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On the Trails: September 2023

August 30, 2023

September is migratory season and our sanctuaries are in the middle of a number of migration routes. Over 250 bird species can be encountered over the course of the season and in the fall every trail can host something special. The first burst of fall colour also emerges, highlighted by goldenrods, asters and sunflowers. These plants come into flower just in time for the arrival of another long distant migrant the monarch butterfly as the loop around Lake Ontario.

As a general guide for fall migratory birding, raptors are centered around Burlington Heights, waterbirds are focused around the rivermouth deltas of Spencer and Chedoke Creek (Cootes Paradise) and Grindstone Creeks (Hendrie Valley), and songbirds are all through the wooded shorelines surrounding the wetlands. Evenings can bring very large numbers of birds. Trails with observation platforms are accessed through either Hendrie Valley or the Cootes Paradise north shore (via the Arboretum) with views of our most spectacular areas, Special Protection Areas available from the platforms.

Canoe launches can be found at Princess Point and Valley Inn, with higher than normal water levels providing easy boat access throughout this fall. New habitats associated with large scale meadow restoration projects throughout the property, but particularly at Rock Chapel are dramatically increasing the amount of habitat for migratory birds as well. Meadow projects target 50 hectares of habitat and are made possible through support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

September wildflowers are dominated by goldenrods, asters and an increasing abundance of native sunflowers with over 35 species occurring. These are particularly abundant in the meadow restoration sites of Princess Point, Hendrie Valley and Rock Chapel. More subtle favourites in a woodland setting include, Symphyotrichum cordifolium (Heart-leaved Aster) also at Rock Chapel, Solidago caesia (Blue-stemmed Goldenrod) in Hendrie Valley, and Eurybia macrophylla (Large-leaved Aster) along Cootes Paradise south shore forest. You can also learn more about some of the traditional cultural uses of native plants at the Anishinaabe Waadizin nature trail at the Arboretum.

Trail User Notes

Cootes Paradise:

  • On the south side of Cootes Paradise, changes to RBGs Ginger Valley Trail north connection with the new Churchill Park Path system are complete and signs updated.
  • 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. Closure occurred in 2017.
  • The Desjardin Trail may see intermittent disruptions from July to the end of October near Princess Point due to remobilization of equipment to support targeted dredging of Chedoke Creek. See City of Hamilton Communication Updates for further details.

Hendrie Valley:

  • The small parking lot located at Unsworth Ave is permanently closed. Creekside Walk nature trail access remains open and parking is available at Cherry Hill (1101 Plains Rd W.) or Hidden Valley Park.

Escarpment Properties:

  • Rock Chapel: The Bruce Trail roadside link to Borers Falls is currently being updated and as such for a period, trail visitors will need to climb over the roadside guard rail until modifications are completed to provide an access opening. This project is undertaken by Bruce Trail Conservancy and City of Hamilton.

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.
  • 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.