The Best of Cape Breton Hiking

Cape Breton Island, the most magnificent and beautiful island in the world. To quote National Geographic  "this island is Canada's best kept secret." 
We have endless opportunities to explore mountains, rugged coastlines, and vast untouched wilderness. Not to mention, no matter where you are in Nova Scotia, you are never more than 67 km from the ocean. Keeping all that in mind, it only makes sense that we are one of, if not the best, hiking destination in Canada. 

                                   The Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park

                                  The Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park

We have put together a few of our favorite hikes located throughout Cape Breton, with hopes that you will have the opportunity to explore places you've never been or to reminisce on your past adventures.  Don't have the proper gear for hitting the trail? Not to worry, Escape Outdoors has everything you need from a great pair of boots to backpacks and rain jackets. You name it, there is a good chance we have it. 

 

The Louisbourg Lighthouse Trail

The Lighthouse Trail is one of the most historic trails in Cape Breton, located on the eastern side of the island, across the harbor from the Fortress of Louisbourg. This trail will take you along rugged coastline, as you trace the steps of English soldiers on a 2km loop from the lighthouse to Gun Landing. If you're feeling more adventurous, you can continue on a more rugged trail for 6km to Big Lorraine. You'll travel through Pebble beach, various coves, marshes, flora and interesting forest, while listening to the waves crash. 

 

Uisge Bàn Falls

Uisge Ban Falls in located in the heart of Cape Breton. You might know it to be the beginning and the end of the world famous Cabot Trail or simply put, Baddeck.  “Uisge Ban” is Gaelic for “white water” and whether you take the Falls or River Trail, you'll quickly see where it got the name. 

The Falls Trail is 1.5km and takes you through forest that looks like a scene from a fairy tale. Trees grow tall and wrap their roots over large mossy stones, setting the scene for a magical hike as you hear the water rushing around you. You'll then find yourself at the base of a jaw-dropping 50ft waterfall in a granite gorge.  If you want to make the trail a little longer, you can follow the fork along the North Branch River in a 2km loop. 

 

White Point Hiking Trail

Located off the northern portion of the Cabot Trail, near Neil’s Harbour, you'll find one the most scenic fishing villages in the world. You'll also find beautiful, open hiking trails which begin on somewhat of a hidden dirt road and follows the coast along rocky, rugged cliffs. The trail is roughly 6km and ends with spectacular views in Burnt Head Cove. White Point Trail has been called the most scenic hiking trail in Cape Breton, and you'll quickly see why. 

 

Meat Cove Mountain

Adventure to the most northern point of Nova Scotia and find what is easily the most stunning landscape in the world. Before your feet even hit the trail, you'll be blown away by how untouched the landscape is. The road into the village is gorgeous as it twists between the mountains of the Cape Breton Highlands. 


Meat Cove Mountain is only about 3.5km total hiking but that doesn't mean it's easy. The trail rises 900 feet within the first kilometer. However, there are ropes along the way to help you get up and down the mountain. When you reach the summit,  take a break and enjoy the views. You'll view first hand "Where the Mountains Meet the Sea". 

Coxheath Hills Wilderness Trail (Coxheath MounTain)

This trail isn't prominently featured compared to many of the trails located within the National Park however that doesn't mean that it's not one of the nicest trails on our island. This 10km network of trails is located within the CBRM and only a short drive from Sydney. The Coxheath Hills & Trails Society does a fantastic job keeping the trail open throughout the entire year and organizes lots of fun events like Christmas at the Cabin, where you hike up to Pittman Lodge (available for overnight stays by booking) and listen to Christmas stories around a fire with hot apple cider. During Celtic Colours you can even experience a Ceilidh on the mountain with musicians and entertainment. 
The hike to the top begins with a steep climb but gets easier until you reach the top where you can get a panoramic view of Sydney, Cape Smokey and East Bay Hills. 

 

Skyline Trail

We can't leave out the most popular trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Of course, we're talking about the Skyline Trail located on the Cabot Trail on the top of French Mountain. We suggest you wake up early or save this hike for when it's not peak tourist season as there is generally a lot of foot traffic at that time. You can choose to trek 6.5 km return or an 8.2 km loop. During your hike you'll see forests, mountains, ocean and even wildlife (moose sightings are plentiful). Once you pass through the forest and reach the boardwalk, follow it until you're greeted by a birds eye view of the Cabot Trail, that will leave you speechless. 

We are only scratching the surface of all the wonderful trails throughout the island for you to explore. Always keep in mind the level of difficulty your body can handle when choosing a trail. Whether you're a hiking enthusiast, or you just want to spend some time outdoors with the kids, Cape Breton Island has a trail for everyone.  We encourage you to get outdoors and see the trails for yourself, but remember the importance of safety, preparation and planning. Happy exploring! 

 

Camping 101

Camping Trip Essentials

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Have you ever begun your camping  trip by realizing you forgot the tent at home? Whether you're hitting the trail for a few days, or just spending the weekend at the campground, being prepared is essential. 

We have compiled a checklist of items (mostly) available at Escape Outdoors, so you can focus on relaxing around the fire or deciding where your next destination will be. (You may need more or less items than listed depending on when and where you'll be camping.)


Equipment:

  • Tent
  • Spare tent pegs
  • Groundsheet
  • Tarp
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Sleeping pad or air matress
  • Flashlight and lanterns
  • Rope
  • Duct Tape
  • Stuff sack
  • Extra batteries
  • Fire starter
  • Axe or hatchet
  • Pocket knife
  • Compass
  • Backpack
  • First-aid kit

Kitchen Gear:

Camp stove
Fuel
Utensils
Plates, bowls, mugs, etc
Thermos
Pots and frying pan
Dishpan
Biodegradable dishwashing soap
Oven mitts
Food cooler
Aluminum foil
Garbage bags
Papertowel
Animal resistant food storage containers
Water jug and filter
Corkscrew or bottle opener


Personal Gear

            Biodegradable Soap 

           Biodegradable Soap 

                                        Buff 

                                       Buff 

                                Bear Spray

                               Bear Spray

Sunscreen
Sunglasses
Buff
Toothbrush
Toilet paper
Bug spray
Hand sanitizer
Bear spray or bear bells
Biodegradable shampoo & soap
Water bottle
Deodorant
Power bank for electronic devices
Medications
Ibuprofen/Aspirin/Tylenol
Towel
Shower bag
Pocket mirror
Whistle 


Food

How much food you bring and what kind will depend on where you are going, how much you can carry, what you have for cooking on, and where you can dispose of trash. 

        Backpacker's Pantry freeze dried meal

       Backpacker's Pantry freeze dried meal

If you'll be backcountry camping, it's important to think about weight and how well your food will stay fresh. Freeze dried meals and granola bars are a hiker's best friend as they are quick, light and easily packable.  

If you're pushing your body to the limit, remember to provide yourself with plenty of calories and protein to maintain your strength. Some people choose to prepare their own freeze dried meals, but they can also be purchased pre-made by companies like Backpacker's Pantry. In our opinion, you can't beat these meals. The variety of meals is incredible ranging from items like omelettes for breakfast, to potatoes and beef for dinner and even cheesecake for dessert. 

If weight and packability isn't an issue, check out this list of food items:

Coffee/tea
Milk
Cereal/oatmeal
Eggs
Salt/pepper
Pancake batter & Syrup
Bread/bagels
Peanut butter/jam
Meat (fresh and jerky)
Energy bars
Cooking oil
Fruit & veggies
Rice
Hamburgers
Hot dogs
Wine/bottled drinks
Cheese
Crackers/potato chips

 

                   Ol' fashion campfire cooking

                  Ol' fashion campfire cooking


Clothing

When packing clothes, choose lightweight fabrics that are moisture-wicking. When you're adventuring outdoors, it's okay to reuse clothing especially when backpacking. Below is a list of clothing that are great to consider packing in your bag.

        Smartwool base layer

       Smartwool base layer

 

Base-layer clothing - Clothing with synthetic material is highly recommended, as it will wick moisture away from the skin, keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter.

 Columbia convertible pant

Columbia convertible pant

 

 

Convertible pants - Pants that can quickly zip off into shorts are great to have in your bag for temperature changes. 

                Olukai sandals

               Olukai sandals

 

 

Camp Footwear - A good pair of hiking boots or shoes is essential, but don't forget to pack lighter shoes that you can quickly slip on for exploring close to camp.

              Patagonia Torrentshell Pullover

             Patagonia Torrentshell Pullover

 

 

 

 

Weatherproof Jacket/Outer layers - Whether you're camping in the Summer or Winter, it's key to have weather resistant outer layers. Look for items listed as weather-proof or designed with Gore-Tex. Gore-Tex is a breathable waterproof laminate that will help with the product's ability to shed water. 

 

 

 

 

 

             Darn Tough Sock

            Darn Tough Sock

Quality pair of socks - Darn Tough socks are one of the best brand of socks for camping or hiking. Not only are they guaranteed for life, they help prevent blisters and provide great comfort during a long trek. 

 Womens Vasque Breeze 3.0 GORE-TEX Hiking Boot

Womens Vasque Breeze 3.0 GORE-TEX Hiking Boot

 

 

Hiking boots or shoes - Wearing the right boot or shoe can make or break a camping or hiking trip. It's essential to find the proper boot or shoe for your foot. We recommend trying on a few styles and putting them to the test before departing on your adventure. 

 

 

 

 

 

                                Tilley Hat

                               Tilley Hat

Hat and gloves-  Even during the Summer months, the evenings can become cool, so packing a little pair of winter gloves and a warm beanie is often a great idea. We always squeeze a baseball or tilley hat in our packs as well. 

 

 

 


Just For Fun

campfire.jpg

Camera
Binoculars
Playing cards
Bicycle
Frisbee
Kayak + life jackets
S’more ingredients

 

 

 

 

 

It's Our Birthday!

It's hard to believe it, but we are already turning 5 years old at Escape Outdoors!

We've decided to celebrate with a Birthday Sale! All week long enjoy 30% off select men's and ladies' summer styles.

Snag great deals on men's summer shirts, pants and shorts from brands such as Columbia and Toad&Co, and ladies dresses, tops, pants, skirts and shorts from LOLE, Toad & Co., Columbia and PrAna.

A sale like this only happens once a year, don't miss out!

30% off select summer styles this week only at Escape Outdoors.

Fast Times, Slow Food

Come out to our Fast Times, Slow Food event...an evening of great ideas and food, as well as some good news!

We'll kick off the evening with a screening of Unbroken Ground a short film by Patagonia Provisions about the critical role food will play in the next frontier of efforts to solve the environmental crisis. Following the film, Alicia Lake of the Cape Breton Foodhub will give us an update on their work and how you can join the local food movement.

And, the good news will be a presentation of cheque by Mellissa Trudel from Patagonia. The North Sydney Business Improvement & Development Association (BIDA) has been awarded a $2,000.00 conservation grant by their friends at Escape Outdoors in partnership with Patagonia’s wholesale grants program. The project to be funded is a Bee Friendly Organic Garden to be installed in the downtown core.

This event will support the garden project and with a suggested donation of $10, you can enjoy a pint of beer from Breton Brewing Co., light local fare from All Green Organic Farm and Thyme Savour Takeaway Food Shoppe, and a chance to win some terrific prizes from Patagonia.

Limited Seating. Email info@escapeoutdoors.ca to reserve your seat and make your donation. This will be an exciting project for the community and your support is appreciated!

Wednesday, May 10th
7-9 PM
Higher Grounds Cafe at Escape Outdoors

Sales/Marketing & Healthy Living Promotion Assistant

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Escape Outdoors is Cape Breton's outdoor store, offering apparel, footwear and gear for those involved in active and outdoor lifestyles.  In addition, EO operates on site, Higher Grounds Cafe, a small coffee shop with seating for 25-30, selling teas/coffees and baked goods.

An important part of our business philosophy is to promote active and healthy living.  As part of that we (1) provide education (2) motivation and (3) access to products/services to facilitate healthy and active lifestyles.  As an example we sometimes provide workshops on various topics (gardening, hiking, etc.) and these sessions educate and get people interested in trying new active activities/hobbies.  We also coordinate and promote various outdoor experiences (snowshoeing, hiking, cycling, etc.).  We are looking for someone to join our team who also possesses the same interests and values and would be excited to work in a like-minded environment.

Job Responsibilities

  • Maintain an understanding of the EO customer and demonstrate a great deal of customer care.
  • Maintain familiarity with EO's product assortment, sales and promotions.
  • Provide product guidance for customers.
  • Assist with visual merchandising, and window displays.
  • Develop next level relationships with customers and initiate proactive communication with them about new product arrivals, events and other store happenings, through social media and other channels.
  • Assist in the organization and roll-out of in-store/cafe events.
  • Help to maintain organization and cleanliness, and restock product.
  • Assist with cafe menu planning.
  • Handling food/beverage service and sales.

Desired Skills & Experience:

  • The successful candidate must be enrolled in post-secondary education. You also must have been a full-time student during the previous academic year and be intending to return to full-time studies in the next academic year.
  • Must be able to work two Saturdays a month and some evenings.
  • Flexible and creative self-starter who is able to work unsupervised within an entrepreneurial environment.
  • Possess a positive attitude, friendliness, and a pleasant demeanor.
  • Excellent communicator, and customer-service oriented.
  • Retail and marketing experience preferred.
  • Familiarity with a point of sale system would be an asset.
  • Interest and experience in outdoor lifestyle activities would be an asset.

Job Details:

  • Nine week term beginning end of June
  • $10.85/hr for 40 hours a week + product discount

To apply, email a cover letter and resume to info@escapeoutdoors.ca attn: Sherry or drop off in person during store hours. 

We thank all applicants for their interest. However, only those selected for an interview will be contacted. Deadline to apply is May 22nd.

SaToadDays in June

Every SaToadDay in June there will be a $150 coupon winner!

We know lots of you love your Toad&Co. clothing. You can't be the feel, comfort and special details on these pieces. So, we're excited to announce SaToadDays for the month of June.

For each T&Co. purchase all week (regular price) each customer will get an entry. At the end of each Saturday, we'll do a random draw for a $150 T&Co. coupon for a future purchase.

Check out our new spring/summer line and get your entry in to this amazing contest!

Soup for Seawall: A Fundraiser in Support of Seawall Trail

As soon as we heard about the proposed Seawall Trail, we wondered what we could do to help. We're excited to announce that Escape Outdoors, in collaboration with Higher Grounds Cafe at Escape Outdoors, will be supporting this awesome initiative with a fundraiser, Soup for Seawall!

On April 21st, get a biscuit, a bowl of Soul Soothing African Peanut Soup, and a cup of our kick@ss organic and fair-trade Full Steam Coffee Company coffee for your minimum cash donation of $10.

Our goal is to sell 100 and to raise at least $1000 dollars. 100% of proceeds will go to Seawall Trail. Be part of this exciting development and get your signature on the commemorative poster. Soup is available to eat-in or take-out. Pre-orders required by Wednesday, April 20th. Email info@escapeoutdoors.ca to place your order. Pay at the store.

Recap: PJM Knives Presentation

There wasn't a dull moment at last week's talk by Peter McKinley of PJM Knives. 

Peter gave a very informative presentation covering the importance of a sharp knife, and how to get the best edge. There were 17 pretty sharp participants with some excellent questions.

A big thanks to Peter and everyone that came out! Have a suggestion for an upcoming in-store event? Send us a tweet.

Toad&Co + Garments For Good

Toad&Co. makes garments for good. Since 1997, every item of Toad&Co clothing sold contributes to creating opportunity for adults with disabilities. You shop, Toad&Co gives.

We believe, without exception, that adventure and opportunity are possible for everyone. In 1997 T&C cofounded Planet Access Company (PAC) to positively change the lives of adults with developmental disabilities by providing them with job training and work opportunities. Today, 100% of Toad&Co’s inventory is picked, packed, and shipped by the PAC warehouse crew with unmatched reliability and enthusiasm. That kind of dedication deserves a vacation.

In 2001 T&C started Search for Adventure to send adults with disabilities on once-in-a-lifetime trips to the great outdoors. Every Toad&Co garment you purchase directly contributes to sending PAC crew and Search clients on much–deserved vacations. When you shop, they give. 

With more than 80 unique vacations provided to over 200 people, Search for Adventure is one of the programs they are most proud to support. Every year Search clients and Toad volunteers enjoy SFA organized trips to places like the Appalachian Trail, the Bahamas, New York City and an annual trip to Toad&Co Headquarters in Santa Barbara, CA.  

To get a feel for what SFA trips are like, check out this short film produced by the folks at Search, Inc. For more information on Search for Adventure visit search-inc.org. 

And, shop and further support the initiative at EO.

Stay Sharp! Presentation by Peter McKinley on the Care of Knives/Bladed Tools

Join local bladesmith and retired chef, Peter McKinley on January 28th at 6:30 p.m. at Escape Outdoors.  Peter will present a demonstration and discussion on the care and sharpening of knives and others bladed tools.  A good sharp tool makes chores faster, easier, more accurate, more enjoyable and most importantly – safer.  This will be an informative, free clinic of interest to many, but especially those who use and appreciate a sharp knife in the kitchen and the outdoors.

PJM-in-forge.jpg

Topics to be covered include general care and maintenance of bladed tools, an overview of different blade shapes and angles, and proper sharpening techniques by both hand and machine.  Particular attention will be given to the use of whet stones and leather straps, and their application to knife sharpening. Participants are encouraged to bring in their knives and will receive advice on how to sharpen them effectively and keep them sharp.

Space is limited, so please email info@escapeoutdoors.ca to confirm your seat.