Skyline Trail is the most popular and iconic of the trails on Cape Breton Island, and doesn’t disappoint. Skyline Trail begins at a well marked trail head with a good map and lots of parking.
The trail is a little more than 4 miles round trip, or just over 5 for the loop. Skyline is classified as a moderate trail, and that’s a good description. It does feature a little more than 1,000 feet of elevation change, and some of the terrain is rocky and or rooty.
Also, right now (October 2018) the right side of the loop is closed to restore habitat, so we missed a couple of view points on that side. There were still half a dozen or so great overlooks on the side we hiked, each offering a beautiful view of the coastline and Atlantic Ocean.
Either side of the loop ends at the start of the boardwalk, which descends gradually to the Top of the Skyline Trail overlook. The view at the overlook is breathtaking, and totally worth the approximately 1/2 mile of steps included in the boardwalk. There’s an additional stretch of trail after the boardwalk, but it’s also marked off limits for habitat restoration.
We were lucky to visit Cape Breton Island at the start of the fall colors, and were amazed by the amount of ferns turning autumn colors on the Skyline Trail. None of us had seen Fall fern foliage before (say that fast three times), and we all really enjoyed the beautiful colors they brought to the trail.
There were also lots of wild flowers still blooming along the trail, adding to the magical experience.