Northern Cape Breton,
Running for roughly 50 kilometres along spectacular, rugged Cape Breton coastline, once completed the Seawall Trail will be the only multi-day coastal hike of its kind along the Eastern Seaboard of North America. Through ongoing engagement with the indigenous community and the Nova Scotia Indigenous Tourism Enterprise Network, the trail is called Jajiktek (pronounced jaw-jick-deck) – a Mi’kmaw name which means “path along the shoreline”.
The Seawall Trail will be located primarily in the Pollett’s Cove-Aspy Fault Wilderness Area, which boasts unique and impressive attributes for outdoor recreation. Canyons that transect the coastal mountains create exceptional topographic and ecological diversity. The five-day wilderness adventure will terminate in the remote and beautiful community of Meat Cove, at the northern tip of Cape Breton Island.
In addition to the multi-day experience, connecting day-use trails will weave through cliffs and coastal canyons on a similar scale to Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Championed by the Seawall Trail Society – a local volunteer-based community group – and supported by an engaged group of stakeholders for the past nine years, the project has strong support from surrounding communities and partners. It will enhance Cape Breton’s reputation as a four-season tourism destination.
In June 2023, the Province announced an investment of $6.4 million in the design and construction the trail, including huts and bridges, as well as marketing, communications and engagement with local Mi’kmaw communities in the traditional district of Unama’kik (Cape Breton). Read more on the announcement here.
The Seawall Trail project is led by the Municipality of Inverness County. The project steering committee, co-chaired by the Seawall Trail Society, will include community and government representatives and provide guidance as the project progresses.
The Municipality of Inverness County and the Seawall Trail Society will work alongside Build Nova Scotia, a Crown Corporation newly launched to drive economic growth in the province.
A shared Undertaking
One of the unique aspects of the Seawall Trail project is the close collaboration between indigenous and non-indigenous stakeholders in the project team.
The indigenous name for Cape Breton Island, where Jajiktek/Seawall Trail is to be built, is Unama’ki – land of fog. The island is part of Mi’kma’ki, the unceded ancestral territory of the Mi’kmaq people which includes all of Nova Scotia and PEI, part of the Gaspé Peninsula, Newfoundland and most of New Brunswick.
The Nova Scotia Indigenous Tourism Enterprise Network has been a key partner in the Seawall Trail for several years. A Mi’kmaq engagement group has been set up to facilitate meaningful engagement with the community. This has enabled the project to benefit from the knowledge and experience of Mi’kmaq Elders.
This level of collaboration between indigenous and non-indigenous groups so early the project lifecycle is new in the province of Nova Scotia, and is another way in which the project is a ‘trailblazer’.
Read more about the project, including the Trail Concept here.
Background + quick facts
- The Municipality of the County of Inverness is leading the Seawall Trail project.
- A project steering committee, co-chaired by the municipality and Seawall Trail Society, will provide guidance as the project progresses.
- The society was formed in 2014 to develop northern Cape Breton’s natural walking assets.
- Build Nova Scotia will provide project management and administration services to the municipality for design and construction of the trail.
- The municipality will work with the society and Build Nova Scotia to support community engagement and ongoing project communications.
- The trail will be a hand-built, 18-inch backcountry footpath. Construction is anticipated to start in Spring of 2024 with completion by Summer of 2026.
- Camping will not permitted along the trail corridor, although there will be several huts that can be booked for overnight stays.
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*Cover Photo & Gallery Credit: Seawall Trail Society