Government of Nova Scotia Government of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia, Canada


Protected Areas


Fourchu Coast Wilderness Area

Fourchu Coast Wilderness Area Fourchu Coast Wilderness Area protects exceptional coastal lands on Cape Breton’s southeast coast, with over 20 km of shoreline. It is Nova Scotia’s largest coastal protected area.

The diverse coast includes sand and barrier beaches and dunes, small islands, tidal flats, saltmarsh, lagoons, brackish lakes, and low shoreline cliffs. These habitats provide staging and nesting sites for shorebirds, waterfowl and seabirds. Away from the coast, much of the area consists of humid spruce/fir rainforest, windswept coastal barrens, and sprawling wetlands that support rare coastal plain plants.

Protection of these features improves representation of the Fourchu Till Cliffs and Beaches natural landscape in the provincial protected areas network.

This wilderness area offers outstanding nature tourism and outdoor recreation opportunities, such as hiking, beachcombing, bird watching, sea kayaking, canoeing, angling and hunting. An exceptional paddling route between Framboise River and Belfry Lake weaves through interconnected lagoons and brackish lakes, sheltered from the open ocean by barrier beaches and headlands. Another highlight for wilderness adventure is the beach at Capelin Cove and surrounding coastal barrens and shoreline. There are currently no managed hiking trails or portages in this wilderness area.

Several roads cut through the wilderness area; these are not part of the wilderness area and remain open to vehicle use. These include MacDonald Road, Pig Point Road, the road to Stewarts Pond, MacKay Road, and a short forest access road near Mulcuish Lake.

The first 4.5 km of the rough road to Capelin Cove from the paved highway is not part of the wilderness area. The last 800 metres of the road is within the wilderness area. Beyond this point, motorized access is not permitted. This allows vehicle access to within walking distance of the cove for most people, while protecting sensitive coastal barrens and maintaining a unique “wild coast” experience. Other nearby beaches outside of the wilderness area offer direct vehicle access.

Wilderness area designation of an additional 8 hectares at St. Esprit Lake will take effect if overlapped mineral rights expire and no new rights are granted.

Fourchu Coast Wilderness Area was established in 2015. Several coastal properties acquired by the Province were added to the wilderness area in 2023.