Cabot Trail | Baddeck - Ingonish
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Town/CityDistanceElevationCategorized Climbs
ViewIngonish105 km1805 m2-Cat.2 | 1-Cat.3 | 2-Cat.4 | 1-Cat.5
ViewCheticamp90 km764 m1 - Cat. 4
ViewBaddeck103 km1096 m1 - Cat. 3


Map of The Cabot Trail


Categorised Climbs: Counter Clockwise (my direction)

Start Length Start | End Elevation Avg. Mountain Name
0.1 km 1.8 km 12 m | 51 m 39 m 2.2 % N/A
73.8 km 6.8 km 11 m | 273 m 262 m 3.9 % Cape Smokey

Categorised Climbs: Clockwise (alternate direction)

Start Length Start | End Elevation Avg. Mountain Name
12.7 km 11.0 km 1 m | 273 m 272 m 2.5 % Cape Smokey


General Route Information:

  • Start Location: Baddeck
  • Distance: 103 km
  • Elevation Gain: 1096 m
  • Washrooms: Baddeck
  • Food on Route: Baddeck

Emergency Services:

  • Victoria County Memorial Hospital
  •     Baddeck (902-295-2112)
  • Buchanan Memorial Community Health Centre
  •     Neil's Harbour (902-336-2200)

  • GW Taxi - Baddeck (902-295-0085)
  • Ingo Cab - Ingonish (902-285-4523)

  • Parks Canada Emergency Dispatch
  •     1-877-852-3100


Comparatively speaking, this section of the Cabot Trail is probably the quietest. People come to the Cabot Trail for the dramatic scenery which they will definitely find in Cape Breton Highland National Park. The terrain on this section is relatively flat, with the exception of Cape Smokey, that mostly dips and darts back and forth to the shoreline. It has it's own beauty that only the Atlantic shoreline can offer. It's full of little bays and coves that offer a tranquil setting while contemplating the moment of a lonely shore. The road out of Baddeck is quite busy as it is part of the main road going north. After about 19 km you will turn left and head toward the quieter roads of St. Annes Harbour.

The roads that twist and turn around St. Annes Harbour find their way onto the favourites list. You will wind around all the little coves and inlets, fall down to the coast and climb back up again. The views of the landscape is quite extraordinary and the roads are fairly quiet. You will be on this part of the Trail for 27 km after the cutoff from Hwy. 312. After a good hour of riding you come back to the coastline for your hard charge north.

Once you merge back with Hwy. 312 it's basically straight north with the ocean off your right shoulder. The road seems to be less busy up here, thankfully. Settle in for about 33 km of open shoreline riding. If you're lucky you'll catch a tailwind and sail along feeling stronger than you actually are - I love those moments. Nothing is completely flat on the Cabot Trail so you will find some undulations that will have to be dealt with. There are a few little opportunities along the way to find food or just look at the scenery and appreciate the fact that you are actually cycling the Cabot Trail. The last time I did this section I had a cross, head wind off the ocean and I suffered north towards Ingonish. It was great!!!

After your 33 km journey north you will come to THE highlight of this section of the Cabot Trail. CAPE SMOKEY. This climb looks quite daunting from below and that's because it is. The roads highest elevation is just shy of 300 m, which is shorter than the larger mountains found in the north and west. But...once you start climbing it is relentless all the way to the top. You can see a lot of what is ahead and above you as you climb ever higher. The switchbacks twist and turn on the steep slopes offering fantastic views as you slowly reach the top. According to Map My Ride (MMR) the climb is a Category 3, 6.8 km in length and has an average gradient of 3.8%. The meat of the climb holds double digits gradients for at least half of that distance. The first part of the climb that MMR includes in its data you hardly know you're climbing at all. That soon changes into a suffer-fest on steep roads and steep falloffs to your right.

Once you reach the top of Cape Smokey a nice easy descent into the Ingonish area will follow. This is also a very beautiful area as you will fall to the ocean below circle around Ingonish Harbour, whip on past the famous Keltic Lodge and finish your day to the north near Ingonish and Bear Cove.

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