Bras D’Or Lake Ride Preview

Bras D’Or Lake Ride Preview

This 218 mile ride has great water views, curvy roads, 2 ferry rides, and 2 very good things to see. Highlights include the Cabot Trail along St. Ann’s Bay, the Englishtown Ferry, Sydney Harbour, Mira Gut, the Fortress of Louisbourg, the Mira River, Trout Brook Rd, Blacketts Lake Rd, Chapel Rd, the Highland Village Museum, and the Little Narrows Ferry.

Englishtown Ferry in NS

Englishtown Ferry in NS

This ride begins with Route 105 north to St. Ann’s Bay. Turn left on the Cabot Trail and ride the curves north along the shore of St. Ann’s Bay. The road travels inland for a bit before rejoining the bay. Turn right on Route 312 and ride south to the Englishtown Ferry (free.) This cable ferry carries traffic across the mouth of St. Ann’s Bay. The ferry runs 24 hours, on demand, and takes only a few minutes to cross the narrow channel.

Ride south on Route 312 and then turn left on Route 105. St. Anne’s Overlook and the Seal Island Look-Off offer nice views on the way to the hairpin. Negotiate the hairpin and drop down towards Stewart’s Cove. Cross Great Bras D’Or and then hug the lakefront on Hillside Boularderie Rd. Turn right on Route 105 and cross to North Sydney and Sydney Harbour. Stop at the Tim Horton’s for restrooms and snacks.

Follow the harbour on Seaview Drive, Route 239, and Westmount Rd to Sydney. Take Route 125 and Louisbourg Highway to the Mira River. Turn left on Homes Rd and follow the river north. The road turns east and reaches the ocean and Route 255 at Mira Gut. Turn right and ride past a nice view at Mira Gut Beach Provincial Park (restrooms.)

2 motorcycles parked with view of Louisbourg Harbor and Fortress of Louisbourg in Louisbourg, NS

Fortress of Louisbourg View in Louisbourg, NS

Continue on Mira Bay Dr and Louisbourg Main-a-Dieu Rd around the bay and along the ocean to the town of Louisbourg. Turn right into the Fortress of Louisbourg Visitor’s Center if you wish to tour the fort and/or use the restrooms. A bus will take you from the Visitor’s Center to the Fortress ($18.75 CAD, $16.00 for age 65 and older.) At the fortress, one can explore a one-quarter  reconstructed section of colonial Louisbourg with costumed guides and exhibits.

Fortress Louisbourg Zoomed

Fortress Louisbourg

Louisbourg was of great strategic importance during the struggle between the British and the French for control of North America. Louisbourg guarded the St. Lawrence and prevented British ships from attacking Quebec. Its two sieges, especially that of 1758, were turning points in the Anglo-French struggle for what today is Canada.

If not visiting the fort, continue to the parking area up ahead on the left for distant views of the fortress. Return to the town. The Spoondrift Cafe is a great choice for lunch (Tue-Sun 12-8, closed Monday.) Coast at the North Star is another great option.

Continue through town and then stay left onto Louisbourg Highway heading north. Stop for gas at the Shell at Albert Bridge next to the Mira River. Turn left on Trout Brook Road for a fun curvy ride along the river. Turn right on Gabarus Highway and ride north back to Sydney. In Sydney, turn left on Route 125 and then left again on Coxheath Rd and ride along the Sydney River. Turn left on Blackett’s Lake Rd for some great views of the lake. Turn right on Route 4 and ride a few miles to Bras D’Or Lake. Turn right on Chapel Rd and cross the East Bay. There are some dramatic views during this crossing.

Highland Village Museum in Iona, NS

Highland Village Museum

Turn left on Route 216 (Eskasoni Rd) and ride it all the way to Route 223 at Grand Narrows. Turn left on Route 223 and cross the Narrows to Iona. Turn right and climb the hill to the Highland Village Museum. Highland Village is an outdoor living history museum and Gaelic folklife centre that illustrates the story, culture and identity of Nova Scotia Gaels. The museum is located on 43-acres with great views of Bras d’Or Lake in Iona. The 11 historic buildings are staffed by costumed animators who share Gaelic culture and identity. The site has a nice gift shop ($15.00 CAD, $12.00 CAD age 65 and older.) Hours are 10:00 – 4:30. The parking lot has a great view of the lake and surrounding hills and is worth a stop even if you do not see the museum.

Little Narrows Ferry in Nova Scotia

Little Narrows Ferry

Leave the museum and turn right on Route 223 for a very scenic ride on good pavement. Stay on Route 223 to Little Narrows. Take the free Little Narrows cable ferry across to Route 105. Turn right on Route 105 and ride to the hotel.