This 289 mile ride from Moncton, NB to Baddeck, NS follows parts of the scenic Sunrise Trail along Nova Scotia’s North Shore on the Northumberland Strait. This is a higher mileage day so there will not be a lot of long stops or detours. Highlights include the Philip River, Pugwash, the Wallace River, Tatamagouche Bay, Route 256, the Pictou River, Route 4, Route 245, Arisaig, Route 337, Cape George, Antigonish, the Strait of Canso, and Bras D’Or Lake.
Begin the ride by riding Trans Canada Highway 2 south and east to the Nova Scotia border. Proceed to Amherst and turn left on Route 6 and follow it to the coast of the Northumberland Strait in Port Howe. Follow Route 6 east past the Philip River, Pugwash, and the Wallace River to Tatamagouche. The Shell/Robin’s is a good spot for fuel, restrooms, and snacks.
Turn inland on Routes 311 and 256 and cross pretty farmland on nice sweepers to the town of Pictou. There are an Ultramar and a Shell just before the rotary and a Shell/McDonalds just after it. Cross the East River of Pictou and follow Granton Abercrombie Rd to New Glasgow. Take curvy Route 4 to Route 245 in Merigomish.
Now the fun begins! Route 245 and Route 337 to Cape George are the best parts of this ride. Route 245 starts at sea level and gradually climbs while following the Northumberland Strait that separates Nova Scotia from Price Edward Island. Towns on this coast have Scottish names and there are great ocean views. Stop at the pull-off on the left for a great view of Arisaig Harbor and lighthouse. Continue on Route 245 and then make a left on Arisaig Point Rd and ride a short way to Arisaig Wharf. Park near the light and admire the view.
The lighthouse sells ice cream and be sure to visit the new Arisaig Lobster Interpretive Marine Life Centre. The Centre has washrooms, a water bottle filling station, touch tanks and aquariums with local marine species, interactive rope and knot tying, along with many items associated with the history of the local lobster fishing industry. The Centre also includes a scale model Cape Islander lobster fishing boat, information panels, video, and photographs. Cooked lobster is for sale and there is a small gift shop.
Continue north and east on Route 245 to Malignant Cove. The cove was named for the sailing vessel Malignant, which ran aground there during the American Revolution. Bear left on Route 337 near the Cabana Restaurant. The Cabana is a good lunch spot. Route 337 continues high above the ocean. Some refer to this as the “Little Cabot Trail.” The road becomes very scenic as it approaches Cape George. Assess the condition of Lighthouse Road before you fully commit to the short ride to the Cape George Point Lighthouse. The road is dirt and gravel and can be rough sometimes. The views are great
The next part of Route 337 is my favorite. This next section truly does evoke the Cabot Trail with gorgeous views and great curves down to Ballantynes Cove. Be sure to stop at the Look-Off on the left before the cove for a great panoramic view. This pretty cove is named for one of its early settlers, David Ballantyne, a lowland Scotsman and British soldier who served in the 82nd regiment during the American Revolution and who received a grant for military service.
Ballantyne’s Cove has a small fishing harbour that is a main point for Japanese merchants looking for sushi-grade Atlantic bluefin tuna. There is also the Ballantyne’s Cove Bluefin Tuna Interpretive Centre as well as Ballantyne’s Cove Beach. The “Fish and Ships” take out restaurant is located on-site.
Route 337 becomes a nice sweeper road with nice views of St. George Bay and Antigonish Harbour all the way to the town of Antigonish. A good place to eat in Antigonish is the Brownstone Restaurant on Main Street.
Leave Antigonish and ride Route 4 east. This fun road plays peek-a-boo with Highway 104 all the way to the Strait of Canso.
Cross the Strait and take Highway 105 for a fast run to Baddeck. The highway has great views of Bras D’Or Lake from Whycocomagh to Baddeck.