Coming out of the woods

Shunpiking Magazine
February-March 1998, Volume 3, Number 18

NORTHERN CAPE BRETON is famous for snow and ski trails. Many of us have skied the great track at Cape North. Then there's all those ski trails in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Cape Smokey's alpine skiing, Margaree Valley's hundreds of kilometres of trails; the list goes on. But!. . . would you believe, I recently discovered a 'shunpiker's dream come true' hidden on the largest hillsides at St. Anne's Harbour. It's called "The Tuonela Trail."

You'll ski five kilometres away from the Cabot Trail on a packed base before the system of over 22 km of trails even begins. Up and down on a twisting old cart trails that winds through hardwood of beech, maple, birch and white pine trees. Many of the downhill runs have s-shaped curves to challenge your skills! You'll discover after skiing through the hemlocks a chalet and lodge. Not just a lodge!, but a wonderful place.

A core group of local supporters working together, rallied by Chris and Annie Law, have created the Chalet and Lodge, and are willing to share this wonderful ski facility with us; Nova Scotia shunpikers. The lodge not only rents special gear for telemark skiing, they also provide a pulley to transport you and your excitement to the top, 1000 feet above sea level. You'll telemark between 100-year old sugar maple and yellow birch trees. Zigzagging half a mile down hill to the lodge for a warm up and then perhaps a moonlight ski through the hemlock woods.

Looking high up through the tops of the evergreen hemlock forest you may hear great horned owls calling for their mates. The crisp magic of winter in Cape Breton will fill your little ski shoes with more of yourself than ever before. Just you and wilderness, and the merger of you becoming one with or part of winter, here in Northern Cape Breton.

Chris and Annie Law are truly interesting and charming hosts. I have experienced their hospitality and their great sense of humour. If you like quality, kindness and love in a craftman's work, then what Annie and Chris have created here in the woods of Northern Cape Breton will certainly make you smile.

Excerpts from Tuonela's Log Book

February 4, 1997, -7C Sunny

A gorgeous day!

Two of us skied to trail head and beyond to both 'Lakes', wrote the word 'Tuonela' on the lake in 10' high letters with our skies. The turning was again easy on the tele hill. "It doesn't get much better 'n today."

Wednesday, March 15, 1997

A lovely day! The Chalet is certainly a treasure here under the canopy of hemlock trees. My husband and I had a wonderful ski through the hills. Thank you for having us at what is obviously a special place for many.

If you go

The Tuonela Trail, X-Country and Telemark, Goose Cove, Cape Breton, (sno-fone) 902.295.7694. Located on the Cabot Trail at exit 11 of the TCH, 10 km past the Gaelic College near Goose Cove Pottery.

RR#4, Baddeck, NS, Canada B0E 1B0
Web site:

*Naturalist, guide, story teller, interpreter for Parks Canada and writer David Lawley is contributing editor, northern Cape Breton, shunpiking magazine. A resident of Margaree Forks, he is the author of A Nature and Hiking Guide to Cape Breton's Cabot Trail (Nimbus Publishing) and Whale Watching in the Maritimes (Nimbus Publishing)

Photos courtesy of Ski-Tuonela

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