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On the Trails: December 2022

December 6, 2022

Winter is attempting to arrive with Cootes Paradise Marsh not quite fully frozen by mid-December. The open water areas host concentrations of northern waterfowl wintering in the area, highlighted by Bufflehead, Goldeneye, and Hooded Merganser. The best trails to catch a glimpse of the birds are the Marshwalk Trail, (open waters of Spencer Creek), Princess Point Trail and the Waterfront Trail (open waters near the Fishway). Owls are a highlight of winter birding. Keep an eye out for owls that like to roost in tree cavities such as the Eastern Screech-Owl.

With the leaves now off the trees, the views from places such as the George North Tower at Cootes Paradise or from Rock Chapel out towards Lake Ontario are possible. The view from Rock Chapel provides a vista of the last undeveloped land between Lake Ontario (Cootes Paradise) and the Niagara Escarpment.

The lake level has risen a few inches in recent weeks so the mudflats are no longer dominating the Cootes Paradise marsh.

Borer’s Falls, a 5 minute walk from the Rock Chapel parking lot, is also in fine form with higher water flows in December. The Rock Chapel parking lot will be closed for the season as of Wednesday, December 21.

Trail User Notes

  • The Rock Chapel parking lot will be closed for the season as of Wednesday, December 21.
  • RBG will be closed on December 25, 26, and January 1. The parking lot gates to Princess Point and the Arboretum will remain closed for these days.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.