“Sections of the trail are strenuous with steep ascents and descents. This fantastic trail should only be attempted by self-sufficient, experienced hikers – who have a good head for heights.” This was the guide book description of the Cape Chignecto coastal hiking loop, a 52 kilometer (32 mile) trek of 3-4 days. Still we were undeterred.
The park is at the head of a long peninsula jutting into the Bay of Fundy. The trek runs right along the edge of towering sea cliffs diving 180 meters (600 ft.) straight down into the bay where the world’s highest tides lap at their bases. We reserved cabins along the way which would lighten our load without the need for a tent. The biggest difficulty would be day two which was going to be 19.8 kilometers owing to the availability of cabins. After calculating the miles at 12.3 I figured “that’s nothing!”…hah!
Day one had a heavy mist and fog and started along a beach at low tide before climbing several steep 45 degree switchbacks and through a fairy tale land of old growth forest. We reached the cabin after 4.5 hours and watched the sun set from a high cliff with a dense fog blanketing the sea below.
Day two was a different story altogether. The views were jaw dropping but the trail became even more challenging with slick tree roots and traversing mud bogs sometimes dropping all the way down to the sea and then back up again to high cliffs. In just short of 12 hours we arrived at our cabin, beyond completely spent.
Day three was a bit more reasonable but we slowed to a snail’s pace feeling the soreness of the previous day. When it was over we were glad we had done it but resigned ourselves to day hikes for the foreseeable future.