The Ceilidh Coastal Trail-Section 1
The first kilometer of Trail is gravel trail, single track before entering a two kilometer “hike-able” tidal washed section. This section is a “hike a bike” section”, but the scenery is amazing with the Strait of Canso on one side and beautiful Long Pond on the inland side. Cyclists are recommended to access the trail at kilometer 4 at Troy from Route #19.
The Celtic Shores Coastal Trail begins at the Gateway to Cape Breton Island, at the Trans Canada Trail Pavilion and Trailhead Kiosk at the Canso Canal. This first 20 plus km. section is the Ceilidh Coastal Trail Leg between Port Hastings and Long Point. The trail is a multi use trail and is the first of the five community trails between Port Hastings and Inverness. Access is along the right side of the chain link fence surrounding the Canso Canal property. It continues along what is known as a ‘parallel bar’ which is a long, thin ribbon of sand, gravel and rocks. This was formed by the strong tidal currents moving back and forth through the Strait of Canso from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Atlantic Ocean before the completion of the Canso Causeway in 1955. This long strip of land, referred to as Ghost Beach on old maps, formed Long Pond.
The first km. of Trail is gravel trail, single track. The next 4 ½ km of Trail is undeveloped rail bed. The strength of the tides and winter storms continue to make maintaining this first part of the former railway bed which was constructed between 1899 and 1901 difficult. It’s worth the walk though if you take your time as you will often have a front row view of ocean going tankers, tugs, sailboats, yachts and barges approaching the Canso Canal locks. Depending on the season, you may see people or the occasional eagle fishing along the shoreline.
The next 1 ½ km (.93 mi) of Trail is gravel trail, double track. The next 2 ½ km (1.54 mi) of trail is paved trail (recycled asphalt). The next 11 km (6.79 mi)of trail is gravel trail, double track.
Community Trail volunteers have erected panels on which the history of the respective communities along the 92 km Trail has been depicted. The impact of the railroad and the culture of this part of the world is also presented. General trail information signs will be installed too. Take time to stop and read these panels that were compiled by local volunteers over a period of a year and a half.
Amenities in the immediate Port Hastings area are the Nova Scotia Tourist Information Centre, the Port Hastings Museum and Archives, a gas station, gift shop, motels and restaurants, post office, the Port Hawkesbury Municipal Airport, Fire Department and St. David’s United Church. Port Hawkesbury is a full service town and is just 8 kms.(4.9 mi.) from the Canal area.
The Troy Station Trailhead Kiosk and parking area is newly constructed and has ample parking space available It is located beside the water of the Strait of Canso, has picnic tables and information panels. The trail is flat, wide and well maintained. Appropriately named, this trail offers breathtaking scenes of the ocean and an opportunity to watch fishermen take in nets early in the morning. You also have many opportunities to take pictures of eagles and herons and other wildlife…MORE
Christy’s Look Off
There is a parking lot at Christy’s Look Off on the left hand side of route # 19. Watch for the flag pole as you approach as it’s on a bad turn. You go through the opening in the fence to your right to the trail. Be sure to have your camera as the view is fantastic. St. George’s Bay is the birthing ground for numerous gray seals in January and February when the “big ice” usually (but not always) moves down through to the Strait of Canso from the north. In May and June, the local fishermen set lobster traps and fish herring. All kinds of vessels travel these waters via the shortcut to Halifax and the eastern United States. Sailboats and pleasure craft are visible during the summer. Blackfish are the most commonly seen whales in this region as they follow the squid in from the ocean. Tuna and mackerel boats are offshore in the early fall.