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Temporary Closure: Indoor & Outdoor Garden Areas Learn more about visiting safely during COVID-19.

On the Trails: April 2021

April 8, 2021

Please note: Some of our trails and trailheads are narrow and we recommend you wear a mask when you are near other people.

Spring has finally arrived and our trails are packed with natural wonders to enjoy. Highlights include migratory birds and the first of the forest wildflowers (spring ephemerals) coming into bloom. Shallow waters of the marshes are relatively warm making travel by boat a challenge as well as promoting early spring algae blooms.

At the beginning of April, both Bloodroot and Hepatica are in bloom on the forest floor, while the woodland shrub American Hazelnut is displaying its brilliant yellow catkins. Warmer weather ahead should bring to bloom, the spring flowers of plants such as Trillium, Trout Lily, and Toothwort, as well as various fruit tree species such as serviceberries.  All woodland trails will display the bulk of 700+ wild plant species found within the environmental protection areas.  Try using the app iNaturalist to help you identify a plant you are unsure of.

Raptors are arriving and migrating through RBG properties which offer spectacular views from the George North Tower (Cootes Paradise via the Arboretum). The Bald Eagles are again nesting and using a newly created nest out of view in a Special Protection Area.  Both juvenile and adult eagles are easily spotted in flight over Cootes Paradise Marsh from anyone of the observation decks found along the trails.

The Cootes Paradise Fishway is in full operation, but is closed to the public until COVID restrictions are considerably reduced. Early season migrations include perch, pike and trout, returning from their lake side homes to spawn in the shallows of Cootes Paradise Marsh and Spencer Creek. Finding suitable spawning habitat will be a challenge with the current below average water levels of Lake Ontario.

Trail User Notes

  • Rock Chapel Parking for the Escarpment trail system is scheduled to now open.
  • The Bridle Trail Loop in Hendrie Valley is a one directional walk due to social distancing limitations of narrow sections. Signage is located at key intersections to indicate the one-way loop.
  • Creekside Walk in Hendrie Valley‘s floodplain is closed due a combination of past damage by floods and ongoing issues with water.
  • The Ray Lowes side trail connection from Rock Chapel ends at York Rd and does not connect to Cootes Paradise.
  • Calebs Walk at Cootes Paradise is a one-directional walk due to social distancing limitations of narrow sections of boardwalk. Signage is located at key intersections to indicate the one-way loop.
  • High numbers of visitors will be encountered at times, consider bringing a mask to wear when you cannot physically distance from others.

For Your Safety

  • While our nature trails remain open to the public, please note that all use is at your own risk. Most of our trails are hilly and the trail surfaces are natural soil. Consider your footwear as during winter surfaces can be icy or muddy depending on the weather.
  • High numbers of visitors will be encountered at times and our trails are narrow; please bring a mask to wear when you cannot physically distance from others.
  • Please stay on the marked trails to avoid trampling regenerating shrubs and trees or buried roots of understory plants such as trilliums.
  • The nature trail system is considered closed during extreme weather event notifications from Environment Canada.
  • Cross country skiing and mountain bikes/fat bikes are not allowed as our trails are not designed to accommodate these activities.
  • Please be aware ticks, including those carrying Lyme Disease, are found throughout the Hamilton/Burlington area and are active at temperatures above 0°C. Protect yourself by staying on marked trails. RBG does not accept ticks for testing. For inquiries regarding ticks, please contact the Region of Halton or City of Hamilton Public Health.

Explore RBG’s Trails

RBG’s nature sanctuaries feature more than 27 km of nature trails! Find maps, guided hike schedule, and more.