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
Hickory valley trail

October

The trails burst into fall colour as the leaves turn reds, yellows, and purples. October is also the heart of fall bird migration, and Royal Botanical Gardens sanctuaries are in the middle of number of transcontinental bird migration routes. Over 250 species can be encountered over the course of the fall season and every trail can host something special. Also migrating in are the spawning salmon of Lake Ontario, finding their ways into both Spencer and Grindstone Creeks.

Fall colours have begun with Walnuts turning yellow to start off October. Fall colours extend into November as the 70 plus species of trees in our Carolinian forests occur across the varied landscape. Trails of the escarpment uplands reach their colour peak up to two weeks earlier than those down at Cootes Paradise Marsh. Look for the brilliant orange leaves of Sassafras and serviceberries, the reds of maples and sumac, the yellows of walnut and hickory, and the uniquely purple leaves of Fraxinus americana (white ash).

Migratory birds reach numbers in the thousands on many days. Raptors are centered at Burlington Heights, waterbirds are focused around the rivermouth deltas of Spencer (Cootes Paradise) and Grindstone Creeks (Hendrie Valley), and song birds are through the wooded shorelines surrounding the wetlands. Ideal destinations are trails with observation platforms, accessed through either the Cootes Paradise north shore trails or Hendrie Valley and are located next to our Special Protection Areas.

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

On Thursday, November 8th from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., a portion of Grindstone Marsh boardwalk (between Snake Rd. Trail and North Bridle Trail) will be closed as RBG staff will be working to remove the non-native highly invasive European manna grass (Glyceria maxima). Access to the remainder of the trail and adjoining trails will remain open during this time.

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.

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