On The Trails Highlights


September is migratory season and our sanctuaries are in the middle of number of bird migration routes. Over 250 species can be encountered over the course of the season, and in the fall every trail can host something special. The first burst of fall colour emerges, highlighted by goldenrods and asters. These plants have come into flower just in time for the arrival of another long distant migrant the monarch butterfly. On September 16, RBG will host a migration festival at the Arboretum highlighting the many migrants visiting the area, and on September 16 the dawn to dusk longwatch will occur.

As a general birding guide to visitors, raptors are centered around Burlington Heights, waterbirds are focused around the rivermouth deltas of Spencer (Cootes Paradise) and Grindstone Creeks (Hendrie Valley), and song birds are all through the wooded shorelines surrounding the wetlands. Trails with observation platforms are accessed through either Hendrie Valley or the Cootes Paradise north shore (via the Arboretum) with views of our most spectacular areas, Special Protection Areas available from the platforms. Canoe launches can be found at Princess Point and Valley Inn.

September wildflowers are dominated by goldenrods and asters with over 30 species occurring. These are particularly abundant in the meadows of Princess Point, Arboretum and Rock Chapel. More subtle favourites in a woodland setting include, Symphyotrichum cordifolium (Heart-leaved Aster) at Rock Chapel, Solidago caesia (Blue-stemmed Goldenrod) in Hendrie Valley, and Eurybia macrophylla (Large-leaved Aster) along Cootes Paradise south shore.

You can experience the season through one of the many public programs for kids or adults, with field ID pocket guides available at Shop @ The Gardens, and great lunch time dining available at The Greenhouse Café. If you’re looking for a guided hike try the Walking into Nature (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. 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.