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

PLEASE NOTE: the Arboretum will be closed Saturday July 7 from 1 p.m. to Sunday July 8 at 10 a.m. Read more >>

on a boardwalk in Hendrie Valley


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 flowering. Enjoy the views from one of the five observation platforms on the Cootes Paradise north shore trails and Hendrie Valley. From these you may catch of view of an unusual dragonfly, fish or bird, 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, has reduced operations starting in July as the spring spawning runs have ended. However, views of young fish are easily encountered by the water’s edge. 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.

Enjoy spring with one of the many public programs for Programs for kids or adults, with field ID pocket guides available in Shop @ the Gardens, and great pre/post hike lunch time dining available at the RBG Centre restaurant. 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. 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.

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.

Public Safety Notice

City of Hamilton is investigating the cause of high levels of E.coli in water in the area of Chedoke Creek and parts of Cootes Paradise. All Royal Botanical Gardens’ programs and activities taking place at Cootes Paradise during this time are contained within safe areas that are deemed to have low levels of E.Coli. RBG’s Discovery Day Camps remain committed to ensuring the safety and wellness of its campers and staff; we are monitoring the situation closely and will alter the canoeing program as the situation changes.

If you have questions about health risks regarding coming into contact with the water at Chedoke Creek or Cootes Paradise, please call Public Health Services’ Safe Water Program at 905-546-2189 or email safewater@hamilton.ca.


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.

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


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

geotrail map overview


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