On The Trails Highlights
The next generation of life fills the sanctuaries this month: birds are numerous, new fish abound in the wetlands, and butterflies and dragonflies are on the wing. August wildflowers are highlighted by wetland species such as Lobelia siphilitica (blue lobelia), woodland species such as Helianthus strumosus (woodland sunflower) and Campanula americana (tall bellflower) in the meadows. Take a break at one of the six observation platforms overlooking the water. They provide ideal destinations and views of our most spectacular areas, the South Pasture Swamp, Spencer Creek and Hopkins Wood Special Protection Areas.
Many northern birds have begun their southern migrations, with waterfowl and shorebirds now appearing around the river mouths of Grindstone and Spencer Creek. Associated trails and observation points are accessed through either the Cootes Paradise north shore (Arboretum) or Hendrie Valley. Herons of all kinds are also appearing to feast on this year’s bountiful supply of young fish – a result of the high water levels this spring. Canoe launches can be found at Princess Point and Valley Inn.
The Cootes Paradise Fishway, located near Princess Point, operates three times each week and regularly catches some of the many millions of young fish now in the marsh. The Fishway is open to the public during the scheduled operation times, and special school tours for September can be booked through the RBG Nature Interpretive Centre.
You can experience summer through one of the many public programs for kids or adults. Field ID pocket guides are available at Shop @ The Gardens and great lunchtime dining is available at the Gardens’ Café. If you’re looking for a guided hike, try the Walking into Nature (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.
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 27 kilometres 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 only accept cash and do not provide change. An RBG membership provides free parking at the trailheads.