One of the longer but more satisfying hikes in my community is an 18km return trail to North River Falls - the tallest in Nova Scotia at approximately 100 feet. I recently had the pleasure of guiding two women from Singapore for North River Kayak Tours, which offers kayak and hiking adventures in St. Ann's Bay. For the last 20 years Angelo and his guides have offered tours on Murray Road in North River, ranging from a paddle to an eagle's nest and waterfall, to a five day excursion in the Highlands of Cape Breton. I may be biased (we are neighbors!) but these tours are among some of the most genuine and wild experiences you can have as a visitor to the island. Below is Angelo's shop where we are getting instruction and Angelo at the falls you would visit on Murray mountain on the 1/2 day tour.
Meet Cam and Ana! They chose the 2 day tour which begun with this day-long hike and a day-long kayaking trip the following day (check out Angelo's trip packages here). We started at the trail-head around 9am which is found on Oregon Road, just after the North River bridge. There is also a hike to a smaller set of falls that takes about 1 hour and a picnic park to explore.
Singapore is a country smaller than New York city and there are not many areas where they can hike a rugged, back-woods trail like this one. This kind of hike and the nature around us was a brand new experience for them both.
We saw a lot of great things on the way in that I was excited to point out, such as Indian Ghost Pipes (Monotropa uniflora) and other fungus - including newly sprouting Chanterelles. Ana and Cam were discovering common trees, plant life and birds that we are used to here in Nova Scotia for the first time, and suddenly a Chickadee was an exciting thing to find. We did some pishing to call birds in, but the foliage is heavy on this trail and small birds are hard to spot. We did get the privilege of observing a Barred Owl in fairly close distance; Ana and Cam caught the owl immediately after seeing a flash of its gigantic wing span.
Another treasure on this trail are the remnants of old camps that once lined the North River. Used to aid in the harvesting of trees for a nearby pulp mill, this river and trail was home to many mill workers year round. Evidence of foundations and rock walls are continuously popping up through the thick, jungle-like forest, reminding you of how productive and history-rich this part of Cape Breton really is. They milled the trees on the mountain and then sent them down river into the bay.
On Day 2, Cam and Ana would be paddling out where timber would gather for kilometers down the water where the North River empties, waiting to get processed at the mill. They would pass the abandoned structures of the mill that still stand, now with almost fully grown spruce trees taking over inside and out. On their way out to the bay, I caught them while having a coffee on the water in front of my house and got a couple shots of them leaving.