On the Trails: April 2023
Spring has come at last 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. To start April, waters of the marshes are about 40cm deeper than 1 year ago, significantly above average. The shallow relatively warm water draws a diversity of life, but also generates early spring algae blooms as marsh plant life attempts to recover.
Forest wildflowers coming into bloom include Bloodroot and Hepatica, while the woodland shrub American Hazelnut has its brilliant yellow catkins out. Forecasted warm temperatures are expected to quickly move spring flowers to 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 if you are unsure.
George North Tower (Cootes Paradise via the Arboretum) offers a spectacular view of the raptors arriving and migrating through RBG properties. The Bald Eagles are once again nesting, returning to a past nest in public view. This nest is very large and adjacent to the Marsh Boardwalk accessed via the Arboretum. 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 and early season migrations include perch, pike and trout, returning from their lakeside homes to spawn in the shallows of Cootes Paradise Marsh and Spencer Creek. Finding suitable spawning habitats will be productive this year due to the current above-average water levels of Lake Ontario.
Princess Point will undergo a temporary 1-day closure as a controlled burn to eliminate invasive plant species will occur. The specific date is weather dependent. More details will be shared through RBG’s social media and website once the burn date has been finalized.
Trail User Notes
- Creekside Walk in Hendrie Valley is temporarily closed due to flood damage.
- Rock Chapel Parking Lot has reopened for the season.
- On the south side of Cootes Paradise, changes to Ginger Valley Trail north connection with the new Churchill Park Path system will be initiated. This will result in the elimination of parallel woodland section of the new park path.
- The Ray Lowes side trail connection from Rock Chapel to Arboretum ends at York Rd and does not connect to Cootes Paradise. This relates to the Bruce Trail Conservancy head office having moved from the Arboretum, now located in Dundas via another side trail from the escarpment.
For Your Safety
- While using our nature trails, 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.
- 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.