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On the Trails: January 2021

January 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.

Ice skating, animal tracks in the snow, indigenous plant use, raptors, and arctic waterbirds are the themes for January. Waterbirds from the north, wintering in the unfrozen waters at Lake Ontario area are highlighted by Bufflehead, Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, and Lesser Scaup, and can number in the thousands. The concentrations of waterbirds draw in a variety of raptors, expect to spot a Red-tailed Hawk or Bald Eagle soaring overhead. Open waters can be found near the Fishway (via Princess Point). Long views of the area and the amazing glacial water-carved rolling escarpment landscape are available from the George North, Bulls Point, and Pine Point Lookouts on the north shore of Cootes Paradise, and the Sassafras Point and Princess Point lookouts on the south shore.

Skating on Cootes Paradise Marsh at the Princess Point access is possible, weather permitting. Ice conditions are local to Princess Point and skating beyond the posted area is not encourage as river currents result in open water/thin ice beyond Princess Point area. Information on ice thickness status/safety is available on our social media as well as on a sign at the Princess Point access. The water is currently very shallow under the ice, with just 12 inches (30cm) of water in Princess Point Bay. RBG staff will be periodically reflooding the bay in an effort to maintain skating conditions during the winter as conditions permit.

Environmental conservation projects to improve the health of the nature sanctuaries involving recycled Christmas trees in the marshes, and forest habitat reclamations at Churchill Park will continue to be active.

Trail User Notes

  • Rock Chapel Parking lot (in the Escarpment Trail System) will be closing for the season as of December 21, reopening again in spring
  • 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.
  • Skating is available at Princess Point when ice conditions of Cootes Paradise Marsh permit. Conditions can change rapidly and will be posted onsite and on social media.
  • 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.