I have seen a lot of waterfalls so far in my life but this is one that truly stands out. I’ll tell you why in a bit but first a few words of caution. The last 500m or so of this hike had me using a lot of bouldering skills in some very exposed cliffs on the way to the base of the fall. The water level was very high at the time of my hike and because of that I had to choose one side of the river for the whole hike. Judging from satellite imagery, I kind of knew it was going to be difficult on the north side of the brook. That being said, I’ll describe my own hike but I think the better way would be using the forest on the south side of the river to get to the LARGEST waterfall on the Corney Brook system.
This exploration started a while ago as I was looking at a new series of satellite imagery of the Highlands of Cape Breton. One cannot fail to notice a huge white spot set in a ravine or gorge like setting on the main branch of Corney Brook. BTW, another trailpeak entry in this watershed was done by myself a while ago (Secret Corney Brook Fall). I wanted to do this hike in the summer to have more daylight but only managed to get there in mid-afternoon in October so I really had to hurry. My turn around time for the hike was 2 hours one-way so I could get out and back at trailhead around 6pm as sunset was at 630pm.
The start of this hike is the Corney Brook trail in the CBHNP. The first 3.5km are the official trail which finished at the small (20ft) but scenic Corney Brook (tributary) Fall. Then the fun begins. Cross the small tributary brook and follow the main Corney Brook upstream. The first 1.2km or so is quite easy but still requires a bit of bushwacking in a largely deciduous/mature forest. Then you finally come to a point where you cannot just follow the edge of the brook you have to climb uphill quite a lot as there are sheer rock walls on both sides of the brook (46.718470°, -60.881391°) NOTE; if I had a choice this where I would have crossed to the south side of the brook to continue BUT that option wasn’t available on the day of my hike.
Once high enough above the water, I was super lucky to find a small narrow ledge that took me to the cliff’s edge and after a few bouldering moves, I was able to climb back down to the brook After I found an area to climb down, I could finally see a lot of spray ahead and a deafening sound. On the north side of the river, another rock wall begins to form and I could not get to the base of the fall because of it. The water there is super deep. Again if I could have crossed the brook at this point,. I would have a had (I can only presume) an awesome viewpoint of the massive fall (46.718219°, -60.878406°). But instead I had to climb the tall cliffs on the north side of the river and get through some heavy evergreen cover to finally emerge in front and at the top of the fall. My high perch over the fall wasn’t the best for taking pictures but it showed the whole fall. The top tier of the two tier fall is about 20ft and the bottom would be around 50-60ft. Because of my turn around time, I did not have enough daylight to get further upstream. Another 200m or so would have put me in front of what I believe another, smaller, fall..
As you will see from my track, I then decided to try to bypass all the difficult up and downs by the side of the river by going a lot uphill. That turned out to be a mistake as there are many rocky chutes and cliffs that make that journey even harder and perilous. I cannot guarantee that a southern route would be easier but looking at the satellite imagery it seems to be the case. Also hiking at low water levels or summer water temperature might enable you to just stay in the brook the whole time.
Cabot Trail north of Cheticamp. In the CBHNP, park at Corney Brook trailhead (46.725164°, -60.925042°)
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