Buttereau Hiking Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park
I've been bugging Roman to take me on this trail for quite some time now. It's less than a ten minute drive from home but it seems there's always been something else going on that has prevented us from hiking here, until now. And I think after this hike - I'll be coming here a lot more often! We decided that we wanted a good walk in the woods, nothing super strenuous or overly physically challenging, but it had to be in the Acadian forest. AND after the turkey weekend we needed to be moving!!
We parked our vehicle at the Buttereau trail entrance, the one next to the ocean and started the hiking from there. Buttereau means "small hill" in French. The first part of the trail is a slight incline, which immediately turns into a descend. From there you are faced with a fork in the road, which way to go? We took the route towards the right, that leads to the ocean view points. I always love the ocean here, and on this day it was actually fairly calm. The winds weren't gale force and there wasn't a drop of rain in the sky. Bliss. We stood there for a bit just taking in the scenery.
This area is rich in Acadian history. There once was a bridge that crossed the Cheticamp River and allowed passage for the Acadians that lived here, to reach Cheticamp. The trail narrows a bit as it goes deeper into the woods; it feels so sheltered and secure here, especially on days when the wind blows from the north. As you go further along the trail you'll notice several rock foundations that are the remains of Acadian houses. Nature has slowly taken these back, which has created a really unique feeling about them. It's almost haunting when you look at them. Beautiful, but haunting. You get the sense of how harsh life must have been during those days. These houses contained families of ten or more children and they weren't grand in size. Families must have been used to spending close quarters with each other, and would've likely spent as much time outside as possible. I know I would have at least!!
What's neat about this trail is that you can just do the Buttereau trail loop, which is about 1km or you can continue onwards for another 2km on Le Chemin du Buttereau - which translates to "the little hill road". From there you can either walk the 2km back to the Buttereau loop, or walk on the road back to your car (that's what we did, but it was a bit more breezy and lots of traffic - so if you do this be careful!). It's a beautiful sheltered trail that would've been used as a road by the Acadians that lived here. I felt so calm, so at ease here in the woods. The forest is just breathtakingly beautiful. The large trees of various species were out of this world from what I'm used to seeing in Cheticamp. Maple trees actually grow to their natural size here - instead of the stunned growth out in Cheticamp due to the “Suetes” - the south-east winds that can easily gust up to 180km.
Next time that you're in the Cheticamp Parks Canada area take the time to hike the Buttereau, you'll be glad that you did! We hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving weekend as well!