One of Nova Scotia's signature events is just around the corner. Next week the 6th annual Hike the Highlands Festival will take place in Cape Breton from September 11-20. This ten day hiking festival features 24 guided hikes, four workshops, a great evening program of activities and the new Hikers Distance Award Program of 100, 50 and 25 km with lapel pins given to hikers who achieve their goals. The festival is attracting hikers from Great Britain, US and in Canada from BC to Newfoundland & Labrador.
The Highlands of Cape Breton are situated on the world renowned Cabot Trail and offer some of the most spectacular coastal scenery and hiking trails in the world. A portion of this significant example of Canada's natural heritage has been designated as a national park. Thirteen of the 24 guided hikes in the Hike the Highlands Festival are located in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park with the other eleven hikes in the highlands of Cape Breton. The hiking trails are located nearby in 10 communities along the Cabot Trail and Highlands of Cape Breton including Cheticamp, Pleasant Bay, Meat Cove, Sugar Loaf, Cape North, White Point, Neil's Harbour, Ingonish, Ingonish Beach, North River, and Indian Brook.
Nine new hikes will be introduced in this year's festival and four popular hikes are coming back. "The goal is to provide hikers with choices each day," says Lisa Dixon, Chair, Guide Committee, " a short hike or a longer hike with various distances. Dixon states hikers should wear hiking boots to provide good support and protection for your feet. The full schedule of guided hikes is available on the Hike the Highlands Festival Website along with descriptions of each trails.
New in 2009, four workshops will be offered to hikers at this year's festival and they include Outdoor Nature Photography with Wally Hayes, Introduction to GPS - instructor Derek Quann, Nordic Walking - hiking with poles - instructor Linda Murray and Introduction to Geocaching with Angie Payne. Workshops are limited to 25 participants and require pre-registration.
After a great day of hiking, hikers can take off their hiking boots and enjoy an outstanding evening program during the hiking festival. The lineup of evening activities includes opening & closing ceremonies of the festival, evening presentations, a social evening with Acadien & English Folklore music in Cheticamp, theatre in Ingonish,plus a hikers night at Thirsty Hikers Pub. Evening presentations include - Journey into the World of Digital Photography" with Wally Hayes, Species at Risk - Cape Breton Highlands National Park with John Francis Lane, Trekking in Central & South America with Marie Stradeski and Challenges, Celebrations and Cyclists: Talk on Hiking in Europe with Lori Burke.