Three for the Road: Lakeside Drives

Bras d'Or Lake is huge and scenic -- in fact, that's the problem. It's simply too big (and too hard to see from most roads) to be worth the trouble of circumnavigating. I don't know anyone who's ever done it. So what's a traveler to do? Take the lake piece by piece, that's what. Here are my picks for the three best short sections of Bras d'Or to tour by car when you're pressed for time:

  • Drive the stretch of quiet shoreline that begins in Iona and hugs the St. Andrews Channel on Route 223; if you're headed to Sydney, go this way as far as Barrachois. It's about a 40km (25-mile), 45-minute ride -- longer if you stop awhile at the good Highland Village Museum.
  • Another nice section is the hump of land that rises and falls between Dundeed and St. Peter's, which runs attractively over hill and dale. There are two or three different ways you can go; each takes about a half-hour.
  • A third segment is the stretch of Route 4 that heads northeast from St. Peter's to East Bay, running along the eastern arm of the lake as it narrows to a point. You'll get the very best views of the lake from this route, and the best sense of its surprisingly vast size. You'll also pass little coves, a famous tea room, and even a native Canadian reserve (at Chapel Island). This is a longer haul -- about 64km (40 miles) -- but the road is mostly straight and quick, and it'll very likely take you less than an hour to traverse.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.