On The Trails Highlights
Ice skating, animal tracks in the snow, raptors, and arctic waterbirds are the themes for January. Waterbirds from the north, wintering in the unfrozen waters are highlighted by Bufflehead, Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, and Lesser Scaup and can number in the thousands. The concentrations of waterbirds draw in a variety of raptors; expect to spot a red tailed hawk or Bald Eagle soaring overhead. Open waters can be found near the Fishway (via Princess Point), or Spencer Creek (via Marshwalk). Long views of the area and the amazing water carved rolling escarpment landscape are available from the George North, Bulls Point, and Pine Point Lookouts on the north shore of Cootes Paradise, and the new Sassafras Point lookout on the south shore.
Skating on Cootes Paradise Marsh at the Princess Point access is possible weather permitting. Information on ice thickness status is available on our Facebook page as well as on a sign at Princess Point. The water is currently very shallow under the ice, with just 8 inches (20cm) of water the Princess Point Bay. RBG staff will be periodically re-flooding the bay in an effort to maintain skating conditions during the winter.
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: All trails and parking lots except Rock Chapel are open. The Captain Cootes Trail and the Grindstone Marsh Boardwalk is undergoing renovations, but remains open throughout this process.
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.