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On the Trails: February 2023

January 30, 2023

Fluctuating above average winter temperatures have prevented conditions for skating and make all nature trails generally soft, and with shaded wooded area icy. Boots with good traction are a wise choice 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 are sensitive to water pollution).

Skating on Cootes Paradise Marsh was not possible in January with the designated skating area having 1 inch of ice to start February, with places of open water beyond. 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:

  • At the south side of Cootes Paradise, changes to Ginger Valley Trail north connection with the new Churchill Park Path sytem will be initiated. This will result in the elimination of parallel woodland section of the new park path

Hendrie Valley:

  • Grindstone Marsh Trail Boardwalk in Hendrie Valley will be undergoing deck repairs during February, but is expected to remain open

Escarpment Properties:

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

For Your Safety

  • Please note that all trail 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.