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

November

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 Anishinaabe waadiziwin trail along the north side of the marsh and accessed from the RBG 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 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 are open. Temporary partial trail closures are expected in multiple locations as maintenance work is undertaken.

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