On The Trails Highlights
New life fills the sanctuaries in July. Young birds are emerging from the nests, new fish abound in the wetlands and butterflies and dragonflies are on the wing. Wildflowers in July are highlighted by the impressive lilies, including wetland, woodland and meadow species blooming. While strolling, enjoy the views from one of the four observation platforms located on Cootes Paradise north shore and Hendrie Valley trails. From these, you may catch of view of an unusual dragonfly or birds swooping over the marsh, including, Bald Eagles, Osprey and Caspian Terns. Two of the platforms provide views of our most spectacular areas, the South Pasture Swamp, Spencer Creek, and Hopkins Wood Special Protection Areas.
Locally, common lilies include the white (Nymphaea odorata) and yellow water lilies (Nuphar variegatum) of the wetlands, and the Turk’s-cap (Lilium superbum) and Michigan lilies (Lilium michiganese) of the uplands. The best trails to encounter lilies include Creekside walk in Hendrie Valley, Sassafras Point and Captain Cootes trail at Cootes Paradise. The water lilies, once virtually lost due to habitat destruction, now carpet portions of the wetlands again, reflecting the success of restoration. A sea of white water lilies can be found in Hendrie Valley, while at the Lamoreux Boardwalk on Captain Cootes Trail three species. Two white water lily species and the yellow lily species are present. For a view from the water, canoe launches can be found at Princess Point and Valley Inn, with water levels high at this time of the year. Lilies are also featured in the cultivated gardens, particularly Hendrie Park, where both aquatic and garden cultivars can be found.
The Cootes Paradise Fishway, located near Princess Point, has reduced operations, however views of young fish are easily encountered by the water’s edge. The wetlands produce millions of new fish in Lake Ontario each year. The Fishway is open to the public during the scheduled operation times, and special school tours times can be booked through the RBG Nature Interpretive Centre.
You can experience summer through one of RBG’s many Public Programs for kids or adults, with pocket guides available at the RBG Shop. Lunchtime dining is available at the RBG Centre’s Garden Cafe. If you’re looking for a guided walk, try one of our free Back to Nature walks, weekly on Sundays and listed in our public programs calendar. Walks provided by RBG volunteers and rotate between four locations, one for each week of the month.
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 with 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.