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On the Trails: October 2022

September 28, 2022

The trails burst into fall colour as the leaves turn reds, yellows, and purples. October is also the heart of fall bird migration, and RBG nature sanctuaries are in the middle of number of transcontinental bird migration routes. Over 250 species can be encountered over the course of the fall season and every trail can host something special. Also migrating in are the spawning salmon of Lake Ontario, finding their ways into both Spencer and Grindstone Creeks although low water levels will pose a challenge for these large fish this year.

Fall colours have begun with Walnuts turning yellow and Dogwoods and Sumac turning red to start off October. These are complimented by the colours of many species of fall blooming asters.

Fall colours extend into November as the 70 plus species of trees in our Carolinian forests a found across a varied landscape. Trails of the escarpment uplands reach their colour peak two weeks earlier than those down at Cootes Paradise Marsh. Look for the brilliant orange leaves of Sassafras and serviceberries, the reds of maples and sumac, the yellows of walnut and hickory, and the uniquely purple leaves of Fraxinus americana (white ash). The properties host a variety of very old and large tree specimens, explore RBG’s Heritage Trees.

Migratory birds reach numbers in the thousands on many evenings, although cold days in September have pushed many migrants through. Raptors are centred at Burlington Heights, waterbirds are focused around the river mouth deltas of Spencer (Cootes Paradise) and Grindstone Creeks (Hendrie Valley), and songbirds are through the wooded shorelines surrounding the wetlands. Ideal destinations are trails with observation platforms, accessed through either the Cootes Paradise north shore trails or Hendrie Valley and are located next to our Special Protection Areas.

Exposed mudflats in river delta areas are much larger than normal as water levels are about 20cm below average and are a spectacle unto themselves.

Trail User Notes

  • Trails associated with Churchill Park will be temporarily rerouted or partially closed. Access to Churchill Park from the Princess Point and Ginger Valley trailheads in the north end of the park will be closed during construction, but the trails will continue along the forest edge. This is related to Churchill Park reconstruction that will create a network of loop walkways and will improve accessibility through the park. This work is expected to be completed by November 2022.
  • 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.

For Your Safety

  • 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.