Middle Head is a pretty easy out and back trail, mostly through the woods, with a couple of peek-a-boo views and a nice viewpoint at the end. It's family friendly, located close to tourist accommodation and Parks Canada offers guided hikes on this trail. All of which means it's fairly busy. Of the three hikes we did in Cape Breton, this was our least favourite.
Of the more than two dozen hiking trails in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Skyline Trail is consistently rated in the top three. It's often called the "can't miss" hike along the Cabot Trail. Makes sense: it's fairly short, relatively scenic (especially at sunset), is frequented by moose and allows visitors to choose between a 6.5 km (4 mile) out and back or 8.2 km (5.1 mile) loop route. So of course we had to go!
There are plenty of day-trip options in the Halifax region. We opted for a five-stop itinerary, beginning with a guided walk in picturesque Lunenburg and ending with a hike in peaceful Polly Cove. In between, we made planned stops at Blue Rocks and Peggy's Cove and an unplanned visit to Oak Island. Total driving distance approximately 250 km (155 miles); total driving time = 3 hrs 40 minutes; total trip time of 8 to 9 hours.
While not the most scenic hike, there is definitely a fun factor to this half-day outing - creek crossings, rock-hopping, pictographs, waterfalls and rock climbers are all appealing. Natural turnaround points are at the waterfall (approx. 2 km return) and at the hoodoos (approx. 6 km return). The steep canyon walls and creek can be a cool respite on hot summer days. In the winter, ice cleats should be considered essential for this trail.
Wind Ridge is a moderately challenging half-day hike just a few minutes east of Canmore in the Bow Valley. There's minimal noise from the TransCanada highway, a good variety of wildflowers and some fantastic views from the ridgeline - including the less familiar "back side" of the Three Sisters. Return distance = 13.6 km (8.5 miles) with total elevation gain of 945 meters (3100 ft). There is one short rock band to navigate.