Exploring Meat Cove: A Hidden Gem Along the Cabot Trail

meat cove wide view


(Photo: Sayantan Basu)

Welcome, fellow adventurers, to a journey off the beaten path, where rugged cliffs meet the roaring Atlantic and history whispers through the mist. Today, we're diving into the captivating allure of Meat Cove, a hidden gem nestled along the iconic Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, Canada. Join me as we unravel the rich tapestry of history, folklore, and indigenous heritage that makes this coastal enclave a must-visit destination for explorers seeking to immerse themselves in the raw beauty of Atlantic Canada.

Introduction: Discovering Meat Cove


meat cove trail map

 (Photo: Meat Cove Campground)


Tucked away at the northernmost tip of Cape Breton Island, Meat Cove beckons travelers with its remote charm and untamed wilderness. As you journey along the Cabot Trail, you will eventually find yourself at a crossroads as you enter the tiny Village of Cape North - here you will have the choice of continuing along the official Cabot Trail or taking the road less traveled and taking the road to Meat Cove. Though the sign at the turnoff indicates that your destination lies a mere 28 kilometers away, this distance is not to be taken lightly, or quickly for that matter. As you make your journey off the Cabot Trail, towards Meat Cove, there will be plenty of opportunities to stop for pictures and take in the breathtaking scenery. There are also a couple of tiny villages scattered along the road, holding close to the shore.


red cabin


(Photo: Rick-n-Karen)

The first few kilometers after Cape North, you will find yourself at Aspy Bay Provincial Park, which is a great spot to stop for pictures and if you are so inclined there are picnic tables there as well. Soon you will find yourself passing through a small collection of houses that is named Capstick. After Capstick, the paved road comes to an end and the last eight kilometers are on a gravel road, making Meat Cove one of the only villages in Nova Scotia that is not accessible by paved road.


meat cove bumpy roads


(Photo: CBC Nova Scotia)

After a slightly bumpy eight-kilometer, you will emerge from the forest and be at the literal end of the road in the spectacular locale that is Meat Cove. Looking out at the open Atlantic the next landmass is Newfoundland, over a hundred miles away to the north.  Surrounded by towering cliffs and crashing waves, this rugged coastal community offers a glimpse into a world untouched by time, where nature reigns supreme and the spirit of adventure thrives.


meat cove sign


(Photo: Zac Kurylyk)

History Unveiled: The Origins of Meat Cove

To understand the allure of Meat Cove is to delve into its storied past, steeped in maritime history and tales of resilience. Originally inhabited by the indigenous Mi'kmaq people, the area later became a vital hub for European settlers engaged in the fishing and logging industries. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the cove bustled with activity as fishermen and their families sought to eke out a living along its rugged shores. The unique name of the Village is believed to come from two different, but sort of related origins - both meat-related!  One story has it that the early settlers would dry moose meat in the open air during hunting season and the other origin story came from the smell of cooking meat that sailors could catch downwind as they approached the cove from many miles away. The cove was a place to layaway and hunt and get fresh water before sailing on.
Folklore and Legends: Mysteries of the Cove
Like many remote coastal communities, Meat Cove is shrouded in folklore and legends passed down through generations. From tales of ghost ships haunting the mist-shrouded waters to whispers of hidden treasures buried beneath the rocky cliffs, the cove is a place where imagination runs wild and the line between myth and reality blurs. One particularly intriguing legend tells of a mysterious sea creature known as the "Meat Cove Monster," said to lurk in the depths of the Atlantic, waiting to ensnare unsuspecting sailors in its grasp.


First Nations Heritage: Honoring the Mi'kmaq Legacy


Long before the arrival of European settlers, the land surrounding Meat Cove was home to the indigenous Mi'kmaq people, who have inhabited the region for thousands of years. With a deep connection to the land and sea, the Mi'kmaq lived in harmony with nature, drawing sustenance from the rich bounty of the Atlantic and surrounding forests. Today, their legacy lives on in the form of ancient petroglyphs etched into the rocky cliffs, serving as a poignant reminder of their enduring presence and cultural heritage.


meat cove red table


(Photo: openroadodysseys.com)

Preserving Tradition: The Spirit of Community

Despite its remote location, Meat Cove boasts a tight-knit community bound together by a shared love for the land and sea. From traditional ceilidhs and feasts to fishing excursions and storytelling sessions, residents of the cove take pride in preserving their cultural heritage and passing down age-old traditions to future generations. Visitors are welcomed with open arms, and invited to partake in the warmth and hospitality of a community steeped in history and tradition.

Exploring the Wilderness: Adventures Await


meat cove mountain trail


(Photo: Cape Breton Tourism)

For outdoor enthusiasts, Meat Cove is a paradise waiting to be explored, with a wealth of recreational opportunities at every turn. Hiking trails wind their way through lush forests and along rugged coastlines, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Kayakers and paddleboarders can navigate the pristine waters of the Atlantic, while anglers cast their lines in search of the day's catch. Whether you're seeking adrenaline-pumping adventures or quiet moments of reflection, Meat Cove has something for everyone.


meat cove rock


(Photo: Tourism Nova Scotia)

Embracing the Magic of Meat Cove

As our journey through the enchanting landscapes of Meat Cove comes to an end, we're left with a profound sense of awe and wonder at the raw beauty and rich heritage of this hidden gem along the Cabot Trail. From its storied past to its vibrant present, the cove is a testament to the enduring spirit of exploration and the timeless allure of the natural world. So, if you're searching for adventure, history, and a taste of maritime magic, look no further than Meat Cove. Trust me, it's a journey you won't soon forget.



Plan your visit


Stay in touch