On The Trails Highlights

Spring is in full swing and our trails are packed with natural wonders to enjoy. Highlights include, migratory birds, Cootes Paradise Fishway, Bald Eagles, and forest wildflower (spring ephemerals) in full bloom. Woodland trails with names such as Bridle, Captain Cootes, Grey Doe, Armstrong and Ginger Valley abound with flowers carrying names like trillium, trout lily, and toothwort. Guided wildflower hikes are available each weekend starting at the Nature Centre in the Arboretum. The Captain Cootes trail below the Nature Centre has a revitalized accessible floating boardwalk and bench, and can also be part of a relaxing trip to see the Arboretum Magnolia, Lilacs or Flowering Dogwood blooms.
Migratory birds off all types are now present, with over 250 species seen annually. The most dramatic sightings include thousands of swallows over Cootes Paradise Marsh, and raptors cursing north along Burlington Heights. The most common species observed in 2016 were the Red-winged Blackbird and the Yellow Warbler, both associated with the recovering marsh habitats. Canoeing in Cootes Paradise provides a different vantage point of the marsh, with a launch available from Princess Point or through an RBG program.
The Cootes Paradise Fishway, located near Princess Point is under full operation as spawning migrations of species such as bass, catfish and drum, return from their lake side homes to spawn in the shallows of Cootes Paradise Marsh. This is the 20th anniversary of the Fishway and a special public event will be held on May 28th. Public access to the Fishway is temporarily closed due to ongoing high water levels that are flooding over the Desjardins Trail, but is expected to reopen by late May. The Fishway is open to public during the scheduled operation times, and special school tours can be booked through the RBG Nature Centre during alternate times.
The Bald Eagles can be seen circling their territory in the Spencer Creel and Hopkins Wood Special Protection Area, but have abandoned their nest this year. Best views of the area the eagles patrol are from the Marsh boardwalk lookout or George North tower via the Arboretum or from the Sassfras Point lookout via Princess Point.
Enjoy spring with one of the many public programs for Programs for kids or adults, with field ID pocket guides available at the RBG Shop, and great lunch time dining available at the RBG Centre restaurant. 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:
The Desjardins Trail to the Fishway and the Grindstone Marsh Trail are closed due to flooding.
Due to high water levels, the Fishway, and low lying trails at Cootes Paradise and Hendrie are closed until further notice.
All parking lots are open – regular admission applies at the Arboretum


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. The Arboretum is the regular RBG admission rate during May and June. An RBG membership provides free parking at the trailheads.