by Michael Haynes

In 2010 hiker extraordinaire Haynes walked more than 4500 km in search of trails to include in his ever popular guidebooks. That’s a lot of mileage on foot. A year later he traversed every trail in this book. He divides the island into four regions, ten trails per region. The highlands are divided in two; the CB Highlands National Park region, including my favorite, Franey Mountain, and the trails found outside the park boundaries such as the wondrous vistas of Meat Cove. Eastern and Southwestern Cape Breton make up the other half of the trails.

The first edition (1999, revised 2002) covered fifty trails but because some of them have since been abandoned, eroded, or become somewhat dangerous he has left them out. That still leaves some 500 km of great maintained hikes in the magnificent Cape Breton outdoors.

Each trail has a good description including a map of the trail, how to get there (including trail head GPS coordinates), degree of difficulty, length, average walking time, type of terrain, hazards, facilities and cell phone reception access. Lots of great tips for travelling in the woods are included. Haynes’ photos add to its features. It’s easy to stow in your backpack or even your back pocket.

Haynes lists a number of trails in the back of the book that were featured in his earlier two volumes that he still recommends. Mentioned are other trails, many in the Mabou area, that have changed dramatically in the past few years and are no longer recommended by him. Hopefully by pointing this out it may influence decision makers in getting some of these trails back into shape. All the book’s trails are over three km in length but there are plenty of short jaunts around the island that are quite accessible, such as The Ballard Trail in Sydney.

I’d recommended this book as a companion to Haynes’ past books as well as Clarence Barrett’s book on the Highlands National Park (see review). If you don’t have a hiking guide book then you want this. I’ve been hiking for decades around the island and have only covered twenty of the forty in this book. So I’ve got lots more places to check out with the help of this concise and well written guidebook.

– review by Paul MacDougall –

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