On The Trails Highlights

New life fills the sanctuaries in July, young birds are emerging from the nests, new fish abound in the wetlands, and butterflies and dragonflies are on the wing. Wildflowers in July are highlighted by the always impressive lilies, including wetland, woodland and meadow species blooming. While strolling enjoy the views from one of the four observation platforms on the Cootes Paradise north shore trails and Hendrie Valley. From these you may catch of view of an unusual dragonfly or birds fish over the marsh, including, Bald Eagles, Osprey and Caspian Terns. Two of the platforms provide views of our most spectacular areas, the South Pasture Swamp, Spencer Creek, and Hopkins Wood Special Protection Areas.

Locally the commonly occurring lilies include the White (Nymphaea odorata) and Yellow Water Lily (Nuphar variegatum) of the wetlands, and the Turk’s-cap (Lilium superbum) and Michigan Lily (Lilium michiganese) of the uplands. The best trails to encounter lilies include Creekside walk in Hendrie Valley, and Sassafras Point and Captain Cootes trail at Cootes Paradise. The water lilies once virtually lost due to habitat destruction now carpet portions of the wetlands again, reflecting the success of the restoration. A sea of white water lilies can be found in Hendrie Valley, while at the Lamoreux Boardwalk on Captain Cootes Trail three species, two white water lily species and the yellow lily are present. For a view from the water, canoe launches can be found at Princess Point and Valley Inn with water levels very high this year. Lilies are also featured in the cultivated gardens, particularly Hendrie Park, where both aquatic and garden cultivars can be found.

The Cootes Paradise Fishway, celebrating its 20th year, has reduced operations, and remains isolated due to extremely high lake levels. However, views of young fish are easily encountered by the water’s edge, and with the high water levels millions of new fish for the Lake Ontario system are expected. The Fishway is open to the public during the scheduled operation times, and special school tours times can be booked through the RBG Nature Interpretive Centre.

You can experience summer through one of RBG’s many Public Programs for kids or adults, with pocket guides available at the RBG Shop, with great lunch time dining available at the RBG Centre restaurant. If you’re looking for a guided walk try 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

Due to high lake level several trails are flooded over and closed. In Hendrie Valley this includes Creekside walk and the Grindstone Marsh trail west of the main boardwalk. In Cootes Paradise this includes Spencer Creek Trail, Chegwin Trail and Desjardins Trail. 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.