Nature Sanctuaries

The nature sanctuaries cover 900 hectares of land at the head of Lake Ontario forming a Nodal Park in the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve. The property occurs in three main areas, the escarpment, Cootes Paradise, and Hendrie Valley. The landscape is dominated by the forested ravines that run from the escarpment to the two large coastal wetlands, Cootes Paradise and Grindstone Marsh. The flora of the area is among the most diverse in Canada and is home to many rare species. The property also plays an integral role in ecosystems that span international borders, serving as staging areas for migrating birds, and supporting natural fish production for Lake Ontario. Burlington Heights, a glacial Lake Iroquois beach feature, rising 30m above Cootes Paradise Marsh and site of the Rock Garden also contains natural areas highlighted by prairie habitats and species.

The sanctuaries feature more than 27 kilometres of scenic walking trails. The four main trailheads include Princess Point, the Arboretum, Cherry Hill Gate, and Rock Chapel, as well as two canoe launch sites (Princess Point & Valley Inn). The 31 trails include multiple lookouts, boardwalks, and 21 stream crossings, as well as links to other regional trails, providing access to birds and butterflies, canoeing, the Fishway, heritage trees and a diversity of wildflowers, It is our mandate and challenge to protect these lands as an ecological legacy for future generations by balancing the needs of wildlife with more than 100,000 visitors who walk our trails each year. To ensure preservation of species, 20% of the property is without trails, protected within core areas called Special Protection Areas, one of a number of conservation initiatives. Each Special Protection Area has associated lookouts allowing the visitor to appreciate the vistas and diversity of life found within.