On The Trails Highlights

Spring is in the air, and the calls of chickadees, cardinals and blackbirds can be heard throughout the nature sanctuaries. The warmer winter has left Cootes Paradise without ice to start the month, and with the warm forecast the Fishway at is anticipated to open early.

As of the beginning of March, large flocks of many bird species have already been seen including Tundra Swans on their long journey north. The first spring wildflower, Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) is beginning to bloom and can be found in spring fed lowlands. The best trails to spot the plant include the Grindstone Marsh in Hendrie Valley, Captain Cootes Trail on the north side of Cootes Paradise, and Westdale Ravine Trail on the south side.
When operation of the Cootes Paradise Fishway commences, the first species through will include rainbow trout, northern pike and yellow perch. The schedule starts with only a few baskets, before ramping up for full spring fish migrations in April.
The Bald Eagles have been sighted regularly but have yet to choose a nest tree. They are often seen flying over the Hopkins Wood Special Protection Area along Spencer Creek. The boardwalk views north across Cootes Paradise marsh at Chegwin Trail (south shore), or from the Marshwalk Boardwalk (north side) are the best spots to view this region of Cootes Paradise. Aside from the eagles, the surrounding forest is among the best locations to encounter a pileated woodpecker, possible to seebefore the trees leaf out again.   
Explore and learn with one of the many programs for kids or adults.  Field ID pocket guides are available at the RBG Shop, and great lunch time dining is available at the RBG Centre Greenhouse Cafe. If you’re looking for a guided walk try the WIN walk in Hendrie Valley, or one of our weekly free Sunday Back to Nature walks also listed in our public programs calendar. Walks rotate between four locations, one for each week of the month and are provided by RBG volunteers.


Trail User Notes: Rock Chapel parking lot is closed and will reopen for the season on March 17th, weather permitting. The Captain Cootes Trail below the Nature Centre will be periodically closed for renovations throughout March.

There are five main trailhead locations, Princess Point, Westdale, the Arboretum, Cherry Hill Gate, and Rock Chapel, as well as two canoe launch sites (Princess Point & Valley Inn). These lead to 27km of trails within the sanctuaries as well as links to multiple other regional trails. A fee of $1/hour is required at all trailheads and $3/hour at the Arboretum, excluding special events. The machines do not provide change and accept cash only. An RBG membership provides free parking at the trailheads.