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Temporary Closure: Indoor & Outdoor Garden Areas Learn more about visiting safely during COVID-19.

On the Trails: March 2021

March 2, 2021

Please note: Some of our trails and trailheads are narrow and we recommend you wear a mask when you are near other people.

Spring is in the air, and the calls of chickadees, cardinals, and wrens can be heard throughout the nature sanctuaries. The early spring has left the trails melted and muddy, with Cootes Paradise Marsh having only thin ice to start the month.

As of the beginning of March flocks of many species of birds, particularly raptors, have begun to arrive on their long journey north. The first spring wildflowers Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) is beginning to bloom with this large plant found in spring feed lowlands. The best trails to spot it include the Grindstone Marsh in Hendrie Valley, Captain Cootes Trail on the north side of Cootes Paradise, and Westdale Ravine Trail on the south side. With the warm weather forecast the Fishway at Cootes Paradise is anticipated to begin operation early in March but will remain closed to the public due to COVID limitations.

The nature trails have been experienced a dramatic rise in visitation in recent months and significant off trail trampling of sensitive habitat has occurred. To manage the ongoing large numbers of visitors during the spring melt, several locations in the more sensitive areas will undergo periodic closures to minimize damage to the trailside plants and soft forest soil.

Also noteworthy is the Lake Ontario water levels that are now about 60cm lower than a year ago, and slightly below the long-term average for this time of year. As the ice melts away extensive mudflats in the marsh areas will be exposed continuing into April.

Trail User Notes

  • Rock Chapel Parking for the Escarpment trail system is scheduled to reopen March 20, weather permitting.
  • 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.
  • 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.