Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Mary Ann Falls Road closed to vehicles

Issued: December 07, 2023

INGONISH, NOVA SCOTIA, DECEMBER 7, 2023, 1:00 pm AST — As Cape Breton Highlands National Park experiences more frequent extreme and damaging weather events, Parks Canada is taking action to ensure safe, sustainable experiences for visitors in a fiscally responsible way by adapting certain visitor offers.

Visitor safety is a top priority for Parks Canada. In 2021, after a series of washouts rendered the road impassable, as well as repeated attempts to repair the road, the difficult decision was made to close Mary Ann Falls Road to vehicular traffic. This former alignment of the Cabot Trail was designed in the 1920s and was decommissioned in the 1950s once the modern coastal alignment was constructed. After this change, Parks Canada strived to maintain road access to Mary Ann Falls. However, numerous extreme weather events, the unique alignment of the existing road, and ongoing safety and sustainability issues have made maintaining the road for vehicle access increasingly challenging.

Repeated extreme weather events have caused continuous, irreparable damage to Mary Ann Falls Road in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, resulting in the difficult decision to permanently close this secondary road to vehicles.

Mary Ann Falls has long been a favourite destination for visitors to Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Parks Canada is committed to protecting ecological integrity within national parks while providing high-quality and meaningful experiences to visitors, including maintaining access to Mary Ann Falls. The road to the falls will be converted to a sustainable hiking and mountain biking trail. The newly designed and constructed trail is expected to open during the 2024 visitor season. The stairway to the falls, which had been damaged during multiple storm events, will be rebuilt to allow access to both the top and bottom of the waterfall. The picnic shelter, pit privy, and bollards will be removed at the former Mary Ann Falls Day Use Area, and the area will be remediated to its more natural state.

The Branch Pond Look-off Trail, with trailhead access via the Mary Ann Falls Road, was closed during the 2023 season due to an unsafe bridge near the beginning of the trail. Due to public safety concerns, Parks Canada will be removing the unsafe bridge and no longer maintaining the trail. Individuals interested in accessing the backcountry in this portion of the park are encouraged to contact Parks Canada visitor services for routing options to access these areas.

Parks Canada appreciates the public’s patience as we work to reopen visitor access to Mary Ann Falls. Information on this project will be shared as work progresses.

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