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On the Trails: February 2022

February 10, 2022

At the start of February, we’re seeing fluctuating winter temperatures that are leaving the trails extremely icy. Proper footwear with traction is highly recommended when out on the trails this time of the year for winter hiking.

The leafless winter forest provides extensive views through much of the natural areas of RBG, revealing the largest of the Canadian woodpeckers – the Pileated Woodpecker. The RBG sanctuaries have an estimated 3-6 pairs of Pileated Woodpeckers. The best locations to spot one are on the north shore of Cootes Paradise via the Arboretum, from the George North and Bulls Point Observation Towers, at the Hopkins Wood Special Protection Area.

It’s a great idea to bring along binoculars for birdwatching to get a closer view. Another reason we ask you to always stay on the trail is that many wildlife species are setting up their breeding territories at this time of year. Wildlife have limited shelter and it’s important that we give them plenty of space.

Signs of spring are edging in with species such as eagles and owls working on breeding territories. The mating calls of chickadees and cardinals are commonly heard echoing through the ravines.

On warm sunny days along the Spencer and Grindstone Creeks, winter stoneflies are emerging from their riverbed homes. The unusual behaviour of emerging in the winter makes them an important food source for hungry winter birds, as well as a sign of the health of these two creeks (stoneflies as sensitive to water pollution).

Skating on Cootes Paradise Marsh has recently been limited with the fluctuating temperatures impacting the quality of the ice surface. The designated skating area at the Princess Point access measured at 8 inches thick ice to start February. Ice conditions are local to the Princess Point bay and skating beyond the posted area is not encouraged as river currents result in open water/thin ice beyond Princess Point area. Information on ice thickness status/safety is available on our designated skating page, social media, and on a sign at the Princess Point access.

Trail User Notes

Cootes Paradise:

  • 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.

Hendrie Valley:

  • Creekside Walk and Unsworth Ave Parking lot (1171 Unsworth Ave.) associated with Hendrie Valley nature trails are closed indefinitely due to extensive damage to Creekside Walk Trail during extreme weather event.
  • 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.
  • Spring Gardens Road is closed between the Woodland Cemetery access and Valley Inn Road until March 20, 2022, for the construction of a new pedestrian bridge. All public vehicle and pedestrian access is restricted beyond the closure.

Escarpment Properties:

  • Rock Chapel Parking lot is closed for the season; Reopening again in spring.

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.
  • 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.