On the Trails: January 2023
Ice skating, animal tracks in the snow, raptors, and arctic waterbirds are the themes for January. Waterbirds from the north, wintering in the unfrozen waters at Lake Ontario area can be spotted in concentrations. Species include Bufflehead, Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, and Lesser Scaup, and 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 these phenomenon. Open waters usually can be found near the Fishway (via Princess Point). January begins with some of the warmest temperatures on record and little ice cover.
Long views of the Cootes Paradise landscape and the amazing glacial water carved rolling hills and ravines 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. Resident woodpeckers of many species can be spotted throughout the trails including the largest, the Pileated Woodpecker as well as a variety of other birds.
Skating on Cootes Paradise Marsh at the Princess Point access is limited by low water levels and warm temperatures with no ice cover and extensive mudflats to start January. When ice is suitable, ice conditions are local to Princess Point posted area for safety of both users and wildlife beyond this area. Thick ice at Princess Pt will be thin ice or open water beyond this area due to river and lake currents. Restricted skating to the 0.5km radius around the point is also critical to protection of the many sensitive and nesting wild species that call Cootes Paradise area home. Information on ice thickness status/safety is available on our skating webpage, social media as well as on a sign at the Princess Point access.
In 2023 due to low Lake Ontario water levels, the water is very shallow under the ice, with just 6 inches (15cm) of water in Princess Point Bay. RBG staff will be periodically reflooding the bay 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.
- There are no closures or interruptions at this time.
- 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.
- 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.