Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, is home to some of the world’s most spectacular coastal scenery. From dramatic expanses of verdant green oceanfront meadows to the dazzling brilliance of sunlight reflecting off the Atlantic Ocean, those who experience this remote Canadian destination are in for incredible eye-popping displays of Mother Nature.
Cape Breton Island is also a hiker’s paradise, offering splendid hiking opportunities around practically every turn of the road. It’s where we find ourselves today, hiking one of Cape Breton’s more isolated trails. This is a trail where you are more likely to meet up with a herd of horses than other humans!
Our destination? Money Point, located along Cape Breton’s northernmost edge. Our hike? The rough and rugged Money Point Trail. This trail leads hikers down old roads and along trails built by early highland settlers, all the way down to the Atlantic Coast and beyond. Who knows who we might encounter along the way? Maybe a moose secreted in the nearby woods, an eagle flying high above, or maybe, just maybe, a whale off in the distant ocean or a seal hunting in the surf. Grab your walking stick. It’s time to hike!
Tackling the Challenging Money Point Trail
First, let’s find the trail! Most hikers will not reach the Money Point trailhead by motorized vehicle, and will need to complete the final approach either on foot or on mountain bike. That last stretch of service road is quite rough and rugged, not passable by most vehicles.
Found it! Be prepared as the trails weaves its way down to the Atlantic Ocean via a steep and challenging descent of nearly 1,200 feet. With few switchbacks along the way to ease the downward hike, you may want to grab a walking stick. Though not required, it sure can help!
The narrow gravel trail cuts through a copse of woods, eventually giving way to a rugged, sometimes nearly overgrown, dirt path. You’ll know you are nearing the end of that 1,200 foot descent when you can hear the distant sound of ocean waves crashing into shore.
This is what Money Point is all about! Incredible, stunning vistas as far as the eye can see. Listen as the wild ocean spills onto the rocks. Gaze upon the expanse of coastal meadow spread out before you. Capture the moment before hiking the trail off into the distance.
Why hello there! The trail can get crowded at times, though typically not with other hikers! You are more likely to meet a herd of horses than other humans on the hike to Money Point. You may also have to convince them to step aside for you to continue down the trail!
At last, our goal is achieved. We have reached the remains of one of the oldest lighthouses in the region. Envision life in this remote, desolate land. Yes, people once lived out here year round. Someone had to keep that lighthouse working! Or at least they did until automation came along, making daily human lighthouse interaction obsolete at Money Point.
In today’s modern world, it’s hard to imagine a place so beautiful, so peaceful, not another person in sight, and no obvious signs of human habitation beyond an abandoned lighthouse. But it exists, right here in Cape Breton!
Rock Hopping Along the Atlantic Ocean
Though the trail seems to extend forever, and certainly as far as the eye can see, it’s time to turn around and head out. Hope you saved some energy for tackling the climb back up that 1,200 foot trail! Who goes down, must now climb back up.
But not before some rest, relaxation, and perhaps some oceanfront rock hopping. Meander along the rough and rocky shoreline in search of oceanfront treasures. Just be careful! Those waves can be rough, and those rocks slippery.
Hop a few rocks on over to the skeletal remnants of a shipwreck long since left to the ravages of the Atlantic Ocean. The Carita washed up on shore over thirty years ago (December 1975), and pieces still remain, bearing witness to the often harsh reality of the Atlantic Ocean.
Who knows what one may find? Money Point got its name from a French Galleon that crashed in the nearby cove many moons ago, spilling its treasure of gold coins into the ocean. Once upon a time, those gold coins would wash up onto shore. Sorry. No coins found today. Just this modern-day boat debris. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
Sit down, renourish and rehydrate. It’s a perfect oceanfront venue for an energy restorative snack before tackling the upward climb. Perhaps take your shoes off for a refreshingly cool wade into the brisk ocean water, reinvigorating yourself for the trail ahead.
So long Money Point! The time has come to leave our walking sticks behind for the next adventurous hiker, complete with a motivational note of encouragement. Our bikes await for the final stretch of the day, and we are quite tired!
Planning A Money Point Day Hike
Cape Breton Island’s famed Cabot Trail is considered one of National Geographic’s Top 50 Drives Of Lifetime, and a hike to Money Point emphasized just how dramatic and gorgeous this island is! The question remains, though. Where exactly is Money Point?
Money Point is located on Cape Breton Island’s northeastern shore. There are no drivable roads to Money Point, and most people arrive here via the remote and rugged Money Point Trail. This is a back-country trail that should be prepared for in advance to ensure a successful venture. There are no services out here, including cell phones.
The first question you should ask yourself before tackling this challenging hike is whether or not to hire a local guide. Though not required, a local guide has its benefits! Knowing how to find the trailhead as well as current trail conditions, are key to a successful Money Point hike. The right guide can also make the difference between a good hike and an awesome hike.
Whether you hike it alone or with a guide, these tips will help ensure your Money Point hike is as enjoyable as possible.
- Plan for 4 to 6 hours of hiking, maybe more if you hike beyond the lighthouse.
- Consider biking the stretch of old road from the parking area to the trailhead.
- Bring plenty of water for the entire hike. You won’t find fresh water on the trail.
- Bring nourishing snacks. You’ll want to re-energize for the hike back up.
- Wear sturdy shoes, not flip flops or sandals.
- Use a walking stick. We found ours in the woods on the way to the trail.
- Bring extra socks. Ocean rock hopping is fun, but your feet might get wet!
- Pack out all your trash! Leave nothing but footprints behind.
Our Experience – Guide Or No Guide? We hired a local guide who was both intimately familiar with the Money Point Trail and incredibly knowledgeable about local lore. Her guidance and story-telling amped up our hike to a level we would not have achieved otherwise. Our adventure was with Cabot Trail Adventures, and was worth every penny!
Have You Been to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia?
Would we take on the challenges of the Money Point hike again? Absolutely! Every ounce of energy it took to arrive at the Atlantic Ocean was rewarded with experiences and vistas beyond compare. The only thing we would do different is bring an extra pair of socks! We got soaked rock hopping, and slogging uphill in wet socks was less than ideal.
How about you? Have you been to Cape Breton Island? Did you experience the Cabot Trail? Did you take a hike along a remote trail while exploring this wonderfully scenic land? Did you hike to Money Point? Do share!
All images by C.Biederman.
Traveling note: I’m heading out shortly on a two week Italian adventure, and will be taking a break from the blog until my return. No worries! I’ll catch up with everyone upon my return!