Friday, 27 July 2012

Gillis Lake, Cape Breton Regional Municipality
N 46° 02.957 W 060° 23.564

20T E 701 704 N 51 02828

RIVER: Gillis Brook
CLASS: plunge
SIZE: 20', 25'
RATING: outstanding (****)

TRAIL: woods trail
DISTANCE: <100m to either fall
CONDITIONS: moderate

Geocache: GCJ7EY

NS Atlas Page: 14/W4
NS topo map: 011K01 (Sydney)

photo: Amanda MacLoed (2013)

DIRECTIONS: from Sydney, take exit 6W off HWY125, southwards onto HWY4. Follow this road 13km and turn right onto HWY216 towards Eskasoni First Nations. Turn right again, after 1.9km, onto Gillis Lake
Road. Proceed north on this road for 3.5km, until you come to a dip in the road and the bridge over Gillis Brook. Park before the bridge off the side of the road.

photo by Rob Romard (2014)

Trail Description: there are two waterfalls at this site, one oneither side of the bridge. For the lower falls, which are more accessible, follow any of the numerous trails on the downstream side of the bridge. The approach to the base of the lower falls is very steep, but there are easily noticed trails that you can follow down to the base of the gorge. The upper falls have access issues, as the landowner who owns the property surrounding them has placed "No Trespassing" signs up on the trail leading upstream from the bridge to the base of the upper falls. The owner lives in the house at the top of those falls, and it is understandable, given the destructive nature of many, that he would want his privacy. Requesting permission from him directly is advisable. 

(the Upper Gillis Lake Falls)

It should be noted, as there are several places in Nova Scotia that suffer similar access issues, that The Angling Act of Nova Scotia allows free access to residents, provided they are carrying thier valid Nova Scotia Fishing License up ALL streams, rivers and lakes in the province for the purpose of fishing, as well as free access across any uncultivated lands and edges of streams. This Act also forbidsany fires to be made in the access of these locations on private land. 

I always strive to get permission to approach a set of falls if it runs close to or thru conspiciously private property. Most people are quite allowable when you show them your camera and GPS, and oftentimes have stories about the history of the falls.

These are very popular falls, well frequented in the summer for swimming in the pool below the lower falls, and a quick internet search will turn up quite a few photographs of this site, as well as Youtube videos. It is well worth the visit, even if you choose to only visit the lower falls.

Called "Poqtewktekenk" by the Mi'kmaq, Gillis Brook empties MacDonalds Lake and Gillis Lake into the Bras D'Or. Fishermen will find white perch and yellow perch along this brook and in the deep pools below the falls.