On the Trails: January 2022
Please note: Some of our trails and trailheads are narrow and we ask you to please wear a mask when you are near other people. Please follow one-way signage as noted below.
Ice skating, animal tracks in the snow, raptors, and arctic waterbirds are the themes for January out on the trails. Waterbirds from the north, wintering in the unfrozen waters at Lake Ontario area can be spotted. Concentrations of many species including Bufflehead, Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, and Lesser Scaup can number in the thousands where water is open. The concentrations of waterbirds draw in a variety of raptors, expect to spot a Red-tailed Hawk or Bald Eagle soaring overhead. RBG public programs are regularly offered in support of this phenomenon.
Open waters usually 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 lookout 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 encouraged as river currents result in open water/thin ice beyond the Princess Point area. Restricting skating activity to the 0.5km radius around the ice access point is also critical to the protection of the many sensitive and nesting wild species that call Cootes Paradise area home. Information on ice thickness status/safety is available on Facebook as well as on a sign at the Princess Point access.
The water is shallow under the ice, with just 18 inches (45cm) of water in Princess Point Bay. RBG staff will be periodically re-flooding the bay in an effort to maintain skating conditions during the winter as conditions permit.
Trail User Notes
- 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.
- 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 on December 11, 2021.
- 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.
- 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.