On The Trails Highlights


To start the month most trails are just coming into full fall colour and a traditional late fall flower is in full bloom The Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) a native forest understory shrub species is among the most common species in the oak dominated forests of our sanctuaries, with the yellow flowers quite distinctive against the forest setting. The Captain Cootes Trail access from the Arboretum, or the Cherry Hill Gate trail into Hendrie Valley Sanctuary, are among the two best hikes at this time of year. Despite November winds oak trees around Cootes Paradise and Hendrie Valley will remain in peak colour during the first two weeks of November in brilliant shades of orange and red.

Migratory birds continue to pass through, particularly waterfowl. November is highlighted by the arrival of the Tundra Swans, on route from Alaska to the Carolina’s. Large flocks of mergansers, teals, and shovellers can also be sited. The best trails to see them from are the Princess Pt trail and access on the south side of Cootes Paradise Marsh, or the <href="indigenoustrail">Anishinaabe waadiziwin trail along the north side of the marsh and accessed from the Arboretum. On route through the Arboretum the decaying leaves of the Katsura trees (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) will make you think someone is cooking brownies, as their decaying leaves release this fragrance.

You can experience the season through one of the many public programs for kids or adults, with field ID pocket guides available at Shop @ The Gardens, and great lunch time dining available at The Greenhouse Café. If you’re looking for a guided hike try the Walking into Nature (WIN) walk in Hendrie Valley, or one of our weekly free Sunday Back to Nature walks also listed in our public programs calendar. Walks rotate between four locations, one for each week of the month and are provided by RBG volunteers.

Trail User Notes

All trails are open. The Grindstone Marsh Boardwalk continues to undergo reconstruction but remains passable, while the Spring Garden Rd access to lower Hendrie Valley continues to be closed for reconstruction, reopening near the end of November. Please be aware ticks, including some ticks with Lyme Disease are found throughout the Hamilton Burlington Region.


There are five main trailhead locations, Princess Point, Westdale, the Arboretum, Cherry Hill Gate, and Rock Chapel, as well as two canoe launch sites (Princess Point & Valley Inn). These lead to 27km of trails within the sanctuaries as well as links to multiple other regional trails. A fee of $1/hour is required at all trailheads and $3/hour at the Arboretum, excluding special events. An RBG membership provides free parking at the trailheads.