Municipality of the County of Inverness

Jajiktek – the Seawall Trail

A unique and challenging wilderness hiking experience is coming to Inverness County

Running for roughly 50 km along spectacular, rugged Cape Breton coastline, once completed the Seawall Trail will be the only multi-day coastal hike of its kind along the Eastern Seaboard of North America. The Seawall Trail will be located primarily in the Pollett’s Cove-Aspy Fault Wilderness Area, which boasts unique and impressive attributes for outdoor recreation. Canyons that transect the coastal mountains create exceptional topographic and ecological diversity.

In addition to the multi-day experience, connecting day-use trails will weave through cliffs and coastal canyons on a similar scale to Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland.

Aerial view of part of the location of the future seawall trail

Credit: Live Life In Tents

Championed by the Seawall Trail Society – a local volunteer-based community group – and supported by an engaged group of stakeholders for the past 9 years, the project has strong support from surrounding communities and partners. It will enhance Cape Breton’s reputation as a 4-season tourism destination.

The province of Nova Scotia has now announced funding and support for the trail to be constructed.

The Seawall Trail project is led by the Municipality of Inverness County. The project steering committee, co-chaired by the Seawall Trail Society, will include community and government representatives and provide guidance as the project progresses. The Municipality of Inverness County and the Seawall Trail Society will work alongside Build Nova Scotia, a Crown Corporation newly launched to drive economic growth in the province.

A shared undertaking

One of the unique aspects of the Seawall Trail project is the close collaboration between indigenous and non-indigenous stakeholders in the project team.

The indigenous name for Cape Breton Island, where the Seawall Trail is to be built, is Unama’ki – land of fog. The island is part of Mi’kma’ki, the unceded ancestral territory of the Mi’kmaq people which includes all of Nova Scotia and PEI, part of the Gaspé Peninsula, Newfoundland and most of New Brunswick.

Nova Scotia Indigenous Tourism Enterprise Network (NSITEN) has been a key partner in the Seawall Trail for several years. A Mi’kmaq engagement group has been set up to facilitate meaningful engagement with the community. This has enabled the project to benefit from the knowledge and experience of Mi’kmaq Elders.

This level of collaboration between indigenous and non-indigenous groups so early the project lifecycle is new in the province of Nova Scotia, and is another way in which the project is a ‘trailblazer’.

A view of the location of part of the future Seawall Trail in Northern Inverness County

The trail concept

The Seawall Trail has the potential to become one of Canada’s iconic wilderness attractions and a world class tourism differentiator for Nova Scotia.

Outdoor enthusiasts taking on the multi-day hike will explore some of Northern Cape Breton’s pristine coastal wilderness while hiking from hut to hut over 5 days. Hut-to-hut hiking has become increasingly popular over the recent decades, including with international travelers.

“Of those travelers who participate in hiking, 1/3 of respondents said a multi-day hike would be the main reason for them to travel to Nova Scotia.”

Source: Tourism Nova Scotia (2019)

The trail experience will last 5 days with 4 unique hut locations along the trail. The hut system will provide a reward for hikers after the challenges of the trail, allowing them protection from extreme weather and significantly lightening their packs.

Meat Cove: Trail’s end

The 5-day wilderness adventure will terminate in the remote and beautiful community of Meat Cove, at the northern tip of Cape Breton Island.

Nova Scotia’s most northerly settlement, Meat Cove has been called ‘360° of beauty’. The village is surrounded by jagged peaks and interconnected mountains where eagles soar above. Its residents are known for their warm welcome as well as their deep love of the unique and fragile natural ecosystem that is their home.

Committed stewards of the land, local residents know that magic surrounds them in Meat Cove, and they are happy to share it with nature enthusiasts from near and far.

Photo of a sunset seen from Meat Cove, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

Credit: Destination Cape Breton

Nature-based tourism appeals to Nova Scotians and visitors alike

The international hiking market is large, and has shown strong growth in the past decade. It is currently one of the hottest trending activities through the adventure travel trade.

Nature-based tourism is increasingly important coming out of the pandemic and its potential contribution to local and regional economic development is significant. Aside from attracting adventure seekers from across Canada and the world, the Seawall Trail will have the appeal to keep Nova Scotians and their dollars local instead of travelling outside the province for this type of experience.

In addition to direct tourism revenue, operation of the Seawall Trail is expected to create jobs and stimulate private investment and business opportunities including guides, tour companies, accommodations, restaurants, transportation, and other adventure tourism operations.

The Seawall Trail is in an ideal location for the development of experiences and activities that will keep people in the area longer. It may also help entice people who’ll want to live and work in rural Cape Breton.

A hiker walks through part of the coastal mountain area that will be the site of the Seawall Trail

 

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