There are many places that could be called ' Motorcycle Paradise'. Nova Scotia is a beautiful part of the world. You will see little or no trash on the road sides. The people are very friendly and considerate to bikers on and off the road. Alexander Graham Bell stated ... I have traveled around the world. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes, the Alps, and the Highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all. This is the Cabot Trail.
There are six major scenic trails in Nova Scotia, The Evangeline Trail, The Glooscap Trail, The Sunrise Trail, the Cabot Trail, The Marine Trail, and the Lighthouse Trail. It was our intension to see as much coastal roads we could in a seven day period. We logged 1416 mile including 84 miles in Arcadia area in Me. We had a map and the Motorcycle Tour Guide Nova Scotia that was sent via snail mail for free which was very handy to have on the trip. Type in the title on a search engine the site will pop up and you can order your own tour guide. Other than that we were flying blind, no reservations other than the ferry ride, over & back and a motel in Bar Harbor for several nights. The Cabot Trail is the highlight, all the other trails we followed had there own significant beauty in their own way.
You need to see more than the Cabot Trail to understand the beauty of the coast land and the people that live there. The weather will make or break a motorcycle trip to N.S. Leave extra days to lay low if weather is fowl. It will be worth the wait. Bring plenty of film for your camera!
You can fly into Halifax and rent a bike from Vineland Tours 866-425-6305. You can drive through New Brunswick which they tell me will take 4 hours from the Canadian border to get to N.S. Bar Harbor Me is about 3-4 hours drive from the border so I have been told. Then again it would depend if you are a 60 MPH person or a screamer. You can drive to Portland Me or Bar Harbor Me and take the Cat Ferry, 45 MPH on the water, 877-359-3760, cost $148.00 one way for a person and a motorcycle. The Cat leaves Bar Harbor on Mon, Tu & Wed at 8:00 A.M. and returns around 7:00 P.M. on those days. A three hour trip about 100 miles which is not listed in the log for miles on the ride. On Th, Fr & Sat, Su the Cat leaves Portland at 7:00 A.M., it returns about 9:30 P.M. a 5.5 hour trip or 175 Miles. You have to be at the ferry 1 hour before it leaves no matter which way you are going. There is another ferry from St Johns N.B. to Digby N.S. which I have no knowledge of other than it is available for transport. You loose one hour time going to N.S. from USA, due to time change.
Two weeks before we were schedule to take the trip I pulled a muscle in my lower back. it's a problem I have had for years. It generally takes me from 2-3 weeks to recover. I was beginning to think we were going to postpone the trip or do a closer route state side. One of my employees asked me if I had ever tried a Tiger Baum Patches. I bought some and they really worked. We decided to trailer up to Bar Harbor in case I had a problem. I was still using two patches a day on my back.
I did not like the idea of getting back at 9:30 in the city on a bike so Portland was out. If we had ridden the bikes taking the ferry out of Portland returning to Bar Harbor would have given us one or two days more in N.S. due to the ferry schedule. But we would have had to drive through Boston twice, once in rush hour traffic, not pretty.
We left Middleboro, Ma. About 9:00 A.M. on Sat 08/11/07 taking 495 N to Rt 24N to 128 to 93 N to 95 N to 293 through Augusta back to 95N to 395 in Bangor Ma to Rt 1A to Bar Harbor 328 miles which is not listed in the log for the ride. We were told that we might be able to park the truck & trailer at the ferry for a fee on a first come first serve basis. It's a full size pick up truck with a 14' enclosed trailer, it takes up some room. When we arrived at the ferry they gave us the boarding passes and told us we could park free. They said just put the boarding pass number on a paper with the approximate return date and you will have no problem. The area is locked down at night. We packed up the bikes locked down the rig and road to the Villager Motel located in the center of Bar Harbor. Walking distance to all town shops & Restaurants. The address is 287 Main St. Bar Harbor ( 207-288-2278 ) and costs $150.00 Per night. Very clean rooms, very comfortable, very friendly staff and you will wake up every morning with a fresh towel on your motorcycle. The owners are very biker friendly.
On Sun 08/12/07 we rode around Arcadia National Park logging 84 Miles with full gear as a sort of test ride. The 84 Miles is on the ride log. We decided to keep the daily miles on my wife's trip meter and the overall miles on my trip meter.
Mon 08/13/07 we were up early ready to go. We got to the ferry at 7:10 and went through customs, they ask a few questions, and that's it. There was one bike in front of us. They were part of a large group that had not arrived yet. By 7:40 there was about thirty bikes. When they load the ferry they put cars on first facing the exit ramp. Cars are almost always facing the front or rear of the ferry. Bikes they put in the middle facing the sides of the ferry. They told us to use their ratchet straps. One strap over the seat with the kick stand down in gear with the ratchet on the kick stand side. I don't think anyone was very comfortable about it. I put a second strap from my locked right handle bar on both bikes, to the floor ring to take some pressure off the kick stand. They do not allow passengers to ride in the cargo area you must go top side. Everyone was looking for coffee not having any by 8:30 people were getting testy. It was a very long line for coffee.
The ride was cool, roosters off two sides of the back of the ferry reached 20' in height. The water displacement from one rooster would fill an Olympic size Pool in thirty seconds. The water was not rough but not totally calm. Many people were not feeling well. The back of the boat is the smoothest ride. It was overcast leaving Bar Harbor and looking like we were heading right into it. There was a distinct temperature drop from Bar Harbor to Yarmouth. Riding on and off the ferry is like going over a steel grated bridge that has a good pitch. Be careful if it is wet. We rode off and got in a line for customs. Have your passport and the entry card filled out in advance. If everyone had filled out their entry cards customs would be faster. It took about 30 min to clear customs.
There are three different road types in N.S. The 100 series like 101 & 103 these are there highways. The time distance chart on the N.S. map will give you approximate hours to travel from city to city using the 100 series roadways. Major secondary roads are single digits Like Rt 1 & Rt 3 they can be somewhat coastal and sometimes mix with the coastal roads which are a 200 or 300 series like 215 or 335. If you are planning to do coastal roads for the most part multiply the hours between major cities by four. That is if you do not like to shop or look around in the neat little towns. If you are traveling in a counter clock wise pattern go straight off the ferry and look for the 103 to Rt 3.
Everyone on the boat we talked with seemed to be heading for Halifax, we decided to go the other way on the Evangeline Trail. Take a left out of the ferry and you will run right into Rt 1. There was a mist in the air and thick cloud cover. We pulled over at a Wendy's to put on rain gear it's about 1:30. A biker pulled in next to us and said ... Did you just get here? He explained what they had done in the past week as they regretfully head back to the ferry. You could tell they had a ball. He cautioned me about the sudden cross winds as I soon found out for myself. We rode up the trail for about an hour and stopped for lunch. Rt 1 was mostly 80 K which is 50 MPH along the coast but we really could not see much due to the fog. The route works away from the coast into Annapolis valley big on farming and fun roads in good shape to cruise. We stopped in Middleton at about 5:30 logging 114 miles and stayed at Mid Valley motel.com 902-825-3433. The cost was $124.15 The hotel had a restaurant, bar and the rooms were clean and neat.
I hoped this portion of the ride would show us the Bay of Fundy but it did not. It did show me the red clay which was all over the bikes. I looked at my bike after we un packed the gear and my Reinhart pipes were red. Once they cooled down I learned how to wash my bike out of a motel room trash can. First you need a ground room with parking next to the front door. Otherwise it's a long walk to the tub to refill or rinse. But it worked for the most part. Tuesday 08/14/07 we were on the road by 8:00, with no patch on my back, in heavy clothes with rain gear. Clouds but no rain we rode through Rt 1 more farm country and into some good sized towns or small cities like Kentville. Wolfville was our goal from the prior day it's a college town and I was told had plenty of lodging although I did not see much when we rode through.
This brought us into the Minas Basin and the sun is poking through. This brought us in to Brooklyn on to Rt 215 and the beginning of the Glooscap Trail. This route takes you down the basin with many coastal scenic views. The route around Truro was a little confusing but we made our way with only two turn around's. Its so pretty you do not mind getting lost as long as you have fuel. It was just about this time that we realized that gas station are not as abundant as one might like. We decided that we should have a half a tank rule. If you are at half a tank and see a gas station stop and fuel up. We fueled in Truro got on the 102 for a brief period to the 104 and got off on Rt 2 coastal. This piece of road has major coastal views with hills and twisty's mostly gentle but there are some sharp turns. If you see a diamond sign with one point of the diamond pointing up and the other pointing down with reflectors on it slow down to the speed limit. Most of the sharp turns had this type of sign.
We were trying to make Amherst but looking at the map I knew it was probably not going to happen. We stopped for fuel in Parsboro. Talking to the attendant I told him I was thinking about Rt 209 to Advocate Harbor to Amherst. He told me no motels and it's a three hour ride through the woods no views. He suggested a motel on Rt 2 toward Amherst, if there full its only 45 min to Amherst which has many hotels. We stopped at the Sunrise Hotel on Rt 2. 902-254-3135 We had not even got off the bikes and a gentleman came out and said there was a convention in town and his rooms were full. He asked if we would like him to call the other hotel in town to see if they had any rooms. When he called we could tell that they had no rooms. I was thanking the man for his time when he said wait just a minute. He walked over to the desk and reached down under the counter and handed me a key. I said to him I do not understand I thought all your rooms were booked. He said they are, but I have a in law apartment down stairs and they are state side for a few days. You can stay there for the price of a room. It was great to say the least. The price was $109.00 and we had logged 218 Miles of great roads. We were talking watching TV and my wife complained about her neck being soar form the wind. I suggested the Tiger Baum Patches which we cut up and placed on our necks before we went to sleep. Guess what they really work for the stiff neck syndrome. There a must take on any road trip we due in the future.
Wed. 08/15/07 we followed Rt 2 to 302 into Amherst all country side with beautiful farm VISTAs with full sunshine. Amherst is a good sized city but Rt 6 is at the beginning of the city if you are coming off 302. This started the Sunrise Trail and the coastal views just seemed to be getting better and better with every mile. We rode Rt 6 through Pugwash down to Pictou where we pulled in to town. In Pictou you can take a ferry to or from Prince Edward Island. We were driving through town when I saw a chopper parked on the sidewalk in front of a auto parts store. So I pulled off on the sidewalk and parked next to the chopper. We went inside with map in hand and asked the gentleman behind the counter if he had any detail rags. He got me the detail rags and I asked him if he had time to look at the map. He said no problem where are you heading. I told him we were thinking about Rt 245 out to Cape George. He said I'm on a hard tail I did it last year and the road is very rough with little coastal view. You should book over to the Cabot trail Via the 104. I asked him about lunch in town and fuel. He steered us right on both accounts. Always talk with the locals they saved us precious time and directed us to great asphalt in every meeting we had.
After lunch and fuel we hit the 104. This was when I found out about the cross winds. Winds will blow through with strange gusts and can blow you from one side of your lane to the other. Our average speed on the 104 was 70 MPH. although my wife said I was doing 80. The highways are open and one could easily travel faster if they choose. Only a short portion of the highway is divided two lanes in either direction the majority of it is two lanes period other than the passing lanes. They have passing lanes on the hills most are long some are not that long. I got close to a tractor trailer truck to get ready to pass when the passing lane opened up. The current behind the truck was blowing me from side to side. It was like the bike was wobbling. I have never felt anything like that before and hope I never do again. After that I gave big trucks a wide birth.
We crossed over Canso Causeway into Port Hastings heading up Rt 19 and the winding roads with coastal views just keep getting better. Rt 19 is called the Ceildh Trail. There are 5 trails on Cape Breton Island which I knew of only the Cabot. You could probably spend a week on the five trail of Cape Brenton. We stopped in Judique for fuel. I told the attendant that I was looking for a motel with a restaurant or a cottage with a beach view with a restaurant close by. He said in Port Hood the Light House Cottages, 15 min walk to a restaurant if they have any openings. It was a dirt road down to the cottages, but not too far. They had one opening for one night. We logged 226 miles for the day and we were off the road at 3:30 One minute walk to the beach, the cottage had a full kitchen and would sleep 4 + easy. There phone number is 902-787-3345 and costs $142.50 a night. If you were spending several days on Cape Breton and liked peace and quite this would be the a great spot to camp. The restaurant I did not write down the name was also very good.
Thur 08/16/07 we are very excited to be heading to the Cabot trail. The winds were very strong last night and blew in many clouds and light fog. So we bundle up and hit the road about 8:15. Rt 19 heads inland from Port Hood to Inverness. In Dunvegan follow 219 its still the Ceildh Trail into Margaree Harbour. Shortly after you will enter Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The beauty is un describable as the fog is starting to burn off. In the first two miles I pulled over eight times for a Kodak moment. The Cabot Trail is about 180 miles. At this point I realized that I could not stop as much as I would have liked too. We were traveling clock wise. Most all of the out look points were on the left side of the road. Watch for traffic in the other lane before you pull into a look out. I assure you on coming traffic will be looking at the coast not your lane.
We fueled up in Cheticamp This town has all the amenities you need to over night and is quite scenic with several hotels. If you camped there for a few days there would probably be more night life activities. The fog has burned off but the leather jacket is still on riding. We rod to Cape North where we ventured to Bay St Lawrence which is a neat little cove. We had lunch at the Hut, Mozzo- Burgers, a popular of the locals. We wanted to go to Meat Cove. There is supposed to be a neat cliff there at the Campgrounds. The last ten K of the road to the camp ground is dirt and we did not want to take the Harley's over that.
We got back on the trail heading towards Neil's Cove. You have to get off the trail to see the town. There are several towns that you have to get off the trail to view. It was mid afternoon, the sun was shinning, we were smiling from ear to ear. Ingonish we fueled again and headed toward Cape Smokey. As you follow the trail it is very deceiving how high the elevation is getting. You do not realize the elevation until you start heading down. Steep sharp switch backs that go on and on. The pictures do not do the roads justice. All the way down I was thinking what a blast this would be going up! We were looking to stay the night in Baddeck. We got there about 6:00 it's a resort town. Topped off the fuel tanks and ran into a couple that was on the ferry with us. We talked a bit but they had a room in Cheticamp and we were looking for a room in Baddeck. The third hotel we stopped at had three rooms left. Before the bags were off the bike's the other two rooms were booked. We logged 216 miles. We stayed at the Telegraph House, downtown, 888-263-9840 at a cost of $76.00 for the night. We were both still high on the glee we got from the roads we just traveled. Everything you need in town and a great place to camp for a few days maybe even a week. We were hoping to do the Cabot Trail the opposite direction on Friday. The forecast was not good rain was moving in. If the front was slow we might get the morning in.
With no knowledge of the road pitch on the switch backs I probably would have ridden the Cabot Trail in the rain. Now that I have ridden it I would NOT do it in the rain. Heavy fog - Forget about it, lay low and wait. If you go to N.S. the Cabot Trail is a must do. It will be worth the wait.
Fri 08/17/07 its raining, we have breakfast at the hotel. The best French toast we have ever had. We watch the forecast and its looking worst. Now they say rain all day into Sat with the Yarmouth side of N.S. clearing first. We decide to try and get close to Halifax. We get on the 105 and it begins to pour. 50 MPH with four way flashers on, not fun. We are getting close to Canso Causeway the foam behind my clear goggles is completely saturated they begin to fog up. We get to the causeway and I see a gazebo on the right so we pull over and take a break. We both switch glasses and we are off again on the 104.
The rain turns to showers which is better but still not fun. We were out side of Truro 30K or so and I look at my fuel. I'm below a 1/4 tank. We go past a few exits and no gas signs. Now I'm at 1/8 of a tank so I take the next exit. I got to the end of the ramp and my wife said which way? To the left was all woods to the right I could see a sign. We got to the sign and it said Truro 19K. I followed it for what seemed miles with all woods no houses, etc. I was really starting to sweat bullets. We started to see a few houses but no activity. There was a truck in the road with the hood up and two guys working on it. They told me about 8K up the road was fuel. A couple miles up the road I hit reserve. I must have been on fumes when we got there but lucked out. What happened to the half tank rule? The rain must have fogged my mind. Watch your fuel when you do not know where you are going.
We get back on the 104 for a brief period and switch off to the 102. We go a few exits and get off on Rt 2. According to the map it follows 102 and we thought it might be more scenic and maybe we will find a place to stay before Halifax. Rt 2 is slower than the highway and there is not much on it. We decided to get back on the 102. When we got to Halifax airport there was a sign for visitor information. Its located in the aviation museum which looked neat. But we were tired and wet from head to toe. The visitor information centers are great for the most part. I told them I wanted a place with a restaurant that was close to the Harley dealership. They gave me the name address and a smaller separate map with high lighted directions. We got to the Lakeview Inn and Suites at 98 Chain Lake Dr. 902-450-3020 We logged 235 miles for the day.
We parked in front , walked through the door dripping wet, we met Lee anna she was behind the counter. She told us the hotel was quite full. Not what we wanted to hear. She searched her keyboard and found us a business suite on the first floor with doors opening to the parking space. When we left the desk I apologized for leaving puddles in front of the desk. She said no problem I'll take care of it. The room was big and very comfortable with a large desk with everything a business man would need. After we dried off I went back to the desk and asked Lee Anna about dinner and once again she was very polite and quite helpful. The cost of the room was $150.00 per night.
Sat. 08/18/07 we woke up to down pours with steady rain. We watched the forecast it said rain all day- bummer. We though it might be a good day to lay low. We went to breakfast only to find our friendly Lee anna still at work. I asked her if we could stay another day and she said no problem. I asked her about the Harley dealership and laundry. She helped us in both departments. She made our stay at this hotel delightful. The Harley shop was only 3/4 of a mile away. We kept waiting for the rain to lighten but it never did. We finished laundry and decided to ride to the dealership. We got to Privateers Harley at 2:20 on Saturday afternoon. 1-444-464-4647 They close at 2:00 on Sat so we got some beer and went back to the room bummed out. All my wife wanted was a Harley shirt from N.S. So we called them after the trip and they gladly sent us some shirts. The rain continued into the night. It was the smart plan to lay low, we had a great room, we still had a day and a half to get to the ferry in Yarmouth.
Sun 08/19/07 we wake to sunshine and a 8:00 start. We head out to Rt 333 to Peggy's Cove. They claim the lighthouse is the most photographed in the world. I don't know how they know that but that's what they claim. The ride to Peggy's Cove and the cove itself is quite stunning with many vistas. There was a native playing a bagpipe which gave you a historic feeling of the N.S. natives. The coastal route dumps you back on Rt 3 you need to look for the Lighthouse Trail signs to see the coast.
Riding down Rt 3 along Mahone Bay is all great views of the ocean and smaller fishing villages. We stopped in Western Shore for a sea side lunch right on the water. I did not write down the name but had a great lobster roll. We were outside enjoying the view when five Harley's pulled in. They came right over and began talking with us. They were just out for a Sunday ride. They were very helpful about roads, places to stay and fuel stops. They actually adopted us for the afternoon which was one of the best parts of the trip. We followed them down Rt 324 to Lunenburg to Rt 332 past Rose Bay to Bridgewater where they were begging to turn back to Halifax. We were trying to make Liverpool.
When we pulled over we all shook hands and we thanked them for their generous hospitality. One of the gentleman gave me his phone number and told me not to hesitate to call if we had a problem or on our next return trip. He said take a left at the bridge and a state liquor store will be on your right next to a gas station. Not much between Bridgewater and Liverpool but its great road with great views about 2 Hours. He was right on all accounts. I have made contact with him since the trip and will look forward to riding with him again. I told him about this site and am hopefully he will post his favorite rides soon. The coastal route to Liverpool follows Rt 331 and is extremely scenic. We landed in Liverpool at 6:30 and got one of two rooms left at Lane's Priveteer Inn located at 27 Bristol Ave 902-354-3456 at a cost of $109.00 per night with a restaurant and entertainment. We logged 183 miles. The food was great. The room were nice and clean within walking distance from town.
Mon 08/20/07 our last day in N.S. the sun is blinding and warm. Looking at the map we realize that we will not be able to hit every coastal road and make the ferry by 3:00. We rode the coastal road out to White Point and back to the 103. We skipped the next two points and ventured out to Jordan Bay landing in Shelburne. We stopped at the information center and told the woman of our time line. She told us the next two points were a long ride through woods with little coastal views. She suggested take 103 to where Rt 3 broke off to Shag Harbour. This proved to be very scenic coastal road all the way. Once again listen to the locals they are your best asset. From there we took the 103 into Yarmouth and tried to do a little shopping before we got on the ferry. Logging 140 miles
We got settled in the ferry and reunited with the couple we ran into in Baddeck. We traded stories all the way back. Customs was just about the same returning, you needed your entry card filled out and a picture I.D. In 2008 you will need a passport no exceptions. The couple asked us where we were staying and we told them. They ended up following us to the Villager Motel in Bar Harbor and getting a room. We had dinner together with our new friends. The next morning we left early, back to reality. We put the bikes back into the trailer and booked back.
We know a return trip is a definite must do. We learned a lot about Nova Scotia and the people that live there. Maybe the next new riders to N.S. will not have to fly quite so blind. A week is not really enough time, two weeks would be much better. I purchased a book called ' The Cabot Trail' text by David A. Harley,no pun intended. Photo's by Warren Gordon MPG Steel Town Publishing Sydney N.S. Several of the photo's are a copy of the photo's in the book. I contacted Mr. Warren Gordon by E-Mail and he gave me authorization to scan the book for web page print. All photo's are of the Cabot Trail. His web site is www.gordonphoto.com go to Gallery - Scenic - and many Photo's will come up for you to view.
My photo's just do not give justice like the book or Warrens gallery. I would be happy to post more of my photo's if interest is shown and more room available. Great history in the book. It would be well worth reading if you are serious about a trip there. Cost about $26.00 The book says it every child's dream to plow snow on the Cabot Trail. I would not want that job. If you go to the web site it will tell you where to purchase 'The Cabot Trail' and other books about Nova Scotia. If you purchase from this site mention ' Open Road Journey' as the link that got you there. Its not the destination it's the journey. Ride Safe!
This is a motorcycle ride in the country of Canada. This motorcycle route has 8 scenery characteristics and other road conditions to help you plan your road trip. This motorcycle map was created by Birdman in September. Click here to see other Motorcycle Roads by Birdman