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On the Trails: October 2023

September 27, 2023

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. Water levels in 2023 are at normal creek flows to support salmon spawning, unlike 2022’s drought were lack of water prevented migrations.

Fall colours have begun with Walnuts already 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 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).

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.

Marsh restoration success on the west side of Princess Point has resulted in both tremendous aquatic plant growth attracting large numbers of ducks. Exposed mudflats in river delta areas are limited this year as water levels are above average. 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.

Trail User Notes

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.