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On the Trails: May 2024

April 30, 2024

Spring is in full swing, and our nature trails are packed with natural wonders to enjoy. Highlights include migratory birds, the sounds of calling amphibians, and forest understory wildflowers (spring ephemerals) in full bloom. Woodland trails with names such as Bridle, Captain Cootes, Grey Doe, and Ginger Valley are abound with flowers such as trillium, trout lily, and toothwort. The Anishinaabe Waadiziwin Trail accessed beside the Nature Interpretive Centre provides interpretation stories about cultural use of several dozen local plant species and can also be part of a relaxing trip to see the Arboretum. At the Arboretum, spring flower trees and shrubs are highlighted by Magnolia, Lilac and Flowering Dogwood blooms.

Migratory birds of all types are now present, with over 200 species seen annually. The most dramatic sightings include thousands of swallows over Cootes Paradise Marsh, and raptors cursing north along the Burlington Heights ridge. The most common species observed in 2023 were again the Red-winged Blackbird and the Song Sparrow, both associated with the recovering marsh and meadow habitats.

Canoeing in Cootes Paradise provides a different vantage point of the marsh, with a launch available from Princess Point or through an RBG guided program.

The Bald Eagles can be seen circling their territory in the Spencer Creek and Hopkins Wood Special Protection Area. One pair of adults and a number of juvenile birds are present. This year’s nest was abandoned in early April for unknown reasons. The best views of the area the eagles patrol are from the Marsh Boardwalk Lookout or George North Tower via the Arboretum or from the Sassafras Point lookout via Princess Point.

Trail User Notes

  • Cootes Paradise – Arboretum Peak Bloom: Please note that during peak bloom season of the flowering tree collections (May 9 to 31, 2024), the Arboretum is subject to adjusted hours, admission, and parking. Learn more about visiting the Arboretum.

For Your Safety

  • While using our nature trails, 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.