Skip to content

On the Trails: March 2023

March 1, 2023

Spring is in the air, and the calls of chickadees, cardinals, and wrens can be heard throughout the nature sanctuaries, while the Bald Eagles have nested in full view by the Marshwalk Boardwalk. The icy trails are melting but leaving the sensitive interior woodland trails muddy.

As of the beginning of March, Cootes Paradise Marsh has both open water and areas of thin ice. Large flocks of many species of birds, particularly raptors have also begun to arrive on their long journey north, and the first of the Red-winged Blackbirds, the properties most abundant species are expected imminently.

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, the Anishinaabe Waadiziwin Trail on the north side of Cootes Paradise, and Westdale Ravine Trail on the south side.

With the ongoing cool weather forecast, the Fishway at Cootes Paradise is anticipated to begin operation in mid-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 have been resurfaced, however woodland trails remain sensitive habitats. Trails with the most challenges are the Grey Doe Trail, Sassafras Point Trail, Thornapple Trail, and North Bridle Trail. As part of woodland ecology restoration, a substantial trailside restoration is visible below Cherry Hill gate.

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

  • pair of bald eagles, one standing at the edge of the nest and the other is taking off in flight
  • snow and ice covered trail along the edge of cootes paradise
  • Skunk Cabbage plants melting snow around them
  • Red-winged black bird on a bare branch
  • Skunk Cabbage

Trail User Notes

Cootes Paradise:

  • On the south side of Cootes Paradise, changes to Ginger Valley Trail north connection with the new Churchill Park Path sytem will be initiated. This will result in the elimination of parallel woodland section of the new park path.
  • 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:

  • No closures or interruptions at this time.

Escarpment Properties:

  • Rock Chapel Parking lot is closed for the season; Reopening April 2023 (weather permitting)

For Your Safety

  • Please note that all trail 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.