South Ridge Wilderness Trails

South Ridge Wilderness Trails

Opening February 2024

Trails not groomed until February … but snowshoers/skiers welcome to use the trails. Beginning of February I anticipate grooming again.


Highlands Hostel

Call: 1-902-383-2371
South Ridge Wilderness Trails

Highlands Hostel
"Remember one night is never enough"
"Book one night and you won't regret it, book 3 or more nights and you won't forget it"

Winter fun in Cape Breton - Skiing - Snow Shoeing - Cross country skiing

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Wilderness Trail Skiing

South ridge wilderness trails

902-South ridge Road

South Harbour NS

South Ridge Wilderness Trails

South Ridge Wilderness Trails

901 South Ridge Road

Cape North NS


Call/Text 1-902-371-1112

South Ridge Wilderness Trails

South Ridge Wilderness Trails is located about 8km from the Highlands Hostel at the very end of South Ridge road.  As you drive in to SRWT you get a sense that you are entering a true remote wilderness area.  The trails feature mountains, rivers, waterfalls, old growth forests and an abundance of wildlife. South Ridge Wilderness Trails features 10 km of double track, groomed on weekends or by request, cross country ski trials suitable for classic technique and snowshoeing; snowshoe specific trails that venture into the back country; and the most incredible alpine touring/telemark skiing, split boarding you will find anywhere in the highlands.  It is located in a snow belt that typically dumps gargantuan amounts of snow, and the many ridges extending out from the mountain offer everything from low angle mellow runs for beginners to steep and deep powder runs for adrenaline seekers.    Tommy, the owner/operator at South Ridge Wilderness Trails, offers a back country guide service on the weekends at a very affordable price.  If you want to max out your experience, whether that is exploring the back country on snowshoes or cross country skis, or taking a direct line to the best downhill runs on the mountain, I recommend taking advantage of this service.  Tommy also offers half and full day courses in winter trekking, overnight camping, navigation, etc.  Special events will be run throughout the winter.  A warming hut with wood stove and indoor washroom is available on site. Trail pass fees are $10 adult, $5 student, $20 family.  Sign our guest book and pay trail fees in the warming hut.  There is a donation box if you are feeling inclined, or e-transfer to  South Ridge Wilderness Trails currently does not offer ski or snowshoe rentals.  Check us out on Facebook.  

  • Are the cross country trails suitable for skate skiing?

No.  What I typically tell people is that if they are looking for skate skiing or perfectly groomed trails, they should go to North Highlands Nordic.  South Ridge Wilderness Trails uses homemade, primitive grooming equipment.  We're more about the back country experience, the scenery and wildlife.  A lot of people who come here don't even ski the main trails, they opt to ski in the back country.  For a comparison, the xc trails would be quite similar to Ski Tuonela, but wider.  

  • How far do you have to ski to get to the downhill runs?  

The first run is just 5 minutes from the parking lot, but if you want to get to the really good runs you're looking at 30 minutes to Telemark Hill, 40 to Birthday Ridge and Southeast Ridge, and 45 to The Perch and Sunset Hill.  Of course, it's shorter with me as a guide because I can take direct lines.

  • How do the downhill runs at SRWT compare to North Mountain?

SRWT is better.  North mountain does not have a lot of variety, You go there to ski the steeps.  SRWT has plenty of steep runs, but it also has low angle runs, often right next to the steeps.  So it caters to more abilities.  But the big difference is that the trees are quite tight and there's brush to contend with at North mountain.  SRWT is more gladed out, wider tree spacing and brush is not an issue.  The elevation at North would be a bit higher, but that's relative.  And it's much harder skinning at North mountain.  I do ski at North mountain from time to time, but it's more about exploring new terrain than getting good runs in.  The hills in past Ban Falls actually has better skiing than off the highway on North, but the issue is it takes a couple of hours of skinning to get there.  There's also similar runs over in Aspy Bay, but there tends to be a lot of brush on those hills.

  • How does SRWT compare to Ski Tuonela?

I love Ski Tuonela...nice cabins, trails, and a fun little telemark hill.  I have plans to build cabins here, but that's in next year's schedule.  As far as the skiing goes, my xc trails are very similar to Tuonela, but there is no comparison when it comes to the telemark/alpine skiing.  Tuonela has a low angle, relatively short hill compared to what we have here.  Their run can be super fun, especially on spring corn snow, but it's comparable to our shortest run here.

  • Will I get lost in the back country?  

There is minimal signage here, because I like to keep the area looking untouched.  So it is possible to get turned about, but not really lost... not if you know the following: the ridge is enclosed by two rivers: South Aspy to the south and Middle Aspy to the north.  If you don't know where you are, descend down either side of the ridge until you come to a river.  Follow the river downstream until you see a ski trail.  All trails loop back to the parking lot.

  • Do I have rentals?

No, but I have a lot of gear laying around so I may be able to hook you up if you ask ahead of time.

  • Do I have to worry about coyotes or bears?

No.  This place is wild and coyotes and bears are scared of people so they go out of their way to avoid you.  

  • How big is the property?

155 acres.  But, we're bordered by the Park, which means hundreds of acres to explore during the winter.  

  • Do I need a guide to go into the back country?

No, but there are advantages.  And it also depends on what you're after.  Are you just looking to explore, to see what's over the next hill?  In that case, you can wander around the ridge and have a wonderful time on your own.  But if you have a specific destination in mind, say you want to go to the falls, then it's much easier with a guide.  If you're interested in a back country xc ski, I also recommend a guide unless you have a topo map and compass and know how to use it.  Actually, we have cell coverage here too, so google will also help you out.  There's a common bc trail that often has tracks on it, so you wouldn't need a guide for that.  But, for really long bc skiing, take go with a guide.  Once you get up over the mountain you're deep in the highlands.  Weather can change fast, possible whiteout conditions, etc.  Best to be with an experienced trekker.  I also know the area pretty much all the way to Cheticamp Lake, so if you have a specific destination, or if you just want to explore a long way, I can take you.  Now here's what I tell people looking for the downhill runs.  I can tell you how to get there, but you may or may not find it.  You'll certainly find a spot, and you'll probably have an awesome time, but you likely didn't find the best spot.  The guide can take you directly to the best spot.  And the best spot changes daily, sometimes within the day.  And not only will a guide take you to the best spot, you'll get there much faster.  So ultimately, you'll be skiing more and skinning less.  My guide fee is $50.  And, if it's just 1 to 3 people, I throw in the option to take the snowmobiles as far as the park line, which means even less skinning.  Taking the snowmobiles would cost an extra $20 per machine. 

  • Tell me about the winter trekking course you offer.

The course teaches you all you need to know about traveling and camping in winter.  I taught this course for St.F.X for years; I offer the 1 day (overnight option included) condensed version.  I will set you up with the gear - toboggans, snowshoes, hot tent, wood stove, etc - and teach you all the essentials.  I also offer courses in igloo and quinzie building... authentic, I was taught by inuit elders.  I spent 3 years in Nunavut learning and practicing traditional inuit skills.  I also teach a Navigation course.  XC instruction. etc.  The cost for the courses is $25 with a minimum of 4 participants.

  • Are you dog friendly

Yes we are.

  • Do you have special events?

We will this year (2023/24). 

  • Group snowshoe. 
  • Group ski form Mica Hill to South Ridge.  Etc.   

Drop us an e-mail to see what events you can join in on.



South Ridge Wilderness Trails
South Ridge Wilderness Trails
XC Skiing
South Ridge Wilderness Trails

Winter at the Hostel

Highlands Hostel

Our Backyard - Our Playground

Yours to explore and Yours to enjoy

This winter why not come and enjoy what mother nature gives to us in amazing amounts...Snow and lots of fun. The perfect winter weekend getaway.

South Ridge Wilderness trails is only 8 km's from the hostel so go cross country skiing, snow shoeing, on groomed and back country trails.

Apres Ski

Your  Accommodations

After a days skiing and having the best fun of your life,come back to the Highlands Hostel and snuggle up to our warm fire,enjoy a hot chocolate and dream about the next days fun.

Enjoy some music, play some board games, good company, and plan your next days adventures.

Cape North Weather

This is a magical time of the year for us here in Cape North, people ask us what is there to do there in the winter?.

Spend a weekend with us and we can fill your phone with spots to see and maybe, just maybe you will have time to see them all, if not you know where we are for your next visit.

Make sure you and your vehicle are prepared for our winter wonderland weather.

H: -4°
L: -10°
Monday, 06 January
See 7-Day Forecast
Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
-3° -3° -5° + + -6°
-11° -8° -9° -9° -7°

let it snow, let it snow,let it snow

This is just the start of our winter December 18th 2018 North Mountain, they figure the drifts are over 12 feet

South Ridge Wilderness Trails
South Ridge Wilderness Trails
South Ridge Wilderness Trails
South Ridge Wilderness Trails
South Ridge Wilderness Trails

Your winter wonderland weekend getaway

South Ridge Wilderness Trails

Here’s what Tineke wrote

“Great place to stay! We felt very welcome and with the other guests we had a good time! Because of the storm no electricity for a few hours but right away cosy oil lamps everywhere. What a romantic evening!”

Ski cape breton
South Ridge Wilderness Trails
South Ridge Wilderness Trails
South Ridge Wilderness Trails

Winter at Cape North Pole

Book now for your winter getaway, come snowshoeing with us this winter, spend a memorable time with us in Cape North Pole, we can accommodate up to 25, so bring family and friends for a winter never to be forgotten. We could still have our 18 foot Christmas tree standing  Book here

Christmas tree

Guess who did some fishing before coming to the hostel

Santa with lobsters

After his nap he let us take some photo's,before he left

Santa posing for pictures

You never know who will be staying here..Ho Ho Ho!

Yes we have caught him taking a well deserved nap in front of our roaring fire, don't worry kids we wake him up and send him on his way, well fed and warm for his journey.Don't forget your bag of toys Santa.

Santa at Highlands Hostel