On The Trails

RBG's nature sanctuaries feature more than 27 km of nature trails. There are four main trailheads, as well as two canoe launch sites.

Trail MapsTrail User GuideHamilton Burlington Trails Council
bloodroot in bloom

May

Spring is in full swing and RBG trails are alive with nature’s wonders! Highlights include migratory birds, Cootes Paradise Fishway, Bald Eagles, and forest wildflowers (spring ephemerals) in full bloom. Woodland trails with names such as Bridle, Captain Cootes, Grey Doe, Armstrong and Ginger Valley are filled with brilliant flowers carrying names like trillium, trout lily, and toothwort. The new Anishinaabe Waadiziwin Trail below the Nature Centre is a great addition to a relaxing trip to see Arboretum Cherries, Magnolia, Lilacs or Flowering Dogwood blooms.

Migratory birds include thousands of swallows over Cootes Paradise Marsh, and raptors cruising north along Burlington Heights. The most common species observed last spring were the Red-winged Blackbird and the Yellow Warbler, both associated with recovering marsh habitats. Canoeing in Cootes Paradise provides a different view of the marsh, with a launch available from Princess Point or through an RBG program.

The Cootes Paradise Fishway located near Princess Point is under full operation as migrations of bass, catfish and drum return from their lake-side homes to spawn in the shallows of Cootes Paradise Marsh. The Fishway is open to public during the scheduled operation times, and special school tours can be booked through the RBG Nature Centre.

Bald Eagles can be seen circling their territory in the Spencer Creek and Hopkins Wood Special Protection Area. Best views are from the Marsh Boardwalk Lookout or George North Tower via the Arboretum or from the Sassafras Point lookout via Princess Point.

You can experience the season with one of the many public programs for kids or adults, with field ID pocket guides available at the RBG Shop, and great lunch time dining available at the RBG Centre and Rock Garden restaurants. If you’re looking for a guided walk try the 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 and parking lots are open, however low-lying trails may be flooded in areas due to rising Lake Ontario levels.

General Admission applies at the Arboretum in May.

Please be aware ticks, including some ticks with Lyme Disease are found throughout the Hamilton Burlington Region. Protect yourself by staying on marked trails. RBG does not accept ticks for testing. For inquiries regarding ticks, please contact the City of Hamilton Public Health.

Parking

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-$2/hour is required at all trailheads. The Arboretum entrance is regular RBG admission rate during May and June. An RBG membership provides free parking at the trailheads. The Rock Chapel parking lot will be closed for the season starting December 31 or earlier if icy conditions occur.

Click here to download a pdf version of the on-site map signage.

Trail User Resource Guide (pdf)

For more information on the trail guidelines, including walking dogs, canoeing, feeding birds and etcetera, please download the Trail User Resource Guide.

Trail Resource Guide (pdf)


Trail Maps

Find your route and learn more about the three major nature sanctuary areas using the brochures linked below.

map view of cootes paradise

Cootes Paradise Trails

Established in 1927 for its significance as a migratory bird stopover, Cootes Paradise is RBG’s largest and most diverse sanctuary at over 600 hectares.

Download Map (pdf)

map view of the escarpment properties

Escarpment Property Trails

Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve is represented here by several properties forming a 110-hectare, three-kilometre ribbon along the Escarpment edge.

Download Map (pdf)

map view of hendrie valley

Hendrie Valley Trails

This 100-hectare sanctuary is centred on the Grindstone Creek Valley. The area features forested slopes with towering trees, a 60-hectare river-mouth marsh complex and four creeks.

Download Map (pdf)


interpretive signage along trail

Anishinaabe waadiziwin

Native plants provided indigenous peoples with almost all of life’s essentials. Starting in the Arboretum near the Nature Interpretive Centre, this new trail explores plants used by the Anishinaabe peoples, and their connections to culture, language, ecology and history.

Learn More

blue bird on a branch

Birding

Royal Botanical Gardens provides easy access to some of the most diverse birding in Ontario. Read more

geotrail map overview

GeoTrail

Explore our Trails with an interactive map from Geotrail! Read more

planting in the wetlands

Conservation Projects

Projects occur in forest, wetland and prairie habitats and range from Species at Risk inventories to invasive alien species management. Read more