The Great Trail’s Bras d'Or Lakes water route opens in Cape Breton


The Nova Scotia Trails Federation (NS Trails) and the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) are pleased to announce the official opening of the The Great Trail’s Bras d'Or Lakes Water Route on Sunday, June 11 at 1:00 p.m. in Iona, Victoria County. 

The 377-kilometre Bras d’Or Lakes Water Route follows the perimeter of Nova Scotia’s “inland sea.” Water routes are a vital part of The Great Trail and of Canada's history. Canoe and portage routes dating thousands of years were essential role to First Nations peoples, followed by early traders, explorers and settlers. Currently, The Great Trail includes 11 water routes, comprising 26% of the 21500-kilometre trail. 


“The Bras d’Or Lakes Water Route is a true partnership effort, connecting the many communities along the Bras d’Or, the First Nations and their historic water routes, and four municipalities,” says Blaise MacEachern, chair of the NS Trans Canada Trail Committee. “Taking the long way around the Bras d’Or is the best way to experience this world-renowned destination and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It’s a true keystone for both Nova Scotia and The Great Trail.”

Strategically spaced water access points along the route provide paddlers with a launch area and staging, washrooms, changing facilities, and paddling gear storage areas.

The Bras d’Or Lakes Water Route project will be highlighted by water access point openings on Saturday, June 10 at Johnstown Landing and Grand Narrows, followed by a ceremony on Sunday, June 11 at Iona Port. Iona’s access point opening ceremony also marks the official opening of the entire Bras d’Lakes Water Route, and is part of Iona’s Àros na Mara World Oceans Day Festival.

The project was made possible by the work of local volunteers, and was partially funded by the Trans Canada Trail, the federal and provincial governments, and the four municipalities bordering the Bras d’Or Lakes. In 2016, RBC donated $1 million to support the development of three of The Great Trail's signature paddling routes, including The Bras d'Or Lakes Water Route, the Sea to Sky Marine Trail in British Columbia, and the Chief Whitecap Waterway in Saskatchewan.


This website was made possible by the generous financial support of the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness.