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On the Trails: March 2022

March 7, 2022

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 later in March and will once again be open to the public to visit.

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 trails were resurfaced in 2021, however woodland trails remain sensitive habitats. A substantial trailside woodland restoration is visible below Cherry Hill gate. 

Also noteworthy is that the Lake Ontario water level is now above average resulting in a large area of the marsh underwater, and a dramatic change from low water just a year ago.

Trail User Notes

Cootes Paradise:

  • 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.

Hendrie Valley:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Escarpment Properties:

  • Rock Chapel Parking lot is closed for the season; Reopening March 21, 2022 (weather permitting)

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.