beautiful roadside location, it parallels Route 19, passing the local high school which is also the site of splendid Strathspey Place, a 400 seat performing arts centre. The trail continues on for about another kilometer leading you behind some houses and businesses until it reaches its third junction on Route 19. At this point you are very close to the Mabou River Inn and Duncreigan Inn. Leaving the trail here you are a short walk into the picturesque village of Mabou, with it numerous facilities such as the Mabou Marina, Fiddle Stitches Fabric shop, Shining Waters Bakery and Café, An Drochaid (Museum), The Red Shoe Pub, Freshmart Grocery and liquor store and The Mull restaurant. In and around the village there are gift shops at Nest, the Shrine and Mabou Art Gallery, and in season, the Sunday Farmer’s Market.
Once back on the trail at the Mabou River Inn, the trail again hugs the inner part of Mabou inlet and river for about four kilometers. The upper part of this section of the trail is locally referred to as the “landing” as this is where boats used to land cargo in days gone by, before the present village became the main area. Eagles are most common along here, and there is a large eagle nest just off the trail to the left in a large tree beside the river, about one kilometer before you reach Route 252 intersection. The Mabou Rivers Trail continues through the settlement of Glendyer historically known for its grist mill and the scene of several tragic train accidents over the century. The Mabou Rivers Section continues to Blackstone where you can travel about two kilometers off the trail to the Glenora Distillery, The home of “Glen Breton”, North America’s famous and only single malt whiskey.
About Mabou Village
Mabou is a small rural community located on the west coast of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Well known for its living history, Mabou is the place to be if you wish to listen and dance to Celtic Music, immerse yourself in Gaelic Culture, hike one of our many trails, or relax and take in our picturesque beachscape. Mabou is a village renowned for its people, hospitality, beauty and cultural strength. Whether your goal is to refresh and relax or to let loose and have a blast, Mabou is a must for your next getaway. Your only difficulty will be leaving!
“There’s Mabou, then there’s its surroundings! Within a few kilometres of Mabou is a network of cousin communities including Mabou Harbour, Mabou Coal Mines, West Mabou and the Glencoes, each of which offers its own special delights. Whether you enjoy square dancing or swimming at West Mabou, hiking through the stunning beauty of Mabou Harbour or Mabou Coal Mines where a maze of trails leads you high into the Mabou Highlands, or square dancing at Glencoe Mills, there are many reasons to stop and stay. Mabou’s soundtrack may be the fiddle or the songs of its most famous family, The Rankins, but the village’s setting is in itself a delight to view or to explore, picturesque and photogenic. Surrounded by hills and a river (which is actually an inlet from the Northumberland Strait), this beautiful village was first inhabited by the Mi’kmaq Indians. The Mi’kmaq word for Mabou is Madawak, meaning where two or more rivers meet and flow into one larger river” -2011 Visitors Guide to the Sunset Side of Cape Breton